Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Jacob Groeblinghoff

Scared that Nintendo will say that one word: "NO!" (need input)

23 posts in this topic

*If this has already been answered, then can someone direct me to a thread similar to this?  Thank you!"

 

So, just recently I got ahold of Nintendo's "legality issues" e-mail address (I put legality issues in quotes because, I don't know what else to call it.  Their legal department?  lol, whatevs.)  See, I have this really awesome idea for another Paper Mario game.

 

The only problem is, in order for me to proceed with this project I would obviously need to have their characters, backgrounds, etc... right?  

 

Now, before anyone says anything, I understand that most game companies, especially the big ones like Nintendo and such are very strict in giving rights to anyone.  I've tried this before, probably 2 or 3 times hoping for a "yes" but would always receive a no.

 

But this time, I put something in the e-mail I sent, that I didn't normally put before, only because at the time I wasn't completely literate with copyright law.  I put that I would give them due credit, and that I wouldn't make any money off the game.  I said I would just do it out of pure fun and my love for the game.  I also gave them a semi long, but not-too-long background of the game.  

 

Now, I've sent this e-mail to them 2 days ago, and I still haven't gotten a response back.  Now, granted, it's the weekend and seeing how big Nintendo is, I seriously doubt they have people work weekends, but I'm just kind of getting tired of being shot down.  And, something else I put in my e-mail that I really thought long and hard about mentioning (because this is where I have this sneaky suspicion that they're going to say no period) is, this game would also be using characters from Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars.  Well, I want the style of Paper Mario to remain the same as it has throughout the series.  That's why they call it Paper Mario.  However, I asked if it would be ok if I could alter the characters so that they could look the same style as the characters in Paper Mario.  And, I bet that's the dealbreaker, knowing Nintendo.

 

So, my question is this:  If you were Nintendo, what would you say?  AND, if you were to say no, in the future what would I need to show Nintendo to even get a possible yes?  Would Nintendo want, for example, a Game Design Document?  

 

Help!  Please!

-PaperMariolover

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, please know I have great respect for the gaming community and the laws surrounding it and for video game companies, and if Nintendo says no, then I won't continue on respectfully.

 

And thank you guys for all of your answers.  Guess my game Paper Mario 2 is out of the question :/ (The actual title of the game was going to be Paper Mario 2: The Star Princess, and is supposed to be somewhat of a sequel to Paper Mario.  Crappage...I just really loved the concept.  Oh well, thanks!)

Edited by PaperMariolover
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, please know I have great respect for the gaming community and the laws surrounding it and for video game companies, and if Nintendo says no, then I won't continue on respectfully.

I think I understand what you mean, but the way that's worded, it reads like you'll continue on disrespectfully wink.png

Edited by Cornstalks
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

0. Scared that Nintendo will say that one word: "NO!"
1. *If this has already been answered, then can someone direct me to a thread similar to this? Thank you!"
2. So, just recently I got ahold of Nintendo's "legality issues" e-mail address (I put legality issues in quotes because, I don't know what else to call it. Their legal department? lol, whatevs.)
3. See, I have this really awesome idea for another Paper Mario game.  If you were Nintendo, what would you say? 
4. AND, if you were to say no, in the future what would I need to show Nintendo to even get a possible yes? 
5. Would Nintendo want, for example, a Game Design Document? 

0. Yes, they will say no.

1. Here are three:
http://www.gamedev.net/topic/631562-how-to-write-a-letter-to-publishers/
http://www.gamedev.net/topic/625262-getting-copyright-permission-from-companies/
http://www.gamedev.net/topic/624535-regarding-a-proper-way-to-get-permission-to-make-a-fan-game/
I had to dig back 9 pages to find all of those. But that's all I had to do, was click and scroll and scan subjects. You need to be willing to work harder to find answers.
2. "Legal department" is the usual term for the legality department. But what you want in this case is Business Development, or New Business, or Licensing.
3. "What's in it for us?"
4. A solid business plan that shows how Nintendo could make a profit and how your game will enhance the IP without diluting Nintendo's ownership of it. Even then, it's likely to be turned down.
5. At some point, sure.

