The Creator's Legal Clinic: Advices and Explanations

MushroomCake28

KAMO Studio
Global Mod
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
2,976
Reaction score
3,985
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Disclaimer: Knowledge and limits of responsibility

First of all, let me say that all incoming advices and explanations are from me. My legal knowledge comes from currently being a Law student at a Canadian University with about one year left (at the time of writing, April 2019. I still got to take the Bar afterward), and I mostly focus on commercial law (when we have optional classes, I usually take all the commercially related ones since I want to practice in that area in the future). So not being a barred attorney yet, I can't give legal advice for a client, nor do I have the necessary legal insurances. However, what I can do (and will do here) is give explanations on general questions and give general advices on general situations. What I can't do is give specific advices for someone pertaining their particular project or business.

On that note, feel free to ask anything that isn't specific to your project. I will answer to the best of my abilities and update the questions/answers list down below. Also, if there is any inaccurate information or error, please notice me and will correct it immediately.

Note on the legal validity based on geographical jurisdictions
An important and legitimate questions arises from the simple fact that many of us live in different countries than others and therefore abide by different laws and answer to different authorities. This however has a limited impact here since the most important rule in commercial law is that "the contract is the rule of the parties" and that it usually takes precedent over laws. This principle is however also limited by 2 facts:
  1. Contracts can't go against public order laws (ex: you can't have a clause that makes someone a slave for all eternity since slavery is illegal in most countries), and public order laws are different in different countries.
  2. International laws and customs offer an international basis for certain things. Some customs are so uniform and used across the world that they constitute customs that can't be ignored by a contract, sometimes even explicitly (ex: the Force Majeure clause).
As for the provenance of my legal formation, it will be mainly based on Canadian laws, more specifically federal laws (public sector) and Quebec's provincial laws (private sector). I want to add that Canadian laws have a common law tradition, so it highly resembles many things in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. In addition to that, Canadian laws are highly inspired by the United States legislation and jurisprudence, especially since the Canadian Supreme Court seems to almost be in love and always follow the US Supreme Court. So to sum it up, if you're from Canada, the US, or a Commonwealth country, chances are your laws are similar, or at least very similar, to what I will be describing.

QUESTIONS: Everything on the commercial aspect of a project
Q: What makes a project commercial? (the principle of the commercial aspect)

A: The general consensus in the usual business practices is that the moment you gain money, directly (ex: sell your game for a set price) or indirectly (ex: receive money from the site known for donations, banned from this forum, known as Pa-treon, crowdfunding, adds), it makes your project commercial. However, this definition is a general definition and it can be redefined in a contract by the consensual agreement of both parties.

For more info, check out the legal definition in the US law, and see the definition proposed by Creative Commons:

Definition: "The term “used for commercial purposes” means the carriage of persons or property for any fare, fee, rate, charge or other consideration, or directly or indirectly in connection with any business, or other undertaking intended for profit." (18 US Code Section 31) (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/31).

From Creative Commons (to give an idea on international customs): "The definition of commercial use is broad, covering more than just obvious 'profit-making' uses. In practise, the term is equivalent to income-generating use of any kind, whether direct or indirect." (https://www.thehelpful.com/creativecommons/what-is-commercial-use.html)

Q: If my project doesn't make money, is it still considered commercial?

A: It can still be considered commercial. Remember, the principle to evaluate if your project is commercial is to ask yourself if your project makes money directly or indirectly. The criteria isn't if your project makes a profit, it's either it generates money or not. Do not forget that profit = money generated - money spent. The money spent is not relevant to the commercial attribute of your project.

Q: If all the money I receive is used to finance the project, by for example buying assets, and that I also make no money from my project, can it be considered non-commercial?

A: No. How you spend your money is irrelevant to evaluating the commercial aspect, or lack of it, of your project. The question isn't how the money is spent, it is if there is any money earned directly or indirectly by or for the project.

Q: Does that mean that the moment I buy an asset, it makes my game a commercial game?

