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JosephAustin

Protecting IP when you pitch

10 posts in this topic

Hello, everybody. I have recently started work on a game design, not for a particular company but as a pitch. I'm flying solo, here. There are, however, a few opportunities I have on hand, but they request a design document as evidence that I have the kind of ideas they want. Although I am not paranoid, I do not feel very comfortable with providing people with my complete idea for a game unless I have some way of keeping my IP safe from plagiarism. Is there something that I can do, or is this just a risk in the industry? As I understand it, game designs cannot themselves be copywritten or patented.

I did have the idea of providing a website that hosts the link as PDF that can only be downloaded when a consent checkbox is toggled, consent being for a TOS/NDA.

Thank you in advance.
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Well without doubt your topic will be shanghaied over to the "Business and Law" forum when a moderator comes across it but the following two threads already discussed over there in recent times should provide enough answers for you:

[url="http://www.gamedev.net/topic/623806-is-it-possible-to-protect-your-game-design-when-recruiting-a-team/"]http://www.gamedev.n...ruiting-a-team/[/url]

[url="http://www.gamedev.net/topic/623452-how-do-i-keep-someone-from-stealing-my-whole-project-if-they-help-work-on-it-and-it-becomes-fairly-big/"]http://www.gamedev.n...mes-fairly-big/[/url]


I also highly recommend heading over to Tom Sloper's website and reading all 478, 236 F.A.Q.'s they really are useful, as well the F.A.Q.'s associated with the Business and Law forum. [url="http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html"]http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html[/url]

I do like your website idea but establishing who clicked the checkbox could be interesting to establish and it does not necessarily bind other people handed a printout of the document. but this goes more into the deeper realms of -- see a lawyer irl.

Also - you CAN copyright your game design document.

As well it might be possible to patent specific aspects within an original game design but I wouldn't necessarily bet on it in the majority of cases - though if you believe you have created an original invention or method for doing something then you could pursue that possibility with a (patents) lawyer.

As a completely separate side note you might be interested in this blog

[url="http://www.lostgarden.com/2005/08/why-you-should-share-your-game-designs.html"]http://www.lostgarde...me-designs.html[/url] Edited by Stormynature
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Joseph, read these too:
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson21.htm
http://www.obscure.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions-2/
http://sloperama.com/advice/article58.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson29.htm
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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1338570970' post='4945365']
Joseph, read these too:
[url="http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson21.htm"]http://sloperama.com...ce/lesson21.htm[/url]
[url="http://www.obscure.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions-2/"]http://www.obscure.c...ed-questions-2/[/url]
[url="http://sloperama.com/advice/article58.htm"]http://sloperama.com...e/article58.htm[/url]
[url="http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson29.htm"]http://sloperama.com...ce/lesson29.htm[/url]
[/quote]

They don't answer his question.
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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1338639474' post='4945556']
They don't answer his question.
[/quote]

-1

Despite the fact that I am keeping out of your threads in game design due to my belief that you truly don't want legitimate advice unless it accords with or accessorises your opinions, (which is a pity because I do think you have a very good knack for creating topics that involve people successfully), stepping into this forum is an area where I actually do believe an opinion given can have far more real-life consequences than that of Game Design.

First of all and with no insult intended to the OP, it should be very obvious to you glhf, that the OP has at best, a very limited understanding of the legal aspects for which he is seeking advice in as well the type of business relationship he is about to be involved in. The links that Tom provided do contain information directly relevant to the OP in the terms of providing pointed , as well background advice pertinent to the situation. What myself, and I believe Tom has done is to provide the OP with information that not only caters directly to the issue of protecting his IP but also provides him with an environmental context or framework in which to perceive it more appropriately as well offer him a better grasp of the business aspects involved.

It should also be noted that Tom did not present his post as a direct answer to the OP but rather as adjunct to the post I had written and in truth a better focus to pertinent data within his website rather than my saying go have a look at it.
[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1338570970' post='4945365']
Joseph, read these too:
[/quote]


If you believe that the idea of these forums is simply to provide advice directly related only to the OP's question:
[quote name='JosephAustin' timestamp='1338569319' post='4945356']
Is there something that I can do, or is this just a risk in the industry?
[/quote]
Then who is going to correct him on him mistaken beliefs with regards to copyright and patents, provide him with information on business meetings and their expectations, provide him with information on preparing for such meetings. Do you truly believe that it is inappropriate to try and give the OP an oportunity to learn more in an area that he obviously lacked knowledge about by providing such information to him?
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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1338639474' post='4945556']<br />They don't answer his question. <br />[/quote]