Edited by Tom Sloper
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All of the above posters are right.  I'm not saying it is right, but there are many "fan" games made, and the great majority of them don't get the famous C&D letter.  But they could at any moment.  If it is me, I don't do it.

 

1.  Even using there graphics, sounds, concepts, etc...  you still have to put some work into it.  You'll never be able to legally make any money off of said work.  Don' you think it would be better to put your time to better use??

 

2.  Can you imagine just your luck, you are 95% finished with the game, and then end up with a C&D letter.  Not only can you not finish the game, but you lost all the time you spend on it.

 

3.  There is no law saying you can't use gameplay from other games.  So if you wanted to make an RPG with "paper" graphics and "time-based" hits, all similar to paper mario, you could.  You just can't use "mario" and the respective characters, enemies, graphics, places, etc...  But you can come up with your own story, characters, graphics, etc..  and make almost an identical game with no problems.  Gameplay can't be copyrighted.

 

4.  Lastly, originality(as long as it is fun) sells.  Sure, clones sell too, but for an indie, clones are much harder to sell than original ideas.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All of the above posters are right.  I'm not saying it is right, but there are many "fan" games made, and the great majority of them don't get the famous C&D letter.  But they could at any moment.  If it is me, I don't do it.

 

1.  Even using there graphics, sounds, concepts, etc...  you still have to put some work into it.  You'll never be able to legally make any money off of said work.  Don' you think it would be better to put your time to better use??

 

2.  Can you imagine just your luck, you are 95% finished with the game, and then end up with a C&D letter.  Not only can you not finish the game, but you lost all the time you spend on it.

 

3.  There is no law saying you can't use gameplay from other games.  So if you wanted to make an RPG with "paper" graphics and "time-based" hits, all similar to paper mario, you could.  You just can't use "mario" and the respective characters, enemies, graphics, places, etc...  But you can come up with your own story, characters, graphics, etc..  and make almost an identical game with no problems.  Gameplay can't be copyrighted.

 

4.  Lastly, originality(as long as it is fun) sells.  Sure, clones sell too, but for an indie, clones are much harder to sell than original ideas.

 

This.

 

Just make a clone, and make it so that you can easily make it 'Mario', all your names and what not being variables so you would just have to change names once and what not. Once you are done, show THAT to Nintendo and say, I want to make this a sequel to Paper Mario, and you will get royalties from it. If it is of good quality, they would be crazy to say no because they have almost nothing at risk. You've already done all the work, paid all the costs, all they have to do is decide if they like it to be a sequel to Paper Mario and won't hurt their reputation in that regard then sit back and collect money.

 

If they don't, then you just release your clone anyways.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they don't, then you just release your clone anyways.

HORRIBLE IDEA.

 

Developing a game with a placeholder asset that you don't intent to release, or for the purpose of pitching it to a company, that is one thing.

 

But what you just described is willful infringement.

 

 

Normally, if a fan game made a game and naively copied their IP, the game owners would get a C&D order demanding the content be taken down.

 

But in this case, the person pitched it to the publisher, announced their intent, publicly stated online that they knew they were violating the law and violating the IP owners rights, and that they are going to proceed to violate it knowing full well that it is unlawful.

 

In that case Nintendo will probably skip the polite C&D order.  They will probably jump directly to a civil lawsuit.  And because Nintendo has evidence that you submitted the product to them, and almost certainly will search the Internet and find this thread, they'll have evidence that you willfully violated their IP, just about any court in the country will agree that it was willful infringement.
 

With willful infringement, the courts will usually give the MAXIMUM possible penalty.  If they don't think that is enough, they will also consider "enhanced" penalties, often it is 3X the maximum penalty for 'innocent' infringement.

 

 

 

There is only one correct answer:  Do not steal from others.  Make your own IP.  

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


If they don't, then you just release your clone anyways.

HORRIBLE IDEA.
 
Developing a game with a placeholder asset that you don't intent to release, or for the purpose of pitching it to a company, that is one thing.
 
But what you just described is willful infringement.


I don't think that's what he meant - he's not saying make an infringing game, ask for permission, then distribute anyway when they say no. He's saying to make a non-infringing game, but then asking if he can have permission to use things like characters. If not, there's no infringement with the original game.