A: No, your game can still be considered a non-commercial game, but there are a lot of things to consider. First of all, let's be reminded that the commercial aspect can be defined in a contract with the asset creator. In that scenario, the definition of commercial will be the one from the contract, not the one from the laws and customs. However, in the lack of a consensual and contractual definition, it's the rule of either your project generated money directly or indirectly. If you spend money or how much you spend doesn't matter, it's if you generated money or how much you generated (directly or indirectly) that matters.

QUESTIONS: Copyrights and Patents
Q: Can I use the default RPG Maker RTP assets in other projects?

A: The answer depends on 2 criteria that must both be respected:
  1. You must own the RPG Maker Engine from which the RTP assets you are using come from.
  2. You must use those assets for a project created with an RPG Maker Engine.
In order for you to be able to use RTP assets in your project, you must respect both criteria. Here are a couple of examples of legal and illegal usage:
  • Using RPG Maker MV's RTP assets in a project created with RPG Maker MV: legal of course.
  • Using RPG Maker VX Ace's RTP assets in a project created with RPG Maker XP: legal if you own both VX Ace and XP. If not, it's illegal.
  • Using RPG Maker MV's RTP assets in a project created with Unity: illegal.
From RPG Maker MV EULA, Article 5: Licensing
The Company shall license use of the Software as follows limited to cases where the User is a Licensed User.
  1. Creation of original games (henceforth, “User Games”) using the Software (including the computer programs comprising the Software) and the materials (referring to text, music, images, etc., henceforth, “Company Materials”) recorded in the Software. Furthermore, the User cannot record or use, etc. Company Materials in the original games they create using creation tools, etc. they created or provided by third parties without obtaining the Company’s advance written consent.
  2. To transfer, rent, screen, public broadcast, or make transmittable (henceforth, generally referred to as “distribute, etc.”), whether for fee or gratis, the User Games created in accordance with the previous Paragraph. However, in such cases, the User shall abide by the “Game Distribution Terms” appended to this Agreement.

Q: Do I have to register my project to have copyrights on it?

A: No. For most countries, the creator is presumed the legal owner of his work and have the intellectual property on it. Furthermore, because of many international conventions, you can claim your ownership in most countries. However, some countries allow you to publicly register your work legally by following a procedure, but that only helps you reinforce your ownership presumption. This is an unnecessary step, but could help if you want to be extra safe. However, I believe that the inconveniences of the procedure (usually annual costs, annual review, or the hassle in general) is not worth for most project of little size.

When you sue someone for infringement of copyright, you can ask for an injunction (order someone to do something, or prevent someone to do something), and you can ask for compensation for the money you loss or the money the other party gained. To ask for punitive damage, you have to prove bad faith. Since the other party can always claim that they had no idea they infringed on your copyrights, it's important to always include a line with © copyrights in your project, preferably at the beginning of your game.

Q: What's the difference between a patent and a copyright, and is it relevant here?

A: No, it isn't relevant. Patents and copyrights are two different types of intellectual property that offers the owner of its right the exclusive right to exploit the object of the intellectual property. However, that object differs for patents and copyrights.
  • Copyrights: They protect the right of the author of an original work, that is either literary, dramatic, musical and artistic (it is a limited list of categories in Canada because of the Copyright Act, but the general idea must be the same for other countries). The work needs to be original.
  • Patents: Is an invention, not a work, which refers to any "new and useful art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement in any art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter" (Patent Act, Canada). That list is generally an exhaustive list of categories (in Canada, see Havard College v. Canada, [2002] 4 RCS 45). Furthermore, the invention must be completely new, it must be useful (so have a practical application), and must not be evident (easily deduced).
As you can see, copyrights protects work (simply have to prove the originality of the work) and patents protect invention (have to prove that it's from one of the named categories, that it is new, have a practical application, and isn't evident). In the case of game projects, it is a work of art and is therefore protected only under copyright laws. Unless you create a game engine which use new rendering and computation techniques, you own copyrights, not a patent (which must be filed anyway).

Q: Can I edit an asset or a plugin that I got legally from a third-party?

