Permissions for game making

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Post » Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:36 pm

Ashley has it for the most part spot on.

I'll also start with the disclaimer that I'm no lawyer, but as a semi-professional original musician I've had to do a lot of studying up on copyright law in order to better protect myself.

So, first off, to clear up a few misconceptions about U.S. Copyright Law:

* If the character itself is someone else's creation, you need a license given by the copyright holder to use the character (in most famous characters' cases, it is a company, often cold and heartless ).

* Non-profit does not equal fair use. Copyright is what you'd call "as advertised". It means that only the copyright holder has permissions to control how their creation is copied, in any way, shape or form. They can issue licenses to third parties, for a fee or for free, but they still get to control who gets those licenses, with a couple exceptions.

* The exception, in the case of music, is a compulsory license. That, however, is not applicable to your case, as that deals only with covering songs, not for doing things like compilation albums, which needs a different licensing deal. You'd need to obtain a different license to use someone else's characters.

* Fair Use laws come into play when dealing with commentary and parody, or for educational use (though educational use is more meant for examples to teach classes, does not actually qualify for fan games). It has nothing to do with percentages or an infringer's economic profit. A copyright holder could sue you for dilution of brand if they'd like (I make a god awful Mario game that could give people who don't know Mario a bad impression of the plucky plumber, which would hurt future Nintendo sales), or if an infringer's product obtains the specific demand the copyright holder's product or potential products would have held (if I made a free Mario game that was better than Nintendo's $50 Mario game and people substituted Nintendo's game with mine instead, that equals lost earnings for Nintendo).

Some companies don't mind people using their sprites and characters in free fan games. Capcom is famous for unofficially supporting it. Others, like Nintendo, often turn a blind eye to it, unless it could potentially compete with their own products, in which case they almost always just send a cease and desist. There are just so many people out there, and sending a cease and desist to them all would be a waste of time. You still risk a lawsuit of course. That's their right.

I'm sorry if that's a lot to digest, but copyright law is a complicated affair that's meant to protect everyone from all sorts of scenarios.

Short version:
Are you allowed to, by law? For the purposes of your fan game, not without a license from the copyright holder. You can decide for yourself whether or not you feel your use would be ethical and if the risk of you being taken to court is worth it.TL222011-10-27 22:39:10
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Post » Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:20 am

If I may say !

Fan games = Free advertising for a company ! and there is nothing better than that especially in a game made by an independant it goes directly to your brain without thinking it's an ad.

Till you don't make money and specify it's not yours and don't destroy the image of the brand /character(real fan games)

Then unless you are making a game played in top Facebook am not sure they will care about you.

The first to hear from copyright infringement will be the distribution platform ( they make money with your games through ads). If you don't make your own website and don't host it and don't put your family name on it am not sure they will spend times to look after you.

Seriously they will need to get the IP from the distribution platform and then ask the ISP ... They will just warn the distribution platform at max !

Here it's just to explain why fan games makers are not yet in jail ...

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Post » Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:46 pm

[QUOTE=Ketoulou]Fan games = Free advertising for a company ![/QUOTE]
Some companies might take this view, but others could argue it affects their branding, confuses users, or makes them look bad if you can't make a game which is as good quality as a team of professionals working full-time.
Scirra Founder
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Post » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:19 pm

I found a great example for a game with known characters:

it's called blip and blop and it's contain smurfs, pokemon and more.
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Post » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:36 pm

[QUOTE=Cobra5000] I found a great example for a game with known characters:

it's called blip and blop and it's contain smurfs, pokemon and more.[/QUOTE]

Yes, but like others have already said and to put it simply: if you want to take the risk, go for it. There are a lot of fan-made games on the net and many of them were created without the consent of their owners, but this doesn't mean it's legal and this doesn't mean the owner may turn a blind eye. TL22 has especially nailed it on the bulls eye.

I think this thread and all its answers have pretty much covered the original question. Now it comes down to what you will do regardless of who tells you what.ginsengsamurai2011-11-01 17:37:41
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Post » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:19 pm

They need to know, you doing that. Non-commercial games can be illegal too.
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Post » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:34 pm

Most of the previous posters are right. I have read up a bit into copyright law and it is lot more strict than many people think, mostly because everyone breaks it.

Basically, you cannot do it legally. If you do it, there is a large chance that you will get away with it 100%, unless your game becomes very popular.

If you ask permission, you probably will not get it, as Ashley has said.

It's your decision. It's likely that nobody is going to stop you if you choose the illegal route, but it is illegal, even if your game is free.

I would suggest that you make your own graphics, or use free sprite packs.

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Post » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:16 pm

It really depends on the company.

Valve has a very friendly relationship with indie developers and their fan games. When Portal came out, there was this awesome 2d version of the game made in flash - and they let the dev publish it, without problems (the game was free). Also an iPhone game called Wormholes was released not long ago, and Valve contacted the developer and "(...) has requested I make this application free due to its close resemblance to their PC and console versions of Portal".

On the other hand, you have the whole Bethesda vs. Mojang over a single word of their branded name being used.

I guess the point is: Don't try to make money out of another person's intellectual property and you'll probably be ok, but keep in mind that what you're doing can be put down at anytime.
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Post » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:50 pm

Man, it's I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E to contact then and have their permission, the games you see on newgrounds doesn't have the permission to use it, but the truth is, they can't do nothing to harm you, the only thing that they will do is send an e-mail that says "cease and desist", than you stop the production and nothing happens...

The chance you have to recieve an email like that is 0,001%, i know only 1 game that recieved an e-mail like that, and it was the chronno trigger Resurrection and if you see it you will understand why:

So, you will not recieve any money from the game and you will not harm anyone, so whats the problem?

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