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Getting a permission then the owner sells his rights ? Could I get affected ?

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#1 mahri726   Members   

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 08:04 AM

Hi. I wanted to make a fan game, and I requested permission via email to use a character. The copyright owner allowed me to use his character, as long as my game is not commercial. Now, I have seen that he is considering selling his rights to a publisher or a bigger studio. If he sells his rights and I release my game, could it be taken down by the publisher, altough I got permission from the previous copyright owner ?



#2 Kylotan   Moderators   

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 08:54 AM

The short answer is that you can always be threatened with court action, and that can end up expensive, even if they have little chance of winning the case. So if that worries you, give up now.

 

Assuming that's not an issue, the situation you're in is awkward. Technically he has given you a licence for a certain kind of usage, and yet he will probably be selling an exclusive licence to the publisher or studio. That essentially makes him the one in the wrong as he's selling something that he no longer really has. If you can prove this, you might be able to defend your position and continue with your game. Practically, however, you might just find yourself on the end of threats from the company's legal department, who might claim that your permission via email is fake, or they may even be able to claim that the contract is invalid since there was no consideration from your side. ("Consideration" here is a legal term implying payment or some other concession made by you to secure the deal.)

 

Fan games are a troublesome field to deal with. The only way to be safe is to steer clear.



#3 Tom Sloper   Moderators   

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 10:08 AM

The copyright owner allowed me to use his character, as long as my game is not commercial. Now, I have seen that he is considering selling his rights to a publisher or a bigger studio. If he sells his rights and I release my game, could it be taken down by the publisher, altough I got permission from the previous copyright owner ?


Since you have a written "contract," you are okay until and unless the
new owner terminates your contract. I'm not a lawyer, so don't rely on
what I say.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#4 mahri726   Members   

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 12:55 PM

I have seen that the owner said that selling his rights to a company is an option among others, altough he doesn't find it very appealing. It seems extremely unlikely for this to happen, based on the feedback that fans gave him. In this case, I guess it is safe to work on the fan game. 



#5 monalaw   Moderators   

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 07:09 PM

Generally when there's an asset sale all licenses and contracts made by the original owner are transferred to the new owner, so yes, the purchaser of the IP could step in and revoke your license unless your license stipulates otherwise. If you're concerned you can request a formal gratis license that would require future assignees to honor and maintain your license, but unless you intend on paying something for it the original IP holder has no motive to comply. 

 


~Mona Ibrahim
Senior associate @ IELawgroup (we are all about games) Interactive Entertainment Law Group

#6 fredericvanmol   Members   

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 01:53 PM

Also, talk to a lawyer if you're uncertain.