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wendrowyek

Modifying graphics.. is it legal to use?

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I'm making a retro 2D game, and was wondering, is it legal to use other peoples art as a template? (Edit their graphics pixel by pixel) .
An answer for both commercial, and non commercial games would be good. And what about games that have gone under abandonware? Can you legally use their graphics?

Thanks in advance.

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That's called copyright infringement.

With abandonware, it's by definition a legal grey area -- it's still copyright infringement, but there is (likely) no one that's going to sue you over it.

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This question ideally should be answered only by a lawyer from a specific jurisdiction where you want advise as regards copyright law.

Contrary to what musicians and artists state, copyright is nowhere near as strong as they think it is. However the fear of expensive litigation drives away a lot of people. A lot of people, for example, aren't even aware of fair use rights.

So to answer specifically, if your final product is substantially different from the original even if you used the original as a "base" to build upon, then of course the final product cannot be said reasonably to belong to the other party and you own its copyright. If it is a mere derivative with few changes or additions and is identifiable with its original form, then it is a copyright infringement, most likely. What constitutes a derivative work is up to a court of law to decide. See, most of the "original" works are actually built upon pre-existing ideas or models. Copyright does not extend to ideas or designs, even. There are other IPR laws to deal with inventions (patents), designs (Designs Laws), and trademarks (Trademark Laws) and so on.

Most people follow the maxim: if in doubt, don't! in regards to copyright law. Again, copyright is a very grey area and a lot of circumstances might make a particular thing a violation or not. Take it from me (I am a qualified lawyer).

I am posting this just to clear some confusion. The statute book more often only talks about specifics and case laws (court decisions) build on the actual law of property rights. Again, each country has its own laws and interpretations of the value of intellectual property.

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Hmm, Maybe you should change the description of the Beginner's forum.
"[color="#606060"]If you're new to game development, plan on spending some time here before visiting the other forums."

[color="#606060"]Also thanks for the replies, especially Vharis... That was very insightful. :)

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Thanks. Copyright is incredibly complex and so context-sensitive.

Imagine a simple scenario. two photography enthusiasts visit a lovely location and for convenience sake, share the same camera. Each takes a picture one after the other of the same scene, a particularly beautiful one (from approximately the same angle and with the same camera but maybe with their own settings). One photo comes out underexposed and the other properly exposed. Later on, each claims that the properly exposed photo belongs to him. How does a court of law determine this question, particularly if there is no evidence as to who clicked the camera first? Also who owns the copyright of the actual "picture"? Both being similar pictures, how do you determine who "owns" the actual picture?

Also remember, copying comic characters might be both a copyright and trademark violation depending on the circumstances. Trademarks is applicable in commercial contexts, while copyright applies both in commercial and non-commercial contexts.

To avoid all this, of course, people simply advise against using any existing material as a base for your own creations.

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I'm making a retro 2D game, and was wondering, is it legal to use other peoples art as a template? (Edit their graphics pixel by pixel) .
An answer for both commercial, and non commercial games would be good. And what about games that have gone under abandonware? Can you legally use their graphics?

Thanks in advance.


Probably not legal, no.

Read this article by forum-frequenter Mona Ibrams, a game lawyer who frequents the forum.

You are basing your artwork on theirs, therefore it is derivative. If your art bears a significant resemblance, even having the same artistic style, a court could find it violates IP rights.

Commercial or non-commercial makes no difference.

Abandoned property just reduces the risk of lawsuit, but does not make it more legal.



Why not just make your own art, or use existing royalty-free art?

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