A: The answer is simple: you can't edit or modify an asset or plugin unless the asset's creator or the plugin's author has explicitly allowed you to do so. It could be a personal permission (for example you messaged the creator and he gave you his/her ok), or simply a general term (something like "Edits are allowed").

Q: If I can't edit an asset or a plugin, can I at least be inspired by it and create my own?

A: Yes, you can. The only problem is the thin line between inspiration and editing, or variations like it's called in the world of art (especially in music). It is purely a case by case factual analysis, and there are no theoretical test to know if you've crossed the inspiration line into the infringement territory.

However, I want to add that ideas aren't protected under copyrights. You can't own an idea.
17 U.S.C. §102(b):
In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
Q: What about fair use? Is that a way to use a copyrighted asset without permission?

A: Fair use is indeed a counter-balancing force to copyrights that allow someone to use a copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder if certain conditions are met. I highly doubt there ever be a justified case of fair use in a commercial game though, even most non-commercial games. Also note that Fair Use is a US thing, incorporated to copyright laws in the US. There is something similar in Canada called Fair Dealing. But for all other jurisdictions, I cannot say if there is something similar to fair use and fair dealing.

Anyways, here's the disposition:
17 U.S.C. § 107
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Note that those factors aren't part of a test where each of them must be passed. Factors are simply things to take into consideration while determining if fair use is applicable or not, and it's all about balancing the factors.

TLDR: Fair Use most likely won't apply in the context of game making.

QUESTIONS: Trademarks
Q: What is a trademark?

A: A trademark is a symbol, a word, a group of word, an image, or anything legally accepted signs used by a company to distinguish their products and services from other companies. The object of a trademark can vary from one country to another, but most countries accept symbols, words and images. Some countries even accept sounds as a trademark.

Q: What is the importance of trademark?

A: Trademarks are a form of intellectual property and can be worth a lot. Truth be told, intangible assets (which intellectual property is part of) now represents a much bigger percentage of big companies' assets than tangible assets. In 2018, tangible assets represented only 16% of the the company value of all companies in the S&P 500, compared to intangible assets that represented 84%. Nobody disputes the fact that the brand Apple alone is worth billions of dollars, without even counting any of their physical assets. Building a trademark is a key to success in any business, including game making. We all know who Nintendo is and what games they make. We all know Mario, Pokemon, Zelda, etc.

Q: How can I create a trademark?

A: Most companies use a logo (Apple, Nike, Microsoft, Tesla, etc.), and sometimes they add words (McDonald's, Google, NVIDIA, AMD, etc.). All you need is a distinguishable logo, with or without words (usually the name of your business as it is known by people), and you need to show that logo on your products, in your games, on your website, etc. Just expose people as much as you can to your trademark.

Q: What are the difference between the trademark laws between the US and Canada?

A: The US and Canada share almost the same legal framework for trademarks. We have the same rules for trademarks, but the US have more legal recourse and a bit more protection in general. So when I list a Canadian or US law or jurisprudence, you can consider it valid in both Canada and the US. The EU also follow similar rules, but I'm only well versed in Canadian law, with a good understanding of the US laws (since we are such close neighbors).

Q: Do I need to register my trademark? How do I legally own it?

A: Yes and no. The basic principle is that a trademark is born and owned solely by its use. So if you're using a trademark (that isn't used by someone else of course, and there's also some legal restrictions, like you can't pretend to be the US government), you have the rights to that trademark (called non-registered trademark). To use a trademark, you must show it on your products and services.

Article 4 (Trademark Act, Canada):
(1) A trademark is deemed to be used in association with goods if, at the time of the transfer of the property in or possession of the goods, in the normal course of trade, it is marked on the goods themselves or on the packages in which they are distributed or it is in any other manner so associated with the goods that notice of the association is then given to the person to whom the property or possession is transferred.

(2) A trademark is deemed to be used in association with services if it is used or displayed in the performance or advertising of those services.

However, since someone who claims he/she has a right always have the burden to prove it, it is recommend to register your trademark with the public responsible for trademarks in your country. Most countries have a public database of all the registered trademarks in your country, and having a registered trademark will create a legal presumption that you have the rights to the trademark and that you are using it.