I'd agree it's a bad idea to do it anyway; they'd still likely say no. And it probably doesn't help to go telling another company that your took your ideas from them, even if it's not something covered by copyright.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry for beating the crap out of this thread, but, I got the e-mail back.  Most of it was nothing new, but there was something in the e-mail I don't understand, and maybe you all can clear this up for me.  Here's the e-mail:

 

 

Hello Jake,

 

Thanks for writing in.  I can tell you spent a lot of time and thought on your idea, and it's flattering to hear you wish to use our Intellectual Properties in your game.  To us, your request represents a great sign of success and recognition of the Nintendo brand.

 

We are grateful for all the requests we receive for permission to use Nintendo properties; however, we receive thousands of requests and do not have adequate staffing to review them all.  Therefore, our general policy is to decline all such requests, no exceptions.  I realize this isn’t what you wanted to hear and thank you for understanding.

 

 

Although we are unable to grant permission, use of Nintendo properties without our formal permission may still be allowed depending on the circumstances.  You are encouraged to seek your own legal counsel if you have any questions about whether your particular proposed use is permitted without Nintendo's authorization.  This is not a comment on whether we believe your particular proposed use is permissible—Nintendo cannot provide legal advice.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Curtis Neal
Nintendo of America Inc.

 

Have you heard about our new home console? Learn more at http://www.nintendo.com/wiiu/what-is-wiiu/.

 

Follow us:            

 

Nintendo's home page: http://www.nintendo.com/  

 

Now, like I've said, I've written to companies before asking permission to use their characters and what-not, and it was pretty much a solid no.  However, what confuses me is this statement:  "Although we are unable to grant permission, use of Nintendo properties without our formal permission may still be allowed depending on the circumstances." What does that mean?  Does that mean, even though I can't use explicity characters and stuff from Nintendo, that it is ok however to use concepts from the games?  What does it mean?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what confuses me is this statement: "Although we are unable to grant permission, use of Nintendo properties without our formal permission may still be allowed depending on the circumstances." What does that mean? Does that mean, even though I can't use explicity characters and stuff from Nintendo, that it is ok however to use concepts from the games? What does it mean?

 

It means, "we might or might not come after you. Are you feeling lucky, punk?"  But in a nice and polite way.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

However, what confuses me is this statement:  "Although we are unable to grant permission, use of Nintendo properties without our formal permission may still be allowed depending on the circumstances." What does that mean?  Does that mean, even though I can't use explicity characters and stuff from Nintendo, that it is ok however to use concepts from the games?  What does it mean?

There are a few exceptions to trademark, copyright, and other IP rights. Most IP rights have their own fair use exceptions.

The letter is probably referring to copyright's parody exception, and the trademark use would need to have a nominative defense.

It would be an extremely difficult thing. First, you must have a parody of Nintendo's product. You cannot have a broader scope because then it becomes a satire, not a parody, and satire is not an exception. You would need to use the trademarks only in a way that satisfies trademark's 3-prong test.

If Nintendo decided to sue the still could, you would go to court and announce "Yes, we used their IP without permission. We believe it fits this exception." If the court doesn't agree, and finds that even the tiniest bit does not fit the exception, you have basically admitted guilt to willful infringement.


It is a very narrow and difficult path to try to make a legal parody. Don't go there without the help of a good lawyer. Additionally, a good lawyer will recommend you avoid the practice.

Just go be creative and make something of your own.
3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you would be much better off making prototypes of your games and writing up proper design documents and have the ability to make a proper pitch (even though it might not help) than just emailing them. I doubt any large company would just give up their property like that. And then you can always work on the prototype after with your own art, sound etc..... Or just go apply for a job at Nintendo.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The letter you received (which was nice of them to send!) is letting you know that your use may fall under "fair use" as set forth in US copyright law

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

 

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

 

If you're making a game, then none of those would apply.  They don't know if your use would fall under 'fair use' because 1) as they say they dont' give legal advice and 2) as they mentioned, they didn't review your submission (because the don't have adequate staffing to review submissions).

