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Rg_RANDROID

Game copyright before publication

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I'm not entirely sure what the very best way to do this is.

 

Here's my situation:

I have a GDD that I'd like to publish to a website (which I am fully ready to make).

(My main reason for doing this is for it to serve as part of my resume; I've been working on this for a long time.)

 

Before doing this, I'd really like to protect my work, so I've decided to register a copyright.

 

I was partially through the registration process when I learned about preregistration, which (according to eco.copyright.gov) applies to unpublished work.

 

My game design isn't published anywhere yet.

There's also a fee ($150 or so, I believe) for preregistration.

 

I think my best course of action would be to make the website, publish the document, and then immediately register for a copyright.

 

Or am I wrong about this?

 

I'd hugely appreciate any / all advice.

 

Thanks!

Edit:
I think I have a good idea of what things I need to do; I'm just not sure of the order in which I should do them.

Edited by Rg_RANDROID

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No need to preregister for that kind of thing.  

 

That's for things like movies where they spend many months with lots of people touching it and a huge chance of it getting leaked before completion. They still have to pay the registration when it is done, it just grants a tiny bit of additional protection if they decide to sue somebody for releasing clips directly from the editing room a year before release.

 

 

In fact, there is probably little need to register a GDD copyright at all. It is useful to protect things like the final program and the assets, where if somebody stole them directly you want the ability to sue them immediately. Things like pictures it can make sense because copyright infringement can cause serious harm. If they steal a GDD and republish it verbatim, are you actually likely to enforce the rights in the courts? Pay the fee if you want, but for a GDD I don't think it is worth it. The design document is usually a living document throughout development, and it is unlikely to be useful to anyone other than the developers building that specific game.  Copyright doesn't protect the ideas, it only protects the exact wording and distribution of exact copies. 

 

Of course, you (and your lawyer) might think it is a good idea to copyright the GDD.  In that case, don't let my speculation stand in your way.

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If they steal a GDD and republish it verbatim, are you actually likely to enforce the rights in the courts? Pay the fee if you want, but for a GDD I don't think it is worth it. The design document is usually a living document throughout development, and it is unlikely to be useful to anyone other than the developers building that specific game.  Copyright doesn't protect the ideas, it only protects the exact wording and distribution of exact copies.


Hmm... I definitely see your point, and realistically, I don't think anybody would ever try to steal my work  in the capacity that would urge me to file a lawsuit... but $150 isn't a lot of money.

 

I'd like to update the website I'm going to create with actual, finalized assets. The initial GDD I plan to publish is going to contain a significant amount of the game's story, as well.

After mulling this over for another day, I think I'm going to preregister for a copyright after all.
I really doubt I'll ever need to enforce it, but I think that if anybody ever did see my work and even thought about stealing it, my ability to sue them to protect my work would make them think twice.

 

In that sense, it would serve mostly as a deterrent, and at the very least, it would give me some peace of mind for a relatively low price.

Thanks for your input, frob!

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Legally speaking, you own copyrights to anything you make.

If you really want to register it, the best way to go in your case is probably putting up the site (with the Copyright notice), and then registering the copyright.

(I'm not a lawyer)

Edited by ItsBobberson

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