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gbMike

Demo Reel - Trademark Violations

6 posts in this topic

A large company commissioned the studio I worked in, to build a game for several different platforms. I was tasked with building the flash version for web. Just before release day, the client decided that a free flash version might hurt sales of the iphone/android app, and so my side of the project was scrapped, and not permitted to release online.

Even without the public release, I would like to include a few seconds worth of gameplay clips in my demo reel, to showcase my work, but I am worried this might constitute a copy write violation. Is there anyway to do this legally? Maybe cite the client for their assets and likeness? Or is this doomed to sit idly in the back corner of my hard drive, collecting metaphorical dust?
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Hello gbMike,

You have an interesting conundrum. First of all who owns the IP? I assume the large company that commissioned the work does based on what I can interpret from your post. You would need to gain permission of the IP holder to use the clips. Normally you might be able to use clips of your game work and cite fair use of it in using it for your resume as your body of work. However the "fair use" is not technically a cover for this use and while it can be argued as being so and probably successfully, it does remain amorphous in its ability to adequately protect you.

Your problem however is somewhat deeper than this. Your game has never been released, it is not out there in the public persay, it is locked away on your computer. You would effectively be stealing from your workplace. This is definitely something you DO NOT want to do. You cannot argue fair use as it is not out there to be used, it is locked away.

Your best bet is to contact the IP holder and obtain permission from them to use portions for your resume.


However, laws in each country do differ and at the end of the day the only real advice I can tell you is that if you wish to use the material and don't want to gain permission from the IP holder, then go to a lawyer. Edited by Stormynature
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Ask them. Most people are quite willing to grant grant permission for you to include bits and pieces in your portfolio.

To make it more likely to succeed you could make your demo clip first, and then ask the people for approval of those specific clips.
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[quote name='Stormynature' timestamp='1343153558' post='4962682']
First of all who owns the IP?
[/quote]

The client company does. It is their branding/product.

[quote name='Stormynature' timestamp='1343153558' post='4962682']
You would effectively be stealing from your workplace. This is definitely something you DO NOT want to do.
[/quote]

Agreed. However, I'm not entirely sure if the studio owns the project I worked on. (Please correct me if I am wildly wrong here) They brought me on as an in house intern, paying what amounted to less than $1 per hour. (I was in college, and desperate for experience) I've since learned, that since I was not being offered any training, college credits, or any other compensation, that I the studio cannot legally use my work for profit, or something to that effect. (Being an intern does not omit you from federal labor laws, thankfully)

I'm not sure where exactly that leaves me, or my work, as far as who it belongs to. Does it still belong to the studio, but they can't use it? Or does being an illegal employee change things? I'm only concerned, that if my employment was not valid, what implications would that have since I created content with files contracted only to the studio I 'worked' for.

I'll definately see about getting into contact with the client directly. I like the idea of creating the video clips first, and sending them for review. Ideally, I would like to take these issues up with a lawyer as well, unfortunately, I will not be in a financial position to do so for some time. I'm a US resident, if that helps at all. Edited by gbMike
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Either way, if you are still on good terms with your boss you should simply ask for permission. Better to do it through email if your relationship is solid so you can have a paper trail. I would definitely not involve a lawyer for a portfolio video, since it raises all kinds of defensive reactions and would likely get it denied.

(If you have other legal issues you might wait to wait until after you have permission for your demo pieces.)
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[quote name='gbMike' timestamp='1343164177' post='4962736']
However, I'm not entirely sure if the studio owns the project I worked on. (Please correct me if I am wildly wrong here)
[/quote]

It is likely (not guaranteed) given that your studio was hired to make the games that they themselves don't hold copyright to the game itself....that said they may have copyright over some internal aspects of the programming, including the game upon which you were working on that was cancelled etc but again it comes down to issues that fall beyond the scope of this thread. However the fact that the studio still has parts of the game you were working on does not mean that that "taking" part of it (without appropriate permissions) is legally acceptable. It isn't.

The advice Frob has been providing you is about the best course of action you have at this time esp. about the getting permissions done before other legal issues intrude.

A secondary aspect and as you have not mentioned it, it may not be applicable, with regard your employ in the company any forms you signed for that employment may contain non-disclosure clauses and such, it might behoove you to check your employment documentation esp. as you said at the time of your employ you were desperate for the experience. Which to be honest, is a very dangerous time to make sensible and well-informed decisions.

I hope you find a resolution to your situation and best of luck with future employ.
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