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Stavros Kokkineas

Copyright infringement rules

7 posts in this topic

Hello! This is my first post here. I am 22 and i just finished my University, I am an electronic engineer.


I want to become a game designer and I have created some games on Game Maker (advice to all who start game programming/design or ANYTHING game related -> do NOT use this program, COMPLETE waste of time), XNA and Flash.

In most of my games I use images and sounds/music I find on the net. Right now I want to start making real games so I have started creating a pure C++ text adventure game so I get the very basics of game programming and then move on (I've not programmed for nearly two years so I'm just getting warmed up). I am also making a Flash game and I want to create a Cry Engine 3 Zelda-themed level.

Because I saw another thread where someone asked if anyone is interested in making a TLoZ game and the thread was locked due to copyright issues with Nintendo, I want to ask:

If I make the two aforementioned games that are TLoZ related will I be able to upload them to my own personal website so If I apply for a job I can include the link to my website and the employer can see what I have done as experience?

It's considered as distributing and if so what should I change so they're not considered copyright violating?

For example the text - adventure game is called "The Legend of Zelda: Forgotten Myth" but almost ALL of the names in the game are mine (except for Zelda, Link, Impa and Gerudo Desert) so if i remove these names and rename the game "Zelda: Forgotten Myth" is the game legible for distributing the code (I would also like to ask some questions that's I why i want to post it here)?

Also, If I create the CE3 Zelda-themed level what assets should I not use? For example if the level is a Kakariko Village remake but I use all of my own characters and assets, will I be able to use the "outline" of the village as it is in the Ocarina of time?

Generally, what's the best way to avoid copyright infringement if you want to create famous games-related projects?

Thanks a lot.

PS: Ok, I read the FAQ, you can delete this.
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Basically, If you make a zelda style game and call it zelda or anything that could make people mistake it for the original then you will most likely be infringing on trademarks, If you use or make artwork/sound/whatever based off assets from the original games than that is copyright infringement.

Uploading it to your own website is considered distributing and could cause you to end up in jail / pay heavy fines/damages depending on the jurisdiction unless the website is truly private (password protected for example so that noone can access the game without your explicit permission (Then its only distributing when you give the password to a potential employer which should reduce the scale of things enough for the potential penlaties to be fairly minor).

The best way to avoid copyright/trademark infringement when you want to create something related to famous games is to NOT DO IT.
Seriously, No employer is gonna give flying bleep if your text adventure game is called Legend of Zelda: Forgotten Myth or simply Forgotten Myth, In fact as an aspiring game designer you should try to show off your ability to design unique games, not your ability to rip off Nintendo.

Thus, Cut out the Legend of Zelda part entierly, Keeping "Forgotten Myth" should be fine, Cut out anything related to the legend of zelda from your game and replace it with your own characters/etc instead.
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Yeah, got that from the FAQ on Business section of the site. Fortunately, I didn't use many things for my text adventure and my CE3 level is just getting started (I'm actually still planning it). I will remove anything Nintendo related from the game.

But the CE3 level question is kind of tricky. If I don't use anything else but just the layout of Kakariko Village for the level is that copyright infringement? I won't use any names, any characters, any models, nothing. Just the layout because It's easier for me to find top down views on the net and create the map. Should I scrap that too and just find maybe a real place to create my map (ex. Rome, or a much smaller town)?

Thanks for the info! [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
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[quote name='Darklink_' timestamp='1330091661' post='4916194']
But the CE3 level question is kind of tricky. If I don't use anything else but just the layout of Kakariko Village for the level is that copyright infringement? I won't use any names, any characters, any models, nothing. Just the layout because It's easier for me to find top down views on the net and create the map. Should I scrap that too and just find maybe a real place to create my map (ex. Rome, or a much smaller town)?

Thanks for the info! [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]
For the layout it is a bit of a grey area, it could be considered a derivative work in which case you need permission (It is really up to the courts to decide this in the end, and up to Nintendo to decide if they want to challenge you on it, noone here can tell you what Nintendos legal department thinks of it nor what the court will decide if things go that far), designing your own level is a good idea anyway, especially if you want to showcase your design skills.
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There's also another potentially big (huge) issue...
You said:
[quote]In most of my games I use images and sounds/music I find on the net. [/quote]

That is a HUGE no-no, unless you're specifically getting them from legit paid download service (eg a sound effects or image library that explicitly gives you permission to use the SFX or images in games). If you just "google" and grab images or sounds, there's an excellent chance that you are in violation of copyright of the sound, music or images.

To be clear: EVERY image, sound, etc is copyrighted. And unless you specifically have a license to distribute it, you're technically in violation of the copyright. Now, the rights holder may not mind, but that's a pretty big gamble to take.
Always, always get images, sounds, music from reputable sources; there are many places online to get them, usually for a nominal fee; sometimes free.

[quote]Generally, what's the best way to avoid copyright infringement if you want to create famous games-related projects?[/quote]
There is only one way. That is to obtain a license. (yes, there is such a thing as 'fair use' exemptions, but not if you're making a game based on someone elses characters..)

So as not to rain completely on your parade, it may be worth pointing out a story... The creators of "Red vs Blue" (the HALO-based machinima) were clearly in violation of Microsoft's copyright-- they used the HALO characters/art and put their own voices onto it. (technically speaking, they created an "unauthorized derivative work"). However, rather than slap them with a lawsuit, Microsoft thought it was really cool--and ended up giving their blessing and helping them. So you never know what'll happen....


Brian Schmidt
[url="http://www.brianschmidtstudios.com"]Brian Schmidt Studios[/url]
Executive Director, [url="http://www.gamesoundcon.com"]GameSoundCon[/url]
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There's plenty of free/open source art out there - check out places like Open Game Art.
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