Q: What constitute an infringement of trademark? What are the legal actions to deal against infringements?

A: Trademark infringements are dealt with two major legal actions (there are some other, more specific, legal actions in the US): the forgery/counterfeit action (only available to registered trademarks), and the passing off action (available to registered AND non-registered mark). Let's examine both:

Forgery/Counterfeit Claim (article 19 and 20, Trademark Act, Canada):
  • This is used when someone who isn't authorized to use a trademark sells, distributes, manufacture, or advertises any goods or services with that trademark, or linked to that trademark, or with a trademark that might cause confusion with the infringed trademark (this is way more frequent, and I'll explain that criteria later).
  • In other words, the owner of a registered trademark has the rights to be the only one to exploit and use his/her trademark to manufacture, sell, advertise, or distribute goods or services. He/she also has to rights to authorize third parties to use the trademark.
  • So this action protects you against someone else using a trademark that might be confused with your trademark, or simply against third parties using your trademark illegally.
Passing Off/Unfair Competition claim (article 7, Trademark Act, Canada):
  • This legal action covers all the counterfeit's possible claims and much more. This action is way more generous in what it protects, but it is harder to win in court.
  • This action protects you from everything the counterfeit claim protects you from, but it also protects you from false advertising of your trademark and products, defamation against your trademark, third parties trying to pass off their products as yours, etc.
  • The confusion criteria still applies here when needed.

Q: What is the notion of confusion between trademarks?

A: The notion of confusion is the notion that is used to determine if there's an overlap between two or more trademarks, which would mean that one of them is infringing on the other. The criteria of confusion goes like this:

From Coca-Cola Co. v. Pepsi-Cola Co., (1942) 2 D.L.R. 657 (P.C.):
As a matter of first impressing on the mind of an ordinary and average person having a vague recollection of the first brand/trademark, would the use of both brands/marks or names in the same area in the same manner is likely to lead to the inference that the services associated with those marks or names are performed by the same person?
If the answer to that question is "yes", then there's confusion between two trademarks, and the one who is registered, or if both are not registered the one that has been used first, will be the trademark that is infringed upon. While evaluating if there's confusion, the court take into considerations 5 criteria:

Article 6 (Trademark Act, Canada):
In determining whether trademarks or trade names are confusing, the court or the Registrar, as the case may be, shall have regard to all the surrounding circumstances including
(a) the inherent distinctiveness of the trademarks or trade names and the extent to which they have become known;​
(b) the length of time the trademarks or trade names have been in use;​
(c) the nature of the goods, services or business;​
(d) the nature of the trade; and​
(e) the degree of resemblance between the trademarks or trade names, including in appearance or sound or in the ideas suggested by them.​
A couple observations:
  • Trademarks can be similar to other trademarks if there are no risk of confusion between both in the mind of consumers. This often happens when both trademarks aren't used in the same area and/or in the same industries. See Mattel, Inc. v. 3894207 Canada Inc., 2006 SCC 22. (In that case, a restaurant was using the name Barbies to exploit its many restaurants. Obviously Mattel, the company who owns the barbies dolls tried to sued them but lost in Supreme Court because it was clear that the Restaurant Barbies had nothing to do with the doll Barbies. So there was no confusion in the mind of regular consumers).
  • When trying to decide if there's confusion between two trademarks, the court will examine both trademarks as a whole, meaning they won't dissect the trademarks and check if there are little bits of similarities between both. See Miss Universe, Inc. v. Bohna, [1995] 1 FC 614.
Q: Can I use or refer to real trademarks in my game?

A: Yes, as long as you aren't infringing upon them (see the confusion criteria above, and also defamation and false advertising rules, see second paragraph for that). As a general rule, if a regular consumer wouldn't think that your game is associated with the company that owns the trademark, you are fine. Concerning the damage you might cause to the image of the trademark, see the next paragraph.

