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Anarchi

Is game cloning (as freeware) legal?

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Say a series of games has stopped such as Leisure Suite Larry and kings Quest, is it legal to create a free clone (different story line) of these games? What would the original developer do if they came across the free game? Would they be able to take legal action? If so, are there ways around this?

Downloads, D3DXSprite tutorial, New platform game: .-= The ZeroOne Realm =-.

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If you get permission from the people owning the trademark for the characters etc. (Sierra in your case) then it''s alright. If not you''re violating intellectual property laws.

Making the game free doesn''t matter, you could still be sued if you use the characters without permission.

Search the forums, this question comes up pretty often.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You can do it, if you redesign the characters, the storyline, the names, gametitle, graphics, music, etc...

Simple: you''ll have to make a whole new game.

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Copyright laws where you live, may be different.

However, in the United States, you''re allowed to "steal copyrights" if A) its being used for educational purposes or B) you''re not turning a profit.

If you can prove, you''re not making a profit, you''re more than entitled to use those characters / storylines / anything.



"Where genius ends, madness begins."
Estauns

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quote:
Original post by Estauns
Copyright laws where you live, may be different.

However, in the United States, you're allowed to "steal copyrights" if A) its being used for educational purposes or B) you're not turning a profit.




I don't know where so many people get misinformation like this... but in case anyone believes this, the above statement is completely wrong.

Even non-profit educational institutions (which hits both of those supposed criteria) are required to pay the copyright holder when they (for instance) photocopy and distribute a few pages out of a textbook.

It's true, copyright law is not often enforced against elementary schools, but it is still the law, and even schools have been sued and fined for copyright violations.

In the United States, you may not make any unauthorized copies of, well _any_ material that hasn't specifically been placed in the public domain or otherwise licensed for redistibution. You also may not use anyone else's characters or logos without permission. No exceptions, no excuses.

Well, excepting parodies.

Edited by - cheesegrater on November 12, 2001 12:06:46 PM

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quote:
Original post by CheeseGrater
Well, excepting parodies.

Even parodies and other "complementary works" are having a rough time these days; did you hear about the re-envisioning of Gone With the Wind from the slaves'' perspective? The copyright holders were not happy about it and may have taken the author to court.



I wanna work for Microsoft!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Since you say that you are planning to create a clone that is based on a "different story line", why not just go all the way and give it a different name and different characters to completely differentiate it from Sierras'' games. That way, you can make a game that is about the same subject/topic, without any fear of copyright laws. There are a myriad of games out there that are based on the same subject; just give change a few things and it will be distinct from Sierras'' games and you will not be in violation of any law.

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quote:
Original post by CheeseGrater
I don''t know where so many people get misinformation like this... but in case anyone believes this, the above statement is completely wrong.



quote:

US Code, 17.107
the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright



Clear?

Section 108 excludes libraries and archives. Section 110 excludes non-profit performances for educational, religious or charity purposes; and peformances in agricultural fairs, oddly.

It is important to realise that these laws refer to the purpose, and not the place. Making clones of a game at school may still be an infringement if you aren''t doing it for educational purposes.

Also note that cloning a game isn''t necessarily a violation of copyright. Copyright doesn''t apply to ideas or procedures, so the way in which a game operates can''t be copyrighted. However, text, images and music can be copyrighted.

quote:

In the United States, you may not make any unauthorized copies of, well _any_ material that hasn''t specifically been placed in the public domain or otherwise licensed for redistibution. You also may not use anyone else''s characters or logos without permission. No exceptions, no excuses.



This is partly true. It is always illegal to violate copyright. However, in order to claim statutory damages or fees, the copyright owner must register his work with the Library of Congress *before* the copyright infringement.

quote:

Well, excepting parodies.



I couldn''t find anything specifically pertaining to parodies, which means that, unless there''s a precedent somewhere, parodies are a violation.

Finally, many people say that making backup copies of software is illegal, many people say it is legal. The US Code, he say:

quote:
17.117a
it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided: ... (2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes
only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.



So, it is perfectly legal to make copies of a computer program for archival purposes, only. ''Archiving'' your software on your website is not legal if you allow others to download it - that counts as distribution.

All your bases belong to us

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Anarchi,

In particular, the Kings Quest and LSL series are still generating money for Sierra. In the stores, they still sell bundles of these games. You would be in a very bad position and likely won''t get permission to create it.

I wouldn''t touch those series if I were you. It would be cool to see another Larry character though.

Perhaps you should develop one and make it public domain so that we don''t run into a problem like this again.

