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Simple Copyrites issue in games

Posted on 2004-04-22
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Last Modified: 2013-12-04
Hi there

If my game theme/ graphics or story is based on any movie (note I am not copying any graphic files but creating them by myself) do I need to pay for any copyrites/royalty prior selling the game?
I personally dont feel so because we find many games on the mobiles tht r totally similar and even games like harry potter or hulk on PCs that just give a mention that to whom the film belongs and who hold its copyrites? Will a mention abt the source of inspiration b4 the game do?
Take for ex If I develop a game on "Charlies Angels" where in the story of the game is completely inspired from the movie, it has the 3 characters and I give a splash screen just b4 starting the game that the movie is a property of Sony and we are imitating for entertainment in games and have no contacts with it.
 I am asking this q not bcos I want some ones views but a solution tht is based on concrete knowledge

Thnx in advance
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Question by:dhasu
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Expert Comment

by:Venabili
ID: 10956972
In fact it is not a programming question at all...

I suppose you should just check with the film owners...

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Author Comment

by:dhasu
ID: 10957673
Thnx Venabili for ur time But I suppose this site is not just for prog q. It gives Solutions to any IT related q. I have even moved the q from the subsection to the main section (Thnx to the moderators for tht :) ). Incase there is some other channel more appropriate do suggest.And as far as the film owners are concerned they dont entertain every other programmer to ask whether they can use the movies theme. There might be some laws for tht. I just wanted a link to tht site. Thnx once again
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zinno earned 34 total points
ID: 10966749
U need permission! Do it before u start the project! (if u want to use names or art from movie or from other games). Maybe they will ask u to pay a fee, sign something ... but that depends.

Real example :)
if u want to make a free mod on the half-life engine (hobby programming), of a game called x-com ufo defend (http://www.xcomufo.com/), create a 3d version, nothing close to the real game. The publisher of X-com when contacted, will raise a big red flag! U can't use anything related to the game!

Scrap plan, build something else :)
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Assisted Solution

by:instruo
instruo earned 33 total points
ID: 10968449
Basically, what it comes down to is just how close your clone is.  IDEAS cannot be copywrited, only something "fixed in a tangible medium".  This means, you can't use names, likenesses that are overly close to characters, etc.  However, if you're totally entitled to make a game that is based on the same premise of Charlie's Angels, just be careful to avoid using anything directly FROM Charlie's Angels.  A pretty decent page on copyrights is located here:

http://www.patents.com/copyrigh.htm

Hope that answers your questions!
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Expert Comment

by:davebytes
ID: 11069540
dhasu -

I've been through this before with many starting developers.

If you never plan to release it, you can do anything you want!

If you plan to release it, even for free, you cannot use/reference copyrighted or trademarked materials without prior consent (and likely $$).  Examples in the recent past were a Stargate game that got shut down (that was a year or two back, and now there's news of a commercial product being developed fully licensed by the studio), and we've seen other TV and movie entities go after developers even in progress on a project and talking about it but not having released it.

Just because you 'give credit' doesn't do you ANY good.  It's their material, you can't use it.

You can in general parrot (similar concept, different implementation) or parody (same exact concept, but parodies are covered themselves), though there are points where you still get into gray areas.

Any BIG company goes out of their way to enforce their copyrights and trademarks.  They HAVE to, or risk losing them (if you don't enforce your marks, they revert to public domain, basically).  So WB, Universal, MGM, Sony, etc., come down on coders pretty quickly.  Also anything related to outside big licenses, i.e., Tolkein, Nascar, NBA, etc., have such huge money invested in the licensing that BOTH parties want to ensure no small groups are messing with their IP (intellectual property).

It's their idea, content, copyright, marks, it's their right to do as they see fit.

Welcome to the gaming industry -- if you can't pay for license to a big name, and can't hook up with a big name to partner on a project, you end up doing unlicensed products...

-d
www.chait.net
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Author Comment

by:dhasu
ID: 11295051
Sorry but I was on tour, Incase if possible I would like to continue this query feedback.......

OK now that all the gurus say that it wont b possible to make a game based on movie or replicate an existing game of some other platform to a different platform... can any one recommend me just 2 things as of now. One incase to cease the hurdles of copyright infringement we develop a gameplay from scratch how to get it copyrighted and what will be the cost. The other thing is if I distribute a game or any related content/document for that matter free of cost over the web will this reduce the copyrighting cost, since I am distributing it free can I get it copyrighted free?? Do revert back.
Incase if the moderators feel tht this thread should be stopped I humbly request them to let me continue to get a complete idea for my query. If not than I request the moderators decision......
Regds
dhasu
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LVL 17

Assisted Solution

by:davebytes
davebytes earned 33 total points
ID: 11296162
Make sure you state "Copyright (c)2004 by Zzzzzz, All rights reserved" in every source file, at the end of the documentation (if any), and on one of the splash screens loading the game.  There!  You've copyrighted it!  The same goes for trademarks, basically.

To make what I call a 'heavy copyright', you can send some portion of the work to the US Copyright Office -- but that isn't required.  (And for trademarks, a 'registered trademark' DOES get costly to file, and you need to pay every X years to keep the mark registered -- but again, isn't a requirement, certainly not at the start...)

Just because you release your game for free doesn't release your copyright/ownership of the work.  You can also add to the documentation and the splash screen a quick line about distribution -- you'll see such text on other products ("not for distribution on physical media or for-profit without the author's prior consent").

-d
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Author Comment

by:dhasu
ID: 11488536
Ok Go ahead ;) Thanx all the experts Will b in touch soon
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