Video games are considered artistic works by the Supreme Courts and are by consequence protected by free speech ( Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. 786 (2011) ). The Courts then developed a two steps test to see if the use of a protected trademark in a work protected by the first amendment is legal. It's called the Rogers test (from the Rogers v. Grimaldi case):
  1. whether the use of the third-party trademark has artistic relevance; and
  2. if so, is it deliberately misleading as to the source or content of the work. (which goes back to the confusion criteria mentioned above. In other words, would people think that the company that owns the trademark is the author of your game).
If the use of the trademark is artistically relevant and isn't misleading, it isn't an infringement of copyright.

NOTE: This doesn't mean you can show an image of McDonald's logo downloaded from Google in your game for example. The image would still be subject to copyrights.

QUESTIONS: Team Projects
Q: Can we use resources from engines we don't own if someone else in the team owns that engine?

A: This is a rather complicated question... the answer is that it depends on the relationship of every one with each other and with the project. Here's a little summary:
  • In the case of a corporation: If the project is part of a corporation, only the corporation needs to own the license to the RPG Maker Engines*** (see note 2) from which the assets are used.
  • In the case of a partnership: If the project is property of the partnership, every members of the partnership must own all RPG Maker Engines from which the assets are used. The exception to the rule is if the owner of an intellectual property not owned by one member is the property of another member of the partnership (for example, if Apple and Samsung create a partnership to create a product, Apple will be able to use Samsung's intellectual property for that particular product).
  • In the case of contractors: Contractors aren't responsible of the partnership or the corporation's obligations. However, RTPs have another restriction: the owner of the project in which they are used must own the engine they are from. So effectively, the contractor doesn't need to own every engine from which assets have been used in the project, but they must own every engine from which assets have been used by them to create new assets for the client. Also, the client must own the engine from which the contract used assets from.
Note: The situation in partnership is debatable (but trust me you don't want to debate about that in front of a judge even if you may be right. It is not impossible to encounter people that will sue you for any reason, even though it is unlikely). It is my understanding from reading RPG Maker MV's EULA, especially Article 5 (1), Article 7(1), and the Game Distribution Terms Article 1 (1) and 2 (3), especially this last one (GDT art. 2 (3)):
... However, the User may, without compensation, reproduce, transfer, publically broadcast, or make transmittable any Company Materials they modified themselves to another Licensed User.
Although the situation of multiple licenses spread across different members of paternership isn't covered in the terms, it seems to imply indirectly that being a licensed user is a condition to be able to work on project with assets from Kadokawa. In absence of explicit articles stating the right to share license privileges inside a partnership, I personally would advise sticking to the principle of restrictive interpretation and assuming that it is not allowed.

Note2: The case of a corporation can be complicated since most RPG Maker engine's EULA don't take into consideration of a corporation buying a licence. However, if we take RPG Maker MV's EULA for instance, there is a clause about educational institutions (article 6 (2) ):
However, in cases where educational institutions, etc. require multiple licenses, advance notice shall be given and usage conditions shall be determined in accordance with a separate consultation and agreement with the Company.
We can infer from that the corporations follow similar rules, or at least that's Degica's intentions. Although it is better to simply consult Degica, it would be reasonable to believe that the corporation must have as many licenses of the engine as it has workstation working in RPG Maker. However, since the corporation has its own distinct property (it's the corporation that owns the project, not the employees), we can still say that the corporation only needs to buy assets (DLCs for instance) only once, unless the DLC's EULA states otherwise.

Q: What's a corporation? And what's a partnership? What's the difference between both?

A: Legal definition might vary slightly from jurisdictions, but it's usually pretty similar between Western countries. In general, corporations are abstract legal entities that are separated from the people who owns it (usually called shareholders). A Partnership is an agreement between or more people to form an organization to carry a particular business. The main difference between both is that in the corporation, the owners are separate legal entities from the corporation, which is not the case in a partnership, where the members of the partnerships form the same legal entity as the partnership.

To explain what all of this means, in a corporation the owners of the corporation aren't personally responsible for corporation's obligations, but in the partnership the members are personally responsible of the partnership's obligations. If we use the example of RTPs, since the owners are a separate entity from the corporation it is the corporation that needs to own the RPG Maker engines from which the resources are used. In the case of a partnership, since the partnership doesn't form a separate legal entity from the members every member must own the RPG Maker engines from which the resources are used.
 
