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Mock ups and copyright

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Hey everyone,

 

I'm currently working on a turn based strategy game as a team of me (a designer) and a programmer. We have no artist at the moment. I have been making a mock up for a User Interface which uses copyrighted images from 25+ sources photoshopped together (mostly icons and UI boxes). I want to use this internally on the team as a way to judge layout, image size and readability and determining the theme we need. I don't want to keep any of the images and want the entire thing replaced before going public with the project.

 

My question is, can I use these mock ups to post on sites such as GameDev to garner feedback about layout, theme and clarity? Does a disclaimer stating that I don't own these images or have any intention of using them for anything commercial do anything? Can it be used to generate interest in the project?

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Well, it is still illegal. Not matter what you use it for.

 

As long as you only use it internally I see no way you could get into trouble for it. As soon as you make it public SOMEWHERE (yes, also here on gamedev.net), there is a chance someone owning the copyright sees it and makes a move against you.

 

If you are only doing layout work, why can you not either mockup the images yourself (work with boxes and other proxies instead of the real thing), or use free images you can find aplenty on the net (takes more time to read the license agreement, sure...)? I think it would make a better impression used in a professional environment (like here on gamedev), and given you most probably want more finished art first before trying to generate interest (you only get to make one first impression after all), you will not want to use your mockup art for that anyway.

 

I would advise you to only use your current mockups which are infringing upon copyrights internally, and translate that into a new mockup made with non infringing art for showing to outside people.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Does a disclaimer stating that I don't own these images or have any intention of using them for anything commercial do anything?

No. Copyright covers the right to copy (hence the name). If you don't hold the rights then the copy is unauthorized and probably illegal. Any claim to ownership, or absence of it, is completely irrelevant.

(Yes, YouTube is full of 'I do not own this music' disclaimers but they count for nothing.)

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I agree, layout can be done in boxes, but layout is only a part of what images can convey. Questions such as "Does an icon this size look legible in this layout" requires an image. But I think I'll take your advice and find some free images to replace the ones I have to use outside of internal use.

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I want to use this internally on the team ... I don't want to keep any of the images and want the entire thing replaced before going public with the project.
My question is, can I use these mock ups to post on sites


So you're going to make sure none of those images ever go public, but you want to post them on sites?

I see a contradiction here.

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So you're going to make sure none of those images ever go public, but you want to post them on sites?

I see a contradiction here. 

 

 

It may seem slightly contradictory Tom, but it's not really. By going public, I mean the act of attempting to reach a wide audience and gain recognition for my game. Things like, showing other people's work and claiming "This is my game!". Posting on a forum for game developers to ask opinion doesn't seem quite the same as that.

 

@Frob

 

I agree with everything you've said, it does seem to only be slightly on the wrong side. Still, is it worth it? And it seems like such an easy slippery slope too, asking for opinion can easily lead to gaining interest which is basically promoting. At that point, I'll be generating potential future revenue for something I didn't make.

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It may seem slightly contradictory Tom, but it's not really. By going public, I mean the act of attempting to reach a wide audience and gain recognition for my game. Things like, showing other people's work and claiming "This is my game!". Posting on a forum for game developers to ask opinion doesn't seem quite the same as that.


It's not "slightly" contradictory. I love everything frob said above (and upvoted it accordingly), but I
see a clear demarcation line between safety and risk. Absolute safety is not letting anyone outside of the
team see it. Let anyone outside the team see it, and you're in risky territory.

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In addition to the above, there isn't just the legal risk. I chided another poster recently for not
considering the moral aspect. Using copyrighted images of others does not harm the owner of the copyright
if you use it in complete privacy. But as soon as you step over that line, there is the potential
for harm. (Again, I like what frob said, but still.)

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That's where that second unofficial prong comes in:  How does it feel? Does it feel like it is being used in bad ways?

 

I can imagine people using it in ways that feel evil or scummy.  If it looks like you are trying to pass of something that isn't yours or make a buck on something that isn't yours, that feels wrong at the very least, and probably would not stand up to scrutiny.

 

But I can also imagine people using it in ways that don't feel evil. You're using it because it happens to demonstrate a talking point. You could use any other image but happened to use that one which was on the internet. You could have replaced it with other concept art if you had it, but you don't, so you use something that is moderately representative.  You might have even take steps to blur out anything not related to the concept you are trying to discuss.  That does not feel evil, it feels like you are using an example to have a conversation.  That is generally (but not always) allowed by fair use in the rare cases people bother to sue.

 

ANY use of the images carries a slight risk of lawsuit. ANY lawsuit costs a lot of money.  The risk is not zero.  If something legal happens against you the cost can be larger than you want to bear.  But people take risks every day.  Every time I go outside or travel down the road I take a risk of death, yet I find the risk acceptable.

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