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Guns in games - copywright issues

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Some days ago I clicked on a link to eurogamer.net with an article about how weapons get licensed(sadly I didnt bookmark the link).

There seems to be a company made by some gun manufacturers just for licensing to games developers which have to pay although they practically do free advertising and even are nearly forced to buy a real gun as a base for their artists to make them look identically and have to get the game approved.

Then there was an example of a game where they nearly copied the look, redacted the names and just used model numbers and then had their lawyers approve every tiny bit to be halfway safe.

The easiest example in the article was about some just making up some fantasy raygun theirself so they didnt have to be in fear of legal trouble.

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When RockStar or Electronic Arts decide to do something, remember that they have lawyers. In fact, they have entire LEGAL DEPARTMENTS, who are employed to research that sort of thing. Those legal departments decided that they in the event they were sued, the cost of the lawsuits would be more reasonable than the licensing.

You, however, do not have a legal department. You probably don't even have a single lawyer. You probably cannot afford even the threat of a lawsuit or a C&D order.


If you are a major company and you have a legal department you can follow their advice. If you don't have that kind of money, the best advice is to stay far away from anyone else's intellectual property.

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Let's also not forget that even though EA did decide to not license vehicle names for Battlefield as a 1st amendment claim, they WERE taken to court over this and they did end up settling the lawsuit.

 

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/08/16/ea-settles-battlefield-3-and-textron-helicopter-lawsuit/

 

Another thing to consider with EA, is that they were likely taking a calculated risk that they could get the lawsuit thrown out due to a 1st amendment claim and set a legal precedent for fair use of trademarks in games. They knew full well that the lawsuit would come at them, they didn't get the result they wanted, so they settled the claim with the IP owner.

 

It wasn't so much less costly to settle the lawsuit than to legally license the property in the first place (in fact it probably cost them more), but to them it was worth the risk trying since it would set legal precedent and give them the go ahead to use trademarks without license in the future (which would save tons of money over the years).

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There is a lot of good advice here.

 

If you are only making games for practice and in private, then you should expect to be okay.  Companies know that it is expensive to fight, but some are very willing to do it, even if only to send a message and prevent open stealing of their intellectual property.

 

  I know of several companies that got sued or had cease and desist orders put on them.  On face value a cease and desist order may not seem like a big deal but the company gives a "shot across the bow" with this.  You have to stop and restart your game development which can destroy some game development entities in this case.  The legal fees for counsel are hundreds of dollars per hour, so fighting is not an option.

 

I say better safe than sorry.

 

Creating fictional weapons is just as fun as historical ones but with little risk if you secure your rights by publishing the rights with your product.

 

On the other hand, some companies seek the publicity and will gladly grant you written permission to use their product designs.  Asking for permission is low risk and only costs you time.  With negotiating skills, you may be able to offer value to the copyright holder by giving them credit and perhaps also free advertising somewhere.

 

Game development success apparently requires many skills in order to sustain an income with it.

 

 

Clinton

Edited by 3Ddreamer

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Game development success apparently requires many skills in order to sustain an income with it.

 

 

Yep, but you can't reasonably expect every person to possess all those skills. That's why AAA titles have such long credits.

 

For indie and hobby titles it is important to minimize risk. Don't use others' IP. Minimize your need for lawyers and a legal department!

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3Ddreamer, on 02 Sept 2013 - 10:38 PM, said:





Game development success apparently requires many skills in order to sustain an income with it.





Yep, but you can't reasonably expect every person to possess all those skills. That's why AAA titles have such long credits.

 

There are many types of game development companies of all sizes and shapes which are successful at garnering an income, but they all require many skills for long term success-including the making of wise legal decisions. wink.png

 

 

Clinton

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