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Art ownership

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Hi, I''m currently working in an arcade going to be released as shareware, and I''m currently thinking in using collaborations from some talented people to help me fill the art requirements of the game (that is, I would work in the art as well). It would surely help me in the development in many ways, but mainly because it would be saving me time, and because there are surely artists more talented than me The way I would implement this "collaboration" would be the usual, the artist gets his name in the credits, and a nice extra line in his CV / portfolio. That''s all I can give right now, no money neither royalties from the game, and anyway I think it can be enough for many artists to volunteer their work (and yes, I''m not dreaming, I already have some names in my mind ). The question is, how can I protect myself from those artists claiming I cannot use their work anymore, once the game is released? I guess the problem is about ownership, then I wonder what can I do to assign myself some rights over those works... There is more... what if the artist creates a character, which appear to be very popular, and then I want to use it in some sequel of the game? A simple solution for this problem I thought is, I give the artist the sketches he has to base his work in, so that the property over the characters and main ideas in the art remains mine... However, it would kill some of the benefits from having an extra artist, that is, the creative flow. And it wouldn''t solve the problem with the rights over the final work. I''d like to know how do you manage those problems when working with external artists (I think I read that Pavlina used a volunteer artist for Dweep, for example), and if you think a paper contract is really necessary. I wonder if there is no way to create some kind of "online license" to cover the main legal issues. I really cannot afford an attorney now, so I''m looking for easier solutions, if there are any. If there aren''t, well, I guess I''ll have to use just my own art... Thanks in advance, and best regards, --DK --H. Hernán Moraldo http://www.hhm.com.ar/ Sign up to the HHM''s developers'' newsletter.

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Get them to sign a form that says something like "you grant [your company name or whatever] permission to use the art in their game"

They sign it or you find somebody else.

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Get a book on copyright law and pay careful attention to sections on copyright transfers. The only one I've read is called "The Software Developer's Complete Legal Companion". It's pretty good, but it's a little out of date in some respects.

[edited by - chronos on April 18, 2002 12:15:36 AM]

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You will need paper. It doesn''t have to be full of legal jargon or hard to understand... just make it short and to the point. Then you both sign it. The down side is that this will probably discourage the "volunteer" efforts, but it is the only way to protect yourself. If this kind of arrangement isn''t made in advance, then they DO own the art and it is perfectly reasonable for them to say, "no you can''t use that now, or use my character."

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You don''t need to transfer copyright. You just need any artist to sign a contract stating that they give you a permanent, irrevocable (except by mutual consent), non-exclusive license to use their submitted material in any current or future projects. They still own the material but you are granted the right to use it if you wish. Also ensure they are old enough for a written contract to be binding and you should be ok.

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Yes, DoctorK could obtain a license to the artwork instead of a copyright transfer, and he's far more likely to find artists who are willing to license artwork than are willing to give up all rights to it, but since he wants to be able to prepare derivative works such as sequels he'll have to be very careful when the time comes to specify the license terms.

Just make sure you understand exactly what you want to do with the artwork you receive, now and in the future, so that you don't later encounter problems because the license didn't allow you to do things like modify the artwork for use in current and future projects and in related materials such as websites.

[edited by - chronos on April 19, 2002 12:09:53 AM]

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just as a word of warning, if anybody within the group who is signing the contract is under the age of 18 it becomes a worthless piece of paper as minors cant enter a legally binding contract. instead you would have to get a joint signiture from the person and legal gaurdin of the person. i only mention this because some ppl here are under 18. also if they are not US citizens you may have problems as well. furthermore it must be a real signiture and not some digital copy. that means a physical meeting. sending through mail is only good if you REALLY trust the person. you may want to get a third party witness as well.

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