monalaw

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monalaw last won the day on November 3

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About monalaw

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  1. Game names inside of game engine

    1. Where are you located? 2. Where do you want to release the engine? 3. Is the game you're referencing still in active circulation? 3 of the first questions I'd ask as your lawyer. As Frob and Tom mentioned, this isn't a copyright issue, it's a trademark one. Trademarks are typically limited in geographic scope, and as I get the impression you're a non-native English speaker, there's a possibility that the TM's protection won't reach where you want to release or distribute. That being said, any time you release online and it results in US distribution, you may be exposing yourself to a TM suit in the US if you satisfy the minimum contacts requirement of our long-arm statutes. In plain English-- Unless you want to talk to a lawyer about this, you're really better off using a different name. Best, Mona
  2. Kylo's responses are on point, but want to add a couple notes: 1. If you release your library as open source, you aren't necessarily required to release any other source code BUT the library itself depending on the you choose. LGPL is usually a good bet if you want to avoid having to release the code as well. 2. The objective of enforcement under a copyleft/open source license is to prohibit people from releasing the code without attribution or without releasing the library or whatever code is shared as open source. So if you're going to enforce your open source license, you need to make sure they're actually "infringing" under the license itself, not under a traditional notion of copyright infringement. 3. Under any EULA you can specify what people can and cannot do with code that's made available. As with any license breach, if they fail to comply, that's infringement, because the license becomes invalid. So you can say in the license "licensee may use, modify, improve, update, or create derivative works of the Code (herein "Modifications"), but may not directly copy the same absent Modifications." Please note that this isn't something you'll see in an open source license-- it would be unique to your own EULA. 4. Unity has its own Terms of Service, which does offer some limitations of liability, etc., but those are mostly to protect Unity, not you. You will still want to make sure you have your own EULA for anything you publish or sell if you're concerned about what people can and cannot do with your content, and how you can be held liable.
  3. Like Jbadams said. It took me years to talk GD.Net into doing this, but if you plan on hosting content, you'll need to register a "copyright agent" with the Copyright office (copyright.gov), and include a DMCA takedown procedure and Counter Notification procedure in the Terms of Service for your game/server. It's a pretty straightforward process, but it's always best to consult an attorney (obviously doesn't have to be me, whoever you're comfortable with) when you're revising ToS or other legal documentation.
  4. So.... there's an aspect of game development that gets remarkably short shrift from Indies, which is understandable, but kind of problematic. That aspect is called "clearance". This is a process whereby your production team works with the legal team to identify all third party assets embodied in a game (whether it be copyrightable content (engines, art assets, code, music), trademarks, places, people, names, etc.), and determine whether the developer has the right to use those third party assets. If you ever try to get PLI/E&O insurance (which you should if your games/studio make enough money to make it worthwhile), you'll find that some policies will require clearance reports of properties prior to granting coverage on a property. And your question hints at why. You may need to be particularly careful of foreign historical landmarks, as some are more closely guarded than others. For example, in Egypt, the Supreme Council of Antiquities led by Dr. Hawass (personal note-- I'm only mentioning Dr. Hawass because he's also a family friend and I like to name drop, it's a bad habit) sought to copyright the Pyramids and other Egyptian antiquities and assets to prevent rampant unauthorized exploitation. This was back in 2008 and I haven't really kept track, but I know the Prime Minister signed off on it at the time. Other historical societies and local governments have strict rules concerning photography, etc. You also may have to consider whatever you're using as source material for those places-- are you using a photograph? A video? At that point clearance concerns are doubled, because now you also have to consider the author of the source material as well. As with all things, this is a cost-benefit analysis. You have to gauge the risk of exposure against the cost of protecting yourself. It's ultimately a business decision and as I am not your lawyer, I can't advise you on that point. But clearance is something developers should be aware of and consider as they develop. Best of luck! Mona
  5. How to protect yourself and your game?

    This is a question every developer struggles with, and I'm a bit late, but it never hurts to let an actual lawyer chime in on the topic. For adding new team members, you may want to consider a "collaboration agreement". If you're just hiring freelancers, you'll probably want a work-for-hire agreement. If you're concerned about enforcement, try not to hire outside of Berne Convention signatory countries and make sure your contract's choice of law and jurisdiction rules are local to you. But if you don't have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands to spend on legal enforcement, this is going to be difficult in any situation, regardless of where the freelancer is located. There are both technical and legal ways to protect your code more extensively than through the letter of an agreement, as well: 1. DRM and other copyright protection software that prohibits copying and/or constrains access; 2. Use of escrow accounts for code and payment; 3. Strict liquidated damages provisions in the event of breach of confidentiality/non-disclosure (this is a specified monetary penalty if they breach-- if you want to be REALLY anal you can require they post a bond into an escrow account, but no one would sign that); 4. Strict liquidated damages provisions in your non-compete/non-solicitation clauses. 5. MAKE SURE THEY HAVE INSURANCE (PLI/E&O, preferably with a Cyber liability rider to cover data breaches), and make sure you are a named beneficiary on their policy. 6. Make sure YOU have insurance, as well. Companies with more money are in a better position to protect their IP because, frankly, protecting IP is expensive. You have to play the cost/benefit game in determining how much you want to spend to protect it. And the best advise I can give anyone on this topic-- don't hire anyone unless you know their reputation and background. Only work with known professionals when possible. The second best advise is to contact a lawyer to determine what you should and should not disclose, and methods of disclosure that may be better suited to protecting your IP. Best of luck! Mona
  6. Assuming a contract of adhesion is legally binding under Danish Law in the first place. These things don't get challenged nearly often enough. Generally speaking, assuming your assets are not otherwise in violation of your license agreement with Unity, the Unity asset store license will cover any assets you sell through it from my experience.
  7. Are you developing a mod for counter-strike? Or a counter-strike like FPS game for Steam? Or are you trying to reskin it? I'm not sure what you're asking, but referencing a pre-existing IP is making my butt twitch a bit. Generally speaking, you need a license first and foremost to do ANYTHING with a pre-existing IP. If it's just an FPS with shared features (like every other FPS on the market) that's a different matter and I recommend contacting a game attorney (*wave*) if you have more specific questions.
  8. A new Game Style