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It is not legal to use copyrighted material in any way that can be seen as depriving the owning person/company of profit. It is, however, legal to use copyrights in something for your own personal use. Example: you can make a Star Wars screen saver from art you crafted of the characters and use it on your own computer, but it is illegal for you to distribute that software, whether you charge or not.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Mayrel
[quote]Original post by CheeseGrater
I don''t know where so many people get misinformation like this... but in case anyone believes this, the above statement is completely wrong.



quote:

US Code, 17.107
the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright



Clear?

quote:


Scholarship and research, etc are allowing for quotation, I believe. My univeristy made it a practice to pay for ''multiple copies for classroom use'' since students had a habit of taking the stuff home with them, which actually violates this section.

Also, the provisions here are a far cry from the vauge ''educational purposes.'' Thank you for the specifity.

[quote]

Also note that cloning a game isn''t necessarily a violation of copyright. Copyright doesn''t apply to ideas or procedures, so the way in which a game operates can''t be copyrighted. However, text, images and music can be copyrighted.





And, of course, characters and names can be trademarked, which provides a level of protection beyond copyright. (Which only protects specific works or artwork depciting the character.)
quote:


[quote]
In the United States, you may not make any unauthorized copies of, well _any_ material that hasn''t specifically been placed in the public domain or otherwise licensed for redistibution. You also may not use anyone else''s characters or logos without permission. No exceptions, no excuses.



This is partly true. It is always illegal to violate copyright. However, in order to claim statutory damages or fees, the copyright owner must register his work with the Library of Congress *before* the copyright infringement.


I thought you could sue without registration, but just for a smaller cash award.

quote:


[quote]
Well, excepting parodies.



I couldn''t find anything specifically pertaining to parodies, which means that, unless there''s a precedent somewhere, parodies are a violation.



There''s precedent. Parodies are a well-known exception to trademark law. Copyright laws really don''t apply, since parodies are inspired works sharing characters, not word for word copies.

quote:


Finally, many people say that making backup copies of software is illegal, many people say it is legal. The US Code, he say:

[quote]17.117a
it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided: ... (2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes
only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.



So, it is perfectly legal to make copies of a computer program for archival purposes, only. ''Archiving'' your software on your website is not legal if you allow others to download it - that counts as distribution.



Backups are provided for in the copyright law, but it''s still questionable wether they can be disallowed in software licenses. (Which they sometimes are, though not all companies do this)

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What is all boils down to is that if you make a copy or derivative work of something and the owners of the copyright 1. don''t like what you did, and 2. can pay thier lawyer more than you can pay your lawyer, then you''re screwed.

Even if what you''re doing is completely legal you''re still probably screwed. Ask yourself this, if some big name company threatened you with a couple of million dollar lawsuite, do you have the cash to even begin to defend yourself against it even if it''s obviously bogus? As an individual who''s asking these questions on webboards, I would guess that you don''t.

Best to avoid the issue altogether. Large companies do what they want because they can. You can''t unless you''re very independently wealthly or very very very lucky.

-Mike

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If your specificially going to reproduce a Sierra game and don''t care about any type of accolaids or profits. You may want to contact them, they have been releasing ALL sorts of engines, with strangle hold contracts. Example Tribes 2. I personally would do as suggested above and change everything slightly and keep your work under your name. Hell look they do the same thing to themselves. Kings quest...Heroes Quest their the same freakn game!

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I have recently emailed Sierra but have not received a response yet, and I doubt that I will anyway.

I specifically would like to create a Sierra Larry game because many people have requested someone to create it since it is a favorite of many gamers, and since Larry 8 was abandoned I decided to look into it and make a new version for the public. I guess I could rename the characters and redraw the sprites, but this will be alot of work, I was actually going to rip the sprites from the previous games - much easier.

As for Public domain software, is this the same license as Linux software as seen at sourceforge.com? If I make the source code available to the public will it be legal? Or would I still need permission?

Downloads, D3DXSprite tutorial, New platform game: .-= The ZeroOne Realm =-.

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Mayrel, I believe your quotation may have missed some key points. However I am more familiar with UK copyright law than US copyright law.

"the fair use of a copyrighted work, [...] for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright"

...is not the same as saying...

"purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is fair use" .

I would be very surprised if there was not an additional clause in there which specified just how much could be copied and it still considered 'fair use'.

Here's a quote for you, from http://fairuse.stanford.edu/rice.html. Note especially the bit I added emphasis to:
"The law lists the following factors as the ones to be evaluated in determining whether a particular use of a copyrighted work is a permitted "fair use," rather than an infringement of the copyright:

- the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

- the nature of the copyrighted work;

- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and

- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Although all of these factors will be considered, the last factor is the most important in determining whether a particular use is "fair." Where a work is available for purchase or license from the copyright owner in the medium or format desired, copying of all or a significant portion of the work in lieu of purchasing or licensing a sufficient number of "authorized" copies would be presumptively unfair. Where only a small portion of a work is to be copied and the work would not be used if purchase or licensing of a sufficient number of authorized copies were required, the intended use is more likely to be found to be fair.

