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Real cities in games & the law

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Hello people!

 

 

I have a big project in my head and therefore I also have lots of question, so this is my first one, one of many to come tongue.png I hope I'll be able to find some help here.

 

So my first question is, if I use a real city in my game, will I need some kind of license from the city?

 

 

Thank you!

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It depends on the city. You would have to contact them and ask. Be prepared to give a lot of information about how you'll use the city, whether the game will portray the city in a positive light, how many copies of the game you might sell, etc.

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What do you mean by "use a real city"?

If your character says"Let's drive to Las Vegas" and that is the end of it, that's one thing.

If you accurately model the Las Vegas Strip, including detailed animated facades of every casino and their landscaping, that is another thing altogether.


Stating the name of a city for reference or storytelling is fine. Nominative use is a classic fair use. You can have a note saying "Paris, 2250" as the setting of your general story.

Models and maps based on actual layouts and actual buildings and actual skylines and actual landmarks immediately puts you into copyright and trademark territory. You absolutely need permission for that.

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Yeah, it's not just the city mentioned, it's a whole part of the city accurately detailed. I'll guess I'll have to contact them then.

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I'd treat this the same as a photography project, it's pretty analogeous to using a camera to reproduce imagery of real places.

Photography copyright law differs widely by jurisdiction. You'd defiantly have to check the laws in your region, but a general rule of thumb is hat if you're on your own or public property when you take it, then the photo is probably ok, but if you're on private property then the owner can dispute your copyright.

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I'd treat this the same as a photography project, it's pretty analogeous to using a camera to reproduce imagery of real places.
Photography copyright law differs widely by jurisdiction. You'd defiantly have to check the laws in your region, but a general rule of thumb is hat if you're on your own or public property when you take it, then the photo is probably ok, but if you're on private property then the owner can dispute your copyright.

While that is true for private photography, news reporting, commentary, and various non-commercial and fair uses, it is not true for commercial uses.

For commercial use, you typically need a property release (similar to a model release) that certifies that you have permission to photograph. The release covers both trademark and copyright.

Famous buildings and private landmarks are frequently trademarked. Most famous skyscrapers (Chrysler Building, Transamerica Tower, World Trade Center, New York Stock Exchange, Rock and Roll Museum, etc.) are have multiple trademarks. Most casinos have trademarks on their designs. Many famous signs are trademarked, such as the Hollywood sign and the 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' sign.





For commercial use, such as a game, you absolutely need your lawyer to help get permission for using any existing structure

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How does this work with Google Street View, out of interest? Edited by mdwh

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