Copyright of screenshots of old games.

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Post » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:14 pm

Obviously I'm aware that you're not supposed to distribute code or even copy the gameplay from another game, but does anybody know if it's legal to put a screenshot of an old game inside your game? I don't suppose the age of the game matters unless they've released the rights to the game. So would you, for example, be able to put a screenshot of Call of Duty in your game, talk about Call of Duty etc etc? So long as you're not actually putting their gameplay or copying their gameplay, is it ok?

I'm thinking it's probably not, but on the other hand, reviews for example have dozens of screenshots and I'm fairly sure it's legal to take your own screenshots of a game and then post it on the internet.

I suppose in the same way, is it legal to put something like a poster in your game? Could you stick a big Star Wars poster on a building wall in your game?
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Post » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:45 pm

After some Googling, I found a nice article that may be able to help you out: Ask the Law Geek: Is publishing screenshots Fair Use?
Basically, you are talking about "Fair Use." What you want to consider is how/where/why you are using the content.

If you were to, say, place a "poster" that used copywritten Star Wars content, I would say no. But then again, if this poster itself is something you have created (or are licensed to use), then you may be able to get away with it.
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Post » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:00 pm

Thanks, I'd read a few pages but not that one. It's a bit of a cloudy issue and I can see why.

I can definitely see that putting an actual official poster of something such as Star Wars might be infringement, but on the other hand, unless you're somehow knocking the content, I would've thought it would just be free advertising for them? I suppose that's not the point, because using Darth Vader as your main game character might also be seen as free advertising but I doubt they'd see it that way.

Bearing in mind I'm only really thinking of putting up some old ZX Spectrum screenshots, I can't imagine it being a major issue, but I know that some of the old Speccy companies refused to allow the games themselves to be posted for emulators, so it's a strange one.
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