Right. I should have included these, too:
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson39.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson35.htm

In brief:
- Your idea is automatically coprighted, but still,
- You should register your copyright
- Nobody will steal your idea (unless they're incompetent and/or desperate for ideas)
- In a pitch, you have to share your idea, that's all there is to it
- In a pitch, the publisher will usually require you to sign a submission agreement that limits their risk of you later suing them for stealing your idea
- An idea is not enough -- you also need a capable team
- Your pitch has to make business sense to and for a risk-averse publisher

Those articles say all that, and explain these points in greater detail.

glhf, you PM'd me asking similar questions to Joseph's. My signature requests that people not PM me asking for private advice. I do not give private advice. The only way I give free private advice is on public forums, like this one, or my own bulletin board on my site. When people PM me asking for private advice, I answer the question publicly so that others can benefit from the exchange. If there is some part of your PM that is not answered by the articles linked above, ask your question here (in which case I'll answer here) or by email (in which case I'll answer on my own bulletin board).
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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1338648805' post='4945589']
[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1338639474' post='4945556']<br />They don't answer his question. <br />[/quote]

Right. I should have included these, too:
[url="http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson39.htm"]http://sloperama.com...ce/lesson39.htm[/url]
[url="http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson35.htm"]http://sloperama.com...ce/lesson35.htm[/url]

In brief:
- Your idea is automatically coprighted, but still,
- You should register your copyright
- Nobody will steal your idea (unless they're incompetent and/or desperate for ideas)
- In a pitch, you have to share your idea, that's all there is to it
- In a pitch, the publisher will usually require you to sign a submission agreement that limits their risk of you later suing them for stealing your idea
- An idea is not enough -- you also need a capable team
- Your pitch has to make business sense to and for a risk-averse publisher

Those articles say all that, and explain these points in greater detail.

glhf, you PM'd me asking similar questions to Joseph's. My signature requests that people not PM me asking for private advice. I do not give private advice. The only way I give free private advice is on public forums, like this one, or my own bulletin board on my site. When people PM me asking for private advice, I answer the question publicly so that others can benefit from the exchange. If there is some part of your PM that is not answered by the articles linked above, ask your question here (in which case I'll answer here) or by email (in which case I'll answer on my own bulletin board).
[/quote]

I don't know why i PMed you because you always dissapoint me with your answers... saying that a GDD is just an idea.... that is absurd.
And why wouldn't someone steal your "idea"? They could save TONS of money by not sharing revenue with the OP in this case.
You always make it sound like game designs are near worthless pieces of paper that take no work to create.

Pitching game designs to studios seems a bit like in the movies where a small time gangster has to go and make a trade with a bigtime gangster who has 10 times as many armed gangsters... praying they don't just kill the small time gangster and take what they want.
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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1338651484' post='4945598']
1. you always dissapoint me with your answers...
2. saying that a GDD is just an idea.... that is absurd.
3. And why wouldn't someone steal your "idea"? They could save TONS of money by not sharing revenue with the OP in this case.
4. You always make it sound like game designs are near worthless pieces of paper
5. that take no work to create.
6. Pitching game designs to studios seems a bit like in the movies where a small time gangster has to go and make a trade with a bigtime gangster
[/quote]

1. I regret that. But I don't think my answers are to blame, so much as the complications of the real world.
2. I don't say that a GDD is just an idea. It's not. It's an idea that has been expressed in tangible form (thus is copyrightable, whereas ideas are not).
3. Because it would cost them "TONS of money" to execute your idea into a working game.
4. It's ironic that you say I make them sound this way, because in many conversations on this forum, I defend the necessity of GDDs while many others say they are useless. I believe GDDs are important, especially when a real project is going to come of the GDD.
5. I have never said or implied, in any shape or form, that GDDs take no work to create. Please don't put words in my mouth.
6. Yes. There is that risk. And I have felt it myself, many times. It is, undeniably, risky to pitch your idea to other parties. But if you want their involvement or consideration, you have to take that risk. Edited by Tom Sloper
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[quote name='Recoilthreat' timestamp='1339189491' post='4947487']
would a standard non disclosure form not work and if not why?
[/quote]

Because the publisher will refuse to sign it, and will require the pitcher to sign their submission agreement.
See FAQs 11, 21, and 35 at http://sloperama.com/advice.html
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