Copyright in non-commercial games

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SwarleyPilgrim, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. SwarleyPilgrim

    SwarleyPilgrim Internet Billionaire Veteran

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    A few years ago, a group of friends, and I, made a game with a great story and some really fun plot lines. The entire game is made of up references to pop culture, game references, and resources from other games/movies/TV. I would never EVER think of trying to sell this, as it's so so so full of things that aren't mine, but the story we came up with is too good not to share.

    What do you guys think about this? Is this a super no-no, or is it totally cool because it's just for fun, and not commercial gain? Do you think a game can be fun with other games resources, or do you find it offensive that someone would even do that?
     
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  2. TheOriginalFive

    TheOriginalFive Veteran Veteran

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    In the greater scheme of things, most companies would turn a blind eye to using their resources in your non-commercial project. However, they could turn around and issue a cease and desist if the project gets big.


    Are you just sharing it among your friends or a small audience? It's unlikely the companies would barge down your door to take it down.


    My personal experience? I had to ask for unofficial permission from another company to continue their abandoned game. I was granted it as long as I didn't make any profit via donations, ads, or sales.


    Since I wasn't allowed to use resources directly from the game, I had to source music from royalty-free sources and draw my own sprite graphics which resembled the abandoned game.
     
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  3. SwarleyPilgrim

    SwarleyPilgrim Internet Billionaire Veteran

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    @TheOriginalFive


    - It would only be passed around with friends, yeah. I was also wondering if something like that could be uploaded here, for anyone else to check out. Most resources are only used once, and very infrequently. Just for a quick joke or so, most often. If it got big, and it had to be taken down, I'd totally understand. Playing with other people's work isn't cool, but what I've done is all in good fun.
     
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  4. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Unfortunately, if it has resources from other games, it can't be shared. If the company ever finds out, all being non commercial does is (usually) reduce the amount of the fine they would hit you with. Some of it is due to how sticky US copywrite and trademark law is, though I understand Japan is looser. 


    Chances are most companies out there don't care, especially if the IP the work is from is dead and officially abandoned. But there is always the chance that the IP you borrowed from has been sold to Disney unknown to you, and they find out and send a C and D your way. So, for that reason it's best to never distribute it, I'm afraid.
     
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  5. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    Legally, copyright has nothing to do with the difference between commercial and non-commercial. In both cases, copyright violations are illegal and can be sued.


    The only legal difference is that the amount of money you can be sued for is bigger in case of commercial than in case of non-commercial, because in the case of commercial violation, damages can be added to the fee for the C&D (yes, you can be charged for the C&D and have to pay a few hundred $/€/whatever in addition to have to take it down, that depends on your local laws).


    That said, the company who's copyright you violated needs to gain knowledge of the violation before they can sue you - which means that it's unlikely if you only pass it to a few friends.


    However, if you place it online and it is good enough that it is mentioned by thousands of fans - the more fame you get, the higher is the risc that the company learns about it and sues you.
     
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  6. SwarleyPilgrim

    SwarleyPilgrim Internet Billionaire Veteran

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    @bgillisp


    - So unfortunate. It's crappy to use other people's work, I know, but it's all used in sort of a parody sense. I may try to remake it using similar characters instead of the acutal characters. I'm not an artist however, so it may not see the light for some time.


    @Andar


    - Always better to not risk it =P If you think what you have is good, others might think the same. Fame is nice, I'm sure, but being sued and losing money because of it doesn't sound as wonderful.
     
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  7. Makio-Kuta

    Makio-Kuta Canadian Goose Veteran

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    But I think that references to pop culture and such should be fine. (That would just fall under parody, wouldn't it? I mean, I really doubt the Disgaea games have got permission for every obscure thing referenced in their item descriptions. And I've never been slapped for referencing pop culture things.) But, as everyone else said, I would avoid using the resources from existing games and projects without permission, unless it's something you're just sharing with friends.


    No matter what though, with references, if you are asked by the company to stop - then stop. Also! Try not to paint something in a bad light when referencing it. I think a company will turn more eyebrows if you're talking about their property in a way that could tarnish its reputation.
     
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  8. SwarleyPilgrim

    SwarleyPilgrim Internet Billionaire Veteran

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    - I'm a big fan or games that make references like that. Deadpool and all that sort of aspect. For one instance, in the game we made, there is a theif character. His gimmick is that he steals things from other games to try to beat you. At one point he battles you with monsters he stole from some kid wearing a dumb hat (Pokemon), and in another spot, he jumps off a building and flies away in Bowser's clown car.
     


    Like it was said above though, it's fun and funny, but better off not shared online.
     
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  9. Makio-Kuta

    Makio-Kuta Canadian Goose Veteran

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    haha what a cute skill though.


    You could use still use something like that and make the reference less direct though. Make it not Pokemon but an obvious reference to Pokemon - don't use any of Pokemon's IP straight up. "I stole these from some kid wearing a dumb hat" was already enough for me to realize you were referencing Pokemon. If a generic mouse, bat, and lizard appear - well it'll seal the deal. The player will get it, the intent is still there, but you haven't actually stepped on Nintendo's IP.


    The Bowser's clown car is a little bit more difficult. But it could be any generic boss looking vehicle and have him gloat he stole that from "someone powerful who causes trouble for the heroes" or something. (you'd have the added bonus that it could also refer to Dr. Robotnik from Sonic too! Since he always escaped in that silly little egg-pod thing after being defeated.)
     
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  10. SwarleyPilgrim

    SwarleyPilgrim Internet Billionaire Veteran

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    - I adore the idea and the plot of the game, so I may have to attempt this. The references could very easily me made aware. Like you said, the dumb hat was enough for people to understand. My only problem is my lack of artistic ability. The game is done, with all the other content, all I need now is an artist. Maybe I'll get to looking into that. =3
     
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  11. Makio-Kuta

    Makio-Kuta Canadian Goose Veteran

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    Good luck :)
     
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  12. SwarleyPilgrim

    SwarleyPilgrim Internet Billionaire Veteran

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    Okay, let's take this for example.


    I want to put Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson into my game. I create a sprite that looks like him, but use a picture of his face found on google for his Faceset. I also want to use his entrance music at some point, but I find a cover of his song online.


    How much of this is okay?
     
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  13. Makio-Kuta

    Makio-Kuta Canadian Goose Veteran

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    I'm not well versed in copyright, so I'm not sure on that. But music I know you have to be especially careful about. (I never got canned for the old midis of copyrighted music I used in something though... but I can't really say how legit that is to use. Someone else might now the answer to that.)


    Using google image result graphics is a no. Because now you are treading into another area of copyright - someone owns those photos. Unless they say they are free to use noncommercially or in personal projects, I wouldn't risk the chance.


    However, what about having a character that's a literal rock named Dwayne and just drop some quotes or had some mannerisms that refer to him?? (I don't know enough about him to suggest things directly.) xD I mean, if it's a silly game - that could be fun.
     
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  14. SwarleyPilgrim

    SwarleyPilgrim Internet Billionaire Veteran

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    - Lots of ways around copyright, that's for sure =P  The literal rock thing is a great idea, because it does add to the sillyness of the game. Copyright is just such an interesting thing to talk about because so many people want their stuff protected, but soo many people also want to use that stuff.


    Crazy world!
     
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