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GeneralJist

Paying someone to work on a "mod"?+ "games that started as "mods"

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Greetings,

 

[continued discussion on "games" that started as "mods"]

 

So, to some of you this is a weird questions, and to others, it's cut and dry.

 

The details would just complicate this question.

so,

1. I've been working on a mod for a while now, a passion project

2. we're reaching our 1st release point.

3. There are key things that need to be done to finish, and despite all our efforts,  it's been really hard to find, and keep good animators. 

 

We have a huge list of potential freelancers or industry contacts we've networked throughout the years, so finding an appropriate candidate is no issue. However, since we're technically a "mod", we've had to turn them away. 

 

But, we've now so close, that we're willing to pay them out of our pocket.

 

So, the questions is,

Is this "legally" ok?

 

And if so, what kind of contract would we need to draft?

 

For the purposes of our project & this question, anything they'd be working on was made by scratch from us, and then added into the base game.

 

Not ripped out, reworked, and and reused.

 

Curious what the answer would be if it was, for example if we could hire a UI  person to redo the UI of the "mod".

 

We are technically a mod, but  the level of new content we're adding is more on the indie level .

 

Thanks for your time and perspectives,

-Jist

 

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what kind of contract would we need to draft?


Probably a Work For Hire agreement that specifies very clearly who owns what (and who cannot own what). You'd want a lawyer experienced in games to help you. There's a list (probably needs updating) on this forum.

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Would we have to approach the original IP owning company in any way? (even though EA would likely not care to even respond)

 

or

 

Can we just handle this between the parties + a games layer?

Edited by GeneralJist

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There's no issue. You pay someone to create content for you, such that you own their work (well, that's how the contract would usually be set up). After that, it's basically the same legal situation than if you'd created the work yourself.

 

BTW check out http://docontract.com/

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Would we have to approach the original IP owning company in any way? (even though EA would likely not care to even respond)

Depends on the details.

Some games are designed for mods and provide tools for doing it. The game will have a license that talks about the legal details. Companies are fine with this as long as you follow the rules.

Some games can be easily modded but don't have direct support for it. Some games will have unofficial support from the company where a modding community is quietly supported but it technically is still unauthorized. This is a risky type of work since the company can shut you down at any time. Proceed with caution if this is the case.

And some games and their companies are strongly against mods. These will come after you with legal demands when they discover your work. Don't mod these games.

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I think the payment itself is no issue.
It's what you're planning with the mod after it's finished, that you might have to check legally

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I think the payment itself is no issue.
It's what you're planning with the mod after it's finished, that you might have to check legally

Ahh, that's what I was concerned about.

 

Up until now, we've all been unpaid, and no money has been transacted in any way. (As most mods are).

 

In this case, we'd be just like all the other mods out there for this game, and under the same previsions/ limitations/ rights. (There's company made moding tools, with documentation, guess I'll need to have a 2nd look at that, with a fine toothed comb.)

 

All releases up until the conclusion of the project will be free to the community to download and play as they wish.

 

(There's talk of potentially going full stand alone, if:

A. when the "mod" is concluded, to take all our original assets, into our own IP, and redesigning all links to the former IP, so they can be properly clipped.

 

B. if community support dries up/ stagnates, despite our 1st faction Alpha being released, signifying that "moding" the existing IP won't bring the attention,  growth and professional  outcomes that we feel are justified or validated  in proportion to the effort & time we've put in. 

 

Anyways,

I'm  mainly concerned that if we do go ahead, write up a contract, pay them for the assets that go into our project, that this may somehow tip us over into a different legal category all together, and potentially be a ticking time bomb / proximity mine, that taints the project as a whole, leaving us potentially open to new legal concerns that would never have been an issue if we didn't decide to pay someone for their work.

 

Team morale and social ramifications aside, this is the crux of my concern.

 

Another thing that comes to mind, is, what if we pay someone to make us a website?

 

As of now, we're primarily  using moddb as our main page, as far as I understand, you can have money for site maintenance, but what about it's creation?

 

As well as the domain name concern, since the project is a  mod, it uses the word "Tiberium" in the title, an IP owned by EA. So, if we made a domain name, what should we do?

 

There's loads of fan sites out there for games and the like, but not sure how they handle it but at the same time, if we didn't call the domain "Tiberium Secrets" or have that in there some  way, I'd make finding us  harder. (need to make sure it's Search Engine Optimized (SEO).

 

From what I've seen, It might be just better to come up with a team name/ company name, which we'd use as an actual registered company name for the future.

 

Let me know what yall think,

thanks.

Edited by GeneralJist

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1. I'm  mainly concerned that if we do go ahead, write up a contract, pay them for the assets that go into our project, that this may somehow tip us over into a different legal category all together, and potentially be a ticking time bomb / proximity mine, that taints the project as a whole, leaving us potentially open to new legal concerns that would never have been an issue if we didn't decide to pay someone for their work.
Team morale and social ramifications aside, this is the crux of my concern.
 
2. Another thing that comes to mind, is, what if we pay someone to make us a website?

3. since the project is a mod, it uses the word "Tiberium" in the title, an IP owned by EA. So, if we made a domain name, what should we do?


1. Whether you pay anyone or not to collaborate with you on a project, you absolutely needed to have collaborators sign a collaboration agreement when the collaboration started. If you didn't do that before, you need to do so now. Collaboration agreement, collaboration agreement, collaboration agreement.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/article58.htm
http://maientertainmentlaw.com/2008/11/collaboration/

2. What's the issue? You want a good website, make it or pay someone to make it. If you think that person's work might become considered to be part of the valuable product, do a collaboration agreement.

3. Talk to EA. Edited by Tom Sloper

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sigh,

 

The mantel of the producer.....

Guess since we've been technically classed as a "mod", and passion project,  I've been wary of adding any barriers to entry, but now that we're becoming more and more professional, contracts are a necessity, not to mention the potential to go stand alone one day.

 

I've  kept  meticulous records of all credits, and communications tho.

 

When Trust and mutual respect is not enough......

 

Right then,

 

1. So, if there are former members, how will there collaboration agreements be different from current members?

 

2. What if there is no response or a refusal to sign from any of the former members?

 

3. Are there any circumstances where someone forfeits their intellectual property rights?

(such as documented malicious/ destructive behavior, or inaction?, tho action was possible (negligence) or even documented communications of surrendering of responsibility and interest?) 

 

4. Would an NDA be appropriate, or enforceable, if no monetary gain is expected under current projections?

Edited by GeneralJist

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1) They don't have to ve different. You just need to ensure that they're either giving you unlimited license to use their work, or have performed the work under direction of your company and are/have produced the work on behalf of the company (in exchange for money).

2) then you can't use their work. Get it out of the project.
Even in a modding/hobby situation, you're actually committing copyright infringement by distributing people's work without a licence to do so -- it's just that no one will ever sue in that situation :lol:

3) Their death plus 70 years.

4) Depends if you've got secrets worth protecting. NDA's are basically just a promise to sue them if they leak secrets. It's still a pain for you to actually carry out that threat in the event that someone breaks it.

Yeah a lawyer is advisable. Take every thing else with a grain of salt.

BTW, you will need a business (LLC, etc) if you don't already. You can also try and pay people with shares in that company instead of cash...

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