A federal appeals court recently decided an important copyright fair use case involving coursepacks. In Princeton University Press, et.al. v. Michigan Document Services, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit concluded that the copying of excerpts from books and other publications by a commercial copy service without the payment of fees to the copyright holders to create coursepacks for university students was not fair use. The size of the offending excerpts varied from 30 percent to as little as 5 percent of the original publications. Although the opinion in this case is not binding in California, it is consistent with prior cases from other courts, and there is a reasonable likelihood that the California federal courts would reach a similar conclusion on similar facts."

This implies that you left out important parts of the law, since I expect that Condoleezza Rice is fairly well-informed...

Edited by - Kylotan on November 12, 2001 9:18:06 PM

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Check out www.blizzard.com in the FAQ section. The allow (unless its changed or i cant read) you to "rip" the game to create your own (better check yourself though) but i dont know about freewaring it. (i wanted to do it about 2 years back to warcraft 1)

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quote:
Original post by Kylotan

"the fair use of a copyrighted work, [...] for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright"

...is not the same as saying...

"purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is fair use" .


Unless my understanding of American English is way off, I can''t see much difference.
quote:

"The law lists the following factors as the ones to be evaluated in determining whether a particular use of a copyrighted work is a permitted "fair use," rather than an infringement of the copyright:

- the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;


If we imagine that the game is for educational purposes, and a game released on GameDev quite probably would be, we can assume that it passes this test. Clearly, if the copying is not for educational use (or otherwise exempt under sections 107, 108 and 110), then it doesn''t pass this test.
quote:

- the nature of the copyrighted work;


In the case of a clone, the work will usually (hopefully) be significantly different from the original. Clearly, it is like the original, or it wouldn''t be a clone, but it should be different enough that it isn''t just a plain copy.
quote:

- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and


As above: since the work is probably quite different (and may well use different (although similar) text, graphics and/or sound) the ''amount'' of the original work in the clone may be quite small.
quote:

- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.


For a freeware clone, market-value is unlikely to suffer. I have never obtained a clone and then decided ''no, I won''t buy the original'' on account of I had the clone. I would usually not buy the original on acount of I''m unlikely to consider it worth paying for. I don''t know where you can get reliable figures on the effect of freeware clones on market value - the original publishers are unlikely to be entirely honest - but my hunch is that the market is pretty much unaffected by such clones.
quote:

A federal appeals court recently decided an important copyright fair use case involving coursepacks. In Princeton University Press, et.al. v. Michigan Document Services, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit concluded that the copying of excerpts from books and other publications by a commercial copy service without the payment of fees to the copyright holders to create coursepacks for university students was not fair use.


I wasn''t able to find the original decision itself, but I found the decision about an appeal to it (http://fairuse.stanford.edu/mds/110896cofadec.html). Perhaps one of the most significant sentences in this document is it is not fair use if the challenged use `should become widespread, it would adversely affect the potential market'' .

It also quotes that such an assertion will not carry much weight if the defendant has "filled a market niche that the [copyright owner] simply had no interest in occupying" . Effectively, if Sierra don''t make their interest in the continued commericialisation of the LSL or Quest games clear, they can''t claim that making a clone isn''t fair use under that law. That, I suspect, is why Sierra (and most other old companies) regularly distribute older games in ''bargain packs'' or ''compendiums''.
quote:

This implies that you left out important parts of the law, since I expect that Condoleezza Rice is fairly well-informed...


Well, you''re right. But I didn''t do it on purpose, I''m just not a lawyer.

PS. Does this thread belong on this forum? Anyone with the power interested in moving it to a more suitable home?

All your bases belong to us

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Mayrel

If we imagine that the game is for educational purposes, and a game released on GameDev quite probably would be, we can assume that it passes this test. Clearly, if the copying is not for educational use (or otherwise exempt under sections 107, 108 and 110), then it doesn''t pass this test.



What? That''s a gross misinterpretation of the law. If you made one copy, that might be educational use, but I _highly_ doubt it.

Even then, that''s not an argument for distributing the final product, since people playing the game isn''t ''educational.''