Last edited:

Finnuval

World (his)story builder and barrel of ideas
Veteran
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Messages
1,613
Reaction score
5,072
First Language
Dutch
Primarily Uses
RMMV
This is gonna be useful to link to next time someone asks about it :cutesmile:
 

atoms

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 31, 2013
Messages
495
Reaction score
295
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MushroomCake28 Really well explained, thanks. Just one more thought I have. Perhaps add an explanation as to which category donations fit in as well? So, for example, sites like Itcho, I notice RPG Maker projects can be free, but gives the option to give the developer of the game a small donation.

Does that then also count as commercial? As you can gain money through it, but the definition of that money is still all optional donations.

That's one thing I'm not sure about, based on what you wrote here I'd almost say commercial, but I still can see it going both ways.
 
Last edited:

MushroomCake28

KAMO Studio
Global Mod
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
2,976
Reaction score
3,985
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@atoms First of all, if you are trying to determine if it's commercial or not to be able to use some third party assets (DLC), don't forget that the definition of "commercial" is determined by that third party.

If there is no definition, donations would make a project commercial usually. The money you receive would be indirectly related to your project, which would make it commercial. The criteria take into consideration the "why" or "how" you receive money. The moment your project makes money, no matter how, it should be consider commercial. So yes, donations count as commercial.

One way to bypass that would be to be considered a non-profit organisation, since they are allow to make money if it's to pay the expense of their non-profit activities, but honestly I wouldn't go there. First of all, what defines a non-profit organisation and their advantages is very different depending on countries, and even if you are one, you'd still have to convince others that aren't from your country that you are one.

Hope that helps.
 

atoms

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 31, 2013
Messages
495
Reaction score
295
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MushroomCake28 I see, to me that's also the most sensible approach in most cases to still see optional donations as being commercial. But knowing for certain that they are almost always commercial is something I've been wondering, and I can also see knowing that information for certain could possibly help certain people for sure.

Thanks for all the very useful information here, and the answer to my question too!
 

Marquise*

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
Messages
4,853
Reaction score
8,172
First Language
French-Canadian
Thanks! I am Canadian too and... yeah let say on an international level, protection of IP concerns me a lot. ^^
 

Kupotepo

Fantasy realist
Veteran
Joined
Jul 5, 2017
Messages
959
Reaction score
900
First Language
Thai
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MushroomCake28, isn't true that if people who determine to sue you will you sue no matter what? No matter how bad faith of a case might be. Before a lawsuit, there are alternative dispute resolutions such as arbitration and mediation, negotiation. That was my thought when I listen to my defense lawyer professor's cases. Some people use lawsuits to make money from poor people which is fearful of long draining lawsuit attack.
 

MushroomCake28

KAMO Studio
Global Mod
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
2,976
Reaction score
3,985
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Thanks! I am Canadian too and... yeah let say on an international level, protection of IP concerns me a lot. ^^
Great to see a fellow Canadian (may I assume Quebecois also?)! As for intellectual property for game makers as ourselves, we don't have much to worry about since we are well protected legally.

@MushroomCake28, isn't true that if people who determine to sue you will you sue no matter what? No matter how bad faith of a case might be. Before a lawsuit, there are alternative dispute resolutions such as arbitration and mediation, negotiation. That was my thought when I listen to my defense lawyer professor's cases. Some people use lawsuits to make money from poor people which is fearful of long draining lawsuit attack.
Yes there are "alternative" ways to fix a conflict. We call them private dispute preventions and resolution processes. They aren't real alternatives, since they happen before a trial to prevent a trial. If an agreement is reached after using one method of private prevention and resolution process, there will be no need to go to trial (you often see it in legal tv series lol). Mediation and arbitration are some of the private dispute prevention and resolution process.

Mediation is a process that happens before a trial and if success will end in an agreement between both parties (so no trial). If unsuccessful, a trial will occur. But "agreement" is the keyword here: you need the consent of both parties.

