[SOLVED] Copyright / License question regarding small dev team

Oracle-Raven

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Hi,
I have a copyright / license question regarding RPG Maker XP, RPG Maker VX & VX ACE and RPG Maker MV.

I'm part of a very small development team. The commercial project we're working on at current primarily uses RPG Maker MV. The final product will likely use RPG Maker MV once it is released for sale.

Person A received RPG Maker MV and RPG Maker VX Ace as a gift on Steam.
Person B has bought RPG Maker MV, RPG Maker VX Ace and RPG Maker XP on Steam.
Person C used to have RPG Maker XP and RPG Maker VX (not Ace) on their computer, but it fried. They still have assets and files from XP and VX (not Ace) on a USB stick from the time when the project was in its first stages of development. This includes assets for VX Ace from the Samurai Resource Pack.

Could anyone please help clarify what assets we are allowed and/or not allowed to use from each RPG Maker edition, and include in our final project? (RTP, sound, visuals, animations, tilesets, etc.).
Thanks!
 

MushroomCake28

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This is almost like an exam question for me lol.

Okay let me try to get through it. Here's the rules we are working with:
  1. You can only use assets from RPG Maker Engines you legally own.
  2. When working with a team, the person or entity who owns the rights to the project is the one who receives the benefits of the project but is also the one who is responsible of the project's obligations.
So let's analyze the two rules and interpret them. First of all, the first rules states that the requirement to use the assets from an RPG Maker engine is to legally own the engine. There's a difference between legal ownership and physical (or virtual in this instance) ownership. In other words, you could own legally an object but not own it physically, or vice-versa (example: someone who takes possession of a lost item before the prescription delay). With RPG Maker Engine, legal ownership means having paid for the engine and having the rights to use the engine and its assets. That right has no time limit, and as long as you have paid for the engine, you own the license for life. So even if you lost the access to the engine, you are still the legal owner of its license and therefore can still use its assets (this is for Person C).

Now, when it comes to the second rule, it states that the person/people or entity who owns the project is responsible of all its obligations. That means that everyone or the entity who owns the project must be the one who owns the license to all the RPG Maker Engine from which assets have been used. So if the project uses assets from XP, VX, VX Ace and MV, then all the people who own the project or the entity who owns it must own the license to all 4 engines.

Ownership of the project is another concept which needs clarifications. First of all what's an entity? Well it could be for example a corporation (in this example, the corporation would be the one who needs to own the 4 engines, and the people working for the corporation on the project wouldn't need to own the engines). Now if it's a personal company, or a personal association, or partnership (naming varies depending on countries, but it's essentially when people act directly as the owner rather than a abstract entity like a corporation) that owns the project, every one that is part of the association or is a owner of the personal company must own the 4 engines. In the case scenario, there's no abstract entity that acts as the owner, therefore all the owners act in solidarity and are all responsible of the company's obligations.

To add a layer of complexity, there's a difference between a person part of a partnership and external contractors. External contractors are only responsible of the obligations coming from the contract they have with the partnership, and they are in no way responsible of the actions and obligations of the partnerships. So in the case of external contractors, they need to themselves own the Engines from which they use assets, regardless of the status of the partnership. However, the assets from RPG Maker have an additional restriction: the owner of the project they are used in must own the engine from which they are from. So this leaves 2 scenarios, well 3 if you count the one where everyone owns all engines, but let's leave that scenario aside:
  • The partnership owns all engines, but contractor only owns some engines or no engine: In this scenario, the project can use assets from all engines and the assets created from the contractor, and the contractor can participate to the project in the limits of its contract. The only limitation is that the contractor can't use the assets from engines he/she doesn't own when creating assets for the project.
  • The contractors owns all engines, but the partnerships only owns some engines or no engine: In this scenario, the contractor is free to use assets from any engines to create assets. However the partnership can only use assets created with the engines it owns, and it can only use the assets from the contractors that where created with the help of assets from the engines that the PARTNERSHIP owns (not that the contractors own).
Also, the case of employees is pretty simple, they don't need to own the engines if they work for the corporation/partnership on a project.

TLDR: It all depends on all the relationships between every person with the project. Are you all in a partnership? Is it a corporation? Is it one owner with some contractors? Or are they employees? The answer to your question changes depending on the nature of the relationships.

Source: law student, third year. And bonus: I'm a law student from the province of Quebec Canada, so everything I said applies 100% to your situation.
 

Shaz

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lol - I was going to say that sounds like a lawyer :D

You say person C used to have XP and VX. Does that mean the owned those engines legally? In any case, if someone needs to work with the engine to contribute to your project, then they need to legally own that engine. So if your game is made with MV, person C could not contribute anything that requires them to work in the engine (database, maps, events).

However, if someone is contributing in a way that doesn't require them to use the engine (for example, they are creating art or music), then they don't need to own the engine.

The person who releases the game needs to own all engines used to make the game - so if you are using MV to build it, but including assets from Ace and XP, then that person needs to own all 3 engines. If the game is being released by multiple people, then all would need to meet that requirement.
 

MushroomCake28

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@Shaz You're missing the part where we need to know who owns the project and how they own it. If they all act as the owner of the project and publish it together on steam and make money from the project (not talking about a commission profit, talking about profits from the project itself), that is a partnership, which mean that they are all responsible of ALL the obligations of the partnership. In this scenario, they would need to all own the engines from which the resources are used. If they work together as a corporation, it is only the corporation that needs to own the engines from which the resources are used. If some are contractors, then the contractors only need to own the engines from which it took assets to create new assets for the project, but the owner of the project still needs to own the engine from which the asset is from (since that is a restriction attached to RTPs).
 

Oracle-Raven

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Thank you both so much for your answers! This is all very useful information, and exactly what I needed and wanted to know!
 

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