 

My hunch is the letter you received is a standard lawyer-approved response to anyone who writes in unsolicited asking to use Nintendo properties.

Edited by bschmidt1962
4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My hunch is the letter you received is a standard lawyer-approved response to anyone who writes in unsolicited asking to use Nintendo properties.

 

Seconded.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Tom- Did I do something to offend you?  Ever since I joined, to me (and maybe you don't intend to be this way)  but you come off mean.  Maybe it's something that I did that was wrong, but I'd like to know.  

 

To the rest-  That's fine, I don't mind making my own games.  It's not like I can't come up with ideas in a snap, anyone who knows me will tell you, I can think of an entire story within 5 seconds-2 minutes.  I actually have this other game in mind based on a story I once wrote but never completed, and yes it was original.  Characters from other genres, games, etc... were never used.  So, I don't mind.  Plus, putting up anything legally against Nintendo is pretty much a 99% automatic fail, because Nintendo is big and the name itself sells, so to go up against a corporate giant is ridiculous.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Tom- Did I do something to offend you?  Ever since I joined, to me (and maybe you don't intend to be this way)  but you come off mean.  Maybe it's something that I did that was wrong, but I'd like to know.

Several people have expressed that in the past.

 

Tom is both precise and terse.


Some people interpret that as unfriendly.

 

Personally I find it refreshing and useful.  It encourages people to refine their facts and just ask their real questions.  Often in the process of refinement the individuals can discover their own answers.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@frob- Thanks for the insight.  I thought it was because I instant messaged him one time, and he went all sorts of bananas on me.  And if that's the case, uh...sorry?  Thank you though for clearing that up.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Essentially they make exceptions for things like "Wreck it Ralph".

 

In the production of Wreck it Ralph they never paid to use things like Bowser or other similar IPs.   Most companies were flattered by someone wanting to use their characters, and the chance for the almost free advertising.   However the producers had to state exactly how they were going to be using the characters,  then afterwards follow restrictions from the IP owners that were even stricter.

 

Which is why they suggested you get a legal counsel to contact them.   It sets a minimum about of investment on your part, and with that investment it means that there will be similar/greater investment into quality of your "whatever"(no dilution in the quality of what their IP is attached to).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dose it have to be exactly like Paper Mario? I say if your passion is to create a game that was inspired by paper mario you should do it. Ok so you can't make a sequal to paper mario persay. But that dosen't mean you cannot create a game that would have similarities to it. Think of it as an opportunity to create something you have a passion for in the way you invision it. As long as you don't infringe by  using the assets from that IP or trying to clone it. Nintendo will have nothing to say about it. The most important thing it don't give up on an idea just because you first hear no. Some times it just means you now just need to redefine the idea to get the people to say yes.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing that surprisingly hasn't been mentioned before: What you do inside your own four walls is your own buisness. Which in this case means that if you make such a game using someones IP just for yourself, while (probably) still illegal, you won't get into legal issues with anyone. But since you are posting this here, I'm assuming you want to at least show the game off somewhere in the web, so that might be out of the question.

 

Now here comes the more opinionated part. Having finished and released a sequel to a quite old game some time ago, without having recieved a C&D from the IP owners (first announcement and demo was up around 2008), I wouldn't as strongly discourage you from creating the fan-game you want to make. As there has already been established, there are usually only two possible ways for this to end: Eigther Nintendo will silently endource your game, or they will C&D you. To get a permission is very unlikely, and from what I've heard actually getting sued is very unlikely, too. So if you really feel the urge to make that game - then I'd say, go ahead and make it. As you said, give proper credit, don't make any money of it - and be prepared to be shut down any time. If you still feel it would be worth the time, more the power to you. Whats better to use your time with, then a project you really enjoy making?

 

And just to clarify, I do respect intellectual property, I just feel that creating a fan game isn't a denial of that propery. No doubt about the legal state, which makes sense to give power to control that property. I just belive that making a "serious" fan game is just another way to show that respect - if we didn't like or even love that game, we wouldn't make a sincere fan game about it, would we?

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you should put your creative mind into making your own IP.

This way you'll have complete ownership of your product and have that extra taste of creative freedom.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0