Arbitration is a kind of private trial (with both parties, their attorneys, and a real judge). It must be agreed in advance in a contract (like for example for a co-venture between two companies, they will agree to fix all there problems through arbitration instead of a trial), meaning before there is any trouble. So once a problem arises, you can't just decide you don't want to do arbitration since you already agreed to do it contractually. The advantage over a traditional trial is that it isn't public (which is the main concerns of companies that don't want their legal problems made public) and it's faster (easier and faster rules for evidences, witness, ruling ,etc.).

Well everyone has the right to sue, even for terrible reasons, and yes a lot of people (usually company) use that power to threaten people or put pressure on a less powerful competitor. However, remember that good faith is presumed and that it is to the party that alleges bad faith to prove it. There are ways to throw those cases away before they start, usually during a pre-trial hearing where the defense often try to justify to the judge that the case has no legal basis, or is a result of bad faith. However, I don't think people use bad faith lawsuits to steal money from poor people... I mean poor people have no money to steal lol. It's a lot more likely that companies use bad faith lawsuits to try and kill a weak and new competitor that just entered the market.

As for us, game makers, I don't think we have to worry about going to court honestly. Going to court takes time and a lot of money, and unless there's a certain amount of money involved, people don't really to trial. It would be silly to go trial, win 100$, but have to pay 1000$ (legal fees are much higher than that usually lol).
 

Kupotepo

Fantasy realist
Veteran
Joined
Jul 5, 2017
Messages
959
Reaction score
900
First Language
Thai
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MushroomCake28, lol poor people meant small businesses. I agree poor people do not have money and natural resource rights. Yeah, a cooperation do not just sue for fun, it sues to weaken a competitor.

Advisement: if you do not know where to get help, you came to this place.

We needs an tax account, an politcal consultant, an marketing adviser, and an business, and a doctor. This website might be Jack of all trade website.
 

MushroomCake28

KAMO Studio
Global Mod
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
2,976
Reaction score
3,985
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@Kupotepo Lol. Although I don't know what we could do with a political consultant? Take over the world?
 

Kupotepo

Fantasy realist
Veteran
Joined
Jul 5, 2017
Messages
959
Reaction score
900
First Language
Thai
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MushroomCake28, advertising for an election campaign and being annoy to other people with surveys. I should make a survey who here are running for an office despite local or national lol. I would be surprised.
 

VitaliaDi

Jedi Master
Veteran
Joined
Mar 11, 2019
Messages
160
Reaction score
133
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MushroomCake28

I know rips aren't allowed on this forum but I have a few questions about using them for a fan game.

1. If I credit the original artists is it okay or do I need express permission to use it without getting in trouble? I know it can be a gray area and depends on how popular your game becomes and how much attention it attracts for you to actually get into trouble.

2. I have a game planned and I've made my own sprites in the game style so I think that one would count as fanart and would be mostly fine. But would I need to edit all of the tilesets above resizing them to avoid a lawsuit, even if the game is non-commercial?

3. If I've edited the sheets will I be able to post my game on here? I assumed I'd avoid posting it on these forums because of the rip rules which I assume are to avoid legal issues.
 

MushroomCake28

KAMO Studio
Global Mod
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
2,976
Reaction score
3,985
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@MushroomCake28
I know rips aren't allowed on this forum but I have a few questions about using them for a fan game.
So just to start things off, rips aren't legal by definition. A Rip is taking a resource from a project that doesn't want to share its resources for other projects, so by definition it is violating intellectual property. No matter who you credit or what you do, unless you were given explicit permission from the holder of the intellectual property of those resources, using rip is illegal, thus why this forum bans rips (and discussions about them too btw).

1. If I credit the original artists is it okay or do I need express permission to use it without getting in trouble? I know it can be a gray area and depends on how popular your game becomes and how much attention it attracts for you to actually get into trouble.
Rips = can't use.

If you're talking about other third party resources, then you need to refer to their terms. If they say anyone can use their resources if they get credits, then you don't need their direct permission (meaning no need to contact them). Otherwise, you'll need their direct permission. Simply crediting the artist only works if the artist's terms allow such a thing.