    So not to split hairs, but how are you able to claim that it's "literally unheard of and Revolutionary" when you admit that you don't know anything about game design in the same breath? Fair warning, your post reads like a scam.
  9. A quick question about copyright

    you'd be more likely to run into trademark and trade dress issues rather than copyright, as the components you indicated are more representative of their respective franchises than as copyrightable subject matter. Of course, anyone suing you would likely raise both, as well as unfair competition and a few others.  As Frob said, the issue isn't whether or not you'd win on the merits, it's whether you can bear the cost of defending yourself even against a lawsuit with little merit. You weigh that against the likelihood that this will appear on any of the respective franchise owners' radars. Then you determine the value added by including those elements to the game itself. Looking at those factors, you can decide for yourself whether it's worth the risk. I long ago learned that telling people they "can't" is a waste of energy. They're going to do it anyway, even if the risk is high. It's like speeding on the interstate-- people are aware of the risks (as you are aware of the potential IP implications), but for whatever reason they think they're immune from the consequences or they can "read the system". Or they're in a legitimate hurry, and the consequences of being late are greater than the consequences of a $300 speeding ticket. Everyone has their own circumstances. In 99% of the cases I see the "borrowed" components don't add enough to your product to make it worth the risk of a lawsuit. This is probably one of them. 
  10.   Noooooope. I'm actually not even sure what you're trying to say here. Copyright is life of the author +70 years or 120 years from creation for anonymous works. Generally. Very, very generally. Determining copyright duration is a legitimate exercise in extreme patience and anal retentiveness, but this may help.    http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm     Sorry - i'm no business / laws guy.  But i remember from working at a record company: If the recording was dated 50 years back my company legally sold CDs (e.g. Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra) without paying (any?) usual fees / licenses. I don't know if that 'public domain' declartion covered anything involved (composition, lyrics, arrangements, musicans...). Maybe reselling that music was just cheaper than usual but not completely free. Maybe it covered only exceptions like live recordings or recordings not done by the original record company, dead Artists, my company was EU, or other special cases i'm not aware of.       Aaaaaah I've heard of that: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/12/arts/music/european-copyright-laws-lead-to-rare-music-releases.html   From my understanding it applies to unreleased music by artists-- if it's not exploited (published) within a particular time frame, the record label would lose rights to release. 
  11.   Noooooope. I'm actually not even sure what you're trying to say here. Copyright is life of the author +70 years or 120 years from creation for anonymous works. Generally. Very, very generally. Determining copyright duration is a legitimate exercise in extreme patience and anal retentiveness, but this may help.    http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm
  12. Combined derivative works ?

      What are the attribution requirements under your 3rd party IP/asset license with the copyright owner? 
  13.     Are you calling me cheap, Frob? ;) Yes, it's perfectly legal to enter a contract with an individual as another individual. It sounds like you're interested in either a work for hire, an assignment, or an exclusive, royalty free, perpetual, universal, alienable, and sublicensable right and license in and to the assets. And generally the agreement you want will contain all three, each to cover the event of the other not being enforceable. You should have an attorney at least review anything you're putting together, especially when it comes to composer agreements, as there are multiple moving parts you need to consider.     
  14. Music Rights

    Composer licenses have a bunch of different structures, and I gave a talk on the subject a while back (actually I somehow end up talking about licensing music in games quite a bit, but these are the recorded ones, so have fun):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkb2PryemW4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_6hxDP-V8g   Summarizing: You can go a few routes, based on the facts you presented: non-exclusive, perpetual, universal, irrevocable, transferable, sublicensable  exclusive, perpetual (or term), universal, irrevocable, transferable, sublicensable exclusive, term, universal, irrevocable, non-transferable, sublicensable   etc. etc. How you structure your license really depends on what you plan on doing with the music. If you want to release a soundtrack, for example, you'll want exclusive, perpetual rights, as you won't want that music to be available elsewhere.  If the contract is limited in term, this generally won't apply to copies that have already sold, but you'd basically have to pull the game at the end of the term.    Ultimately this will come down to your leverage and both parties understanding the licensing terms. I'm generally against templates for something like this, because that often results in a situation where neither party is 100% clear on the actual license terms. If you're willing to invest in a composer, you should invest in a lawyer to draft your composer agreement. 
  15. there's no such thing as a copyright in a name. The trademark is sufficient. It has a great big "DO NOT TOUCH" sign on it, so I would avoid it like the plague. I can attest (from experience as counsel) that, as frob mentioned, Nintendo is extremely aggressive about protecting their IP, and have gone after others for far, far less.