This clause is to reproduce _short passages_ for educational use. So a book on computer graphics can contain a picture of Leisure Suit Larry (copyrighted artwork) if it''s cited properly. Even an educational book wouldn''t be able to get away with providing all the artwork from the game, or even a sigfinigant portion of the game.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Anarchi
I have recently emailed Sierra but have not received a response yet, and I doubt that I will anyway.



And now they provably knew about your attempt, so under US trademark law they will be forced to sue you if you proceed. (Or lose their trademark on Larry.)

quote:

I specifically would like to create a Sierra Larry game because many people have requested someone to create it since it is a favorite of many gamers, and since Larry 8 was abandoned I decided to look into it and make a new version for the public. I guess I could rename the characters and redraw the sprites, but this will be alot of work, I was actually going to rip the sprites from the previous games - much easier.



That''s not only trademark violation (which you _might_ get away with) that''s also copyright violation. Do _not_ rip the sprites if you want to stay out of court. They are still actively selling the games this artwork belongs to (in collections).

quote:

As for Public domain software, is this the same license as Linux software as seen at sourceforge.com? If I make the source code available to the public will it be legal? Or would I still need permission?



Public domain is no license at all. It means you voluntarily give up all copyright rights that you have. You won''t be able to do this with your game because you don''t own the art assets or the characters.

Linux software at sourceforge is generally GPL. This is _very_ different from public domain. Read about the GPL at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html

And finally, even if you release the source code, even if you never make a dime from the game, making a Larry game without Sierra''s _written_ permission will be illegal.

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quote:
Original post by Apoztel
not to bitch but the correct quote is

"All your base are belong to us"

it''s such a classic!


I''m employing irony.



All your bases belong to us

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster


Original post by Mayrel

If we imagine that the game is for educational purposes, and a game released on GameDev quite probably would be, we can assume that it passes this test. Clearly, if the copying is not for educational use (or otherwise exempt under sections 107, 108 and 110), then it doesn''t pass this test.



What? That''s a gross misinterpretation of the law. If you made one copy, that might be educational use, but I _highly_ doubt it.

Even then, that''s not an argument for distributing the final product, since people playing the game isn''t ''educational.''


Did I mention the ''final product'' (by which I assume you mean the published version of Sierra''s product)? No. I was specifically refering to the production of a clone, since that is the topic of this forum.
quote:


This clause is to reproduce _short passages_ for educational use. So a book on computer graphics can contain a picture of Leisure Suit Larry (copyrighted artwork) if it''s cited properly. Even an educational book wouldn''t be able to get away with providing all the artwork from the game, or even a sigfinigant portion of the game.


If you had just read my post a little more closely, you would have seen me mention the fact that most (if not all) of the media in the clone should be newly created. At no point is my post condoning the bit-for-bit cloning of Sierra''s product.

All your bases belong to us

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quote:

I specifically would like to create a Sierra Larry game because many people have requested someone to create it since it is a favorite of many gamers, and since Larry 8 was abandoned I decided to look into it and make a new version for the public. I guess I could rename the characters and redraw the sprites, but this will be alot of work, I was actually going to rip the sprites from the previous games - much easier.


That''s not only trademark violation (which you _might_ get away with) that''s also copyright violation. Do _not_ rip the sprites if you want to stay out of court. They are still actively selling the games this artwork belongs to (in collections).


Precisely correct. The distribution of ripped media outside of fair use is illegal without the consent of the copyright owner.
quote:

Public domain is no license at all. It means you voluntarily give up all copyright rights that you have. You won''t be able to do this with your game because you don''t own the art assets or the characters.


You can give up the copyright you have on your game. The fact that Sierra own the copyright on part of your game doesn''t magically give them ownership of the copyright of your entire game. They can require that you hand over/destroy all material upon which they own the copyright, but they can''t require that you give them the copyright over your entire program.

However, that''s nothing to do with public domain specifically. Whether it''s open source, shareware or commercial, the same rules apply (although certain non-profit uses of assets are not infringements.)

All your bases belong to us

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The original poster should check these projects out. See how/if they dealt with the copyright holders. (this legal discussion is all very interesting, but sometimes copyright holders have given permission, such as an Archon remake I read about. I''m not sure what the case is with the games below)

Space Quest: The Lost Chapter (indie "Space Quest 2.5" game)
http://www.theunderdogs.org/game.php?id=2308

King''s Quest 1 VGA (remake with new graphics)
http://www.theunderdogs.org/game.php?id=2881

Night of the Hermit (uses Herman Toothrot from Monkey Island)
http://www.theunderdogs.org/game.php?id=2880

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Not entirely on-topic, but this discussion of disassembly vis the Sega vs. Accolade and Nintendo vs. Atari cases makes interesting reading.

All your bases belong to us (I know. It''s irony.)

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