Also, there's a difference between legal/illegal and getting in trouble. Just because you've used illegal someone else's resources doesn't mean the police is going to take you in. Intellectual property is passive right, meaning the holder of a right must actively come forward to enforce his/her right: in other words, the one who holds the intellectual property over the resource you're using illegally must sue you. If you're game has like only 100 downloads, chances are that the artist won't even know. However, that still makes it illegal. As a someone in the law field, I have to strongly suggest not doing it, even if you won't get in trouble, since it's illegal.

2. I have a game planned and I've made my own sprites in the game style so I think that one would count as fanart and would be mostly fine. But would I need to edit all of the tilesets above resizing them to avoid a lawsuit, even if the game is non-commercial?
So one thing at the time. I'll start with fan-art. If you made your own sprites that were inspired on something else, you're fine. As long as you don't copy, everything that you create is owned by you. Now the line is thin and gray between copy and inspired, but that's a factual question and not a legal one. Meaning that if you ever get sued, it's the judge that is going to determine if it's a copy or it's inspired.

Now about the non-commercial aspect of a project, it doesn't change anything when it comes to intellectual property. If you've violated someone's copyright, no matter if you're project is commercial or not, it's illegal. The only difference is when it comes to the damages: if your project made money, the holder of the copyright can claim all your revenues. In both situation (commercial and non-commercial), the holder of the copyright can ask the judge to shut down your project though.

About editing, I'm not sure what tileset you're talking about. But let me say this: editing a rip doesn't change the fact that it's a rip, and therefore illegal.

3. If I've edited the sheets will I be able to post my game on here? I assumed I'd avoid posting it on these forums because of the rip rules which I assume are to avoid legal issues.
See the above point: editing a rip does not make it a non-rip. It is therefore still illegal, and banned from this forum.
 

VitaliaDi

Jedi Master
Veteran
Joined
Mar 11, 2019
Messages
160
Reaction score
133
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
So one thing at the time. I'll start with fan-art. If you made your own sprites that were inspired on something else, you're fine. As long as you don't copy, everything that you create is owned by you. Now the line is thin and gray between copy and inspired, but that's a factual question and not a legal one. Meaning that if you ever get sued, it's the judge that is going to determine if it's a copy or it's inspired.
If I'm making a fan game and use references to canon character with their name and also canon place names is this illegal? Like, does "inspired" mean that my game will have to look like a knock-off rather than a fan-game? With my game being completely free
 
Last edited:

MushroomCake28

KAMO Studio
Global Mod
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
2,976
Reaction score
3,985
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@VitaliaDi Like I said, that is more a factual question rather than a legal. Legally, inspired is allowed and copy isn't, but there's isn't a universal rule to separate both. It's a case by case analysis. My best advice would simply to try to differentiate from the original a bit. Also, chances are you are not going to get sued, especially over fan-art.
 

GLM

ブラッドシェド © 1989 POLOCOM
Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2016
Messages
28
Reaction score
15
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Thanks for the information.

I'm using custom.. everything for my project and was wondering if I should copyright the whole thing just to be safe since it (ideally) shouldn't really be apparent it was made with MV. How big should a project be before you would recommend doing so?

(I'm not trying to disparage RPG Maker or anything, but I'm mostly using it as a way to program without needing too much outside help.)
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Latest Threads

Latest Profile Posts

I'm getting close to releasing a demo. Working on formatting my Games in Development post.
I always see a few people asking for C# in next engine and I always thought: Do I not know enough about that language to tell it will affect extensibility and customizability to the negative? Watching a video from SumRndmDde today I feel confirmed.
If you had some musical requests in line with me.. feel free to re post! Corona has killed me and have recently got my internet back <3
I'm now working on procedural generated World Maps for my own project.
Is there anyone who's interested in having this Plugin for his own game?
I have a dream where RMer are not blinded and too dependant on published script / plugins...

Forum statistics

Threads
98,217
Messages
950,424
Members
129,514
Latest member
bobarooo2
Top