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Non for profit Fan Creations: Legal feasibility.

NitthNitth AustraliaMember Posts: 3,903 Uncommon


So, Just a thought i had the other day, what is the legal standing for non for profit projects based on an IP?

We have seen instances where individuals or groups have created game modifications or total conversions for games which depict other IPs, Most recently i saw Stargate Invasion for Sins of a Solar Empire.

For the most part, these seem free from copyright infringement because they are non for profit.

If we take this a step further, if a First party engine were to be used and Assets created (not converted) from another IP what would the legal implications be of this assuming it was non for profit community driven?

Lets say for example, Fallout based in a new engine, or Doom converted to modern 3D?

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Comments

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member Posts: 16,735 Epic

    If you're making a game based on some IP that you don't own, and it competes with a real or potential commercial game that is sanctioned by the owner of the IP, that's not likely to be kosher.  Giving your game away for free doesn't change that; software piracy is illegal even though the pirates give it away for free.

    If you get the permission of whoever owns the IP, then you can do whatever he says you can do, of course.  Brief references to someone else's IP can qualify as fair use, but if your entire game is based on that IP, that's not just a brief reference.

    Really, though, just make your own IP and you can do whatever you want.  Even if you think that a potential use of someone else's IP has a decent chance of being declared fair use, it's not worth the litigation fees.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAMember Posts: 14,247 Rare

    I'd tell the team to follow their heart and do what they please, because if they are that completely uncreative and that ignorant of the laws surrounding the project they are about to begin then the most liekly scenario is that they'll never get anywhere further than plugging some assets into an engine. After that, it's about four or five years of blaming every engine they try and then complete abandonment of the project. IMO, they should run with their idea. It's not like they'll actually create anything anyway.

     

    EDIT: There are those that will see this post as negative and there are those that know history.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
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  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAMember Posts: 5,178 Rare

    It varies from nation to nation, but in the US, you can create deriviatives of copyrighted material under the Fair Use doctrine, but it has to meet very specific criteria in order to avoid outright copyright infringement.


    Fanfiction is not infringing if it constitutes fair use of the underlying copyrighted work. In determining whether a particular use constitutes fair use, courts consider the following four factors:

    *the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    *the nature of the copyrighted work;*the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and*the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."[9]
  • VrikaVrika FinlandMember Posts: 3,450 Rare

    Re-creating a whole game is always a copyright infringement.

    Taking parts of existing IP (like total conversion mods do), and then using them with something else (like mechanics of Sins of Solar Empire) is in the shady area about how much you can borrow, and under what conditions.

    But under no conditions you are allowed to borrow a complete copyrighted work. Re-creating a whole game is always a copyright infringement.

  • anemoanemo Member Posts: 998 Uncommon

    The legal ground is messier than you think.   For instance the original D&D versions have been recreated several times, with art/names/locations stripped from the "new" rules book.   The fans even ended up winning the case when it was brought to court due to tables not being eligible for IP protections.   

    To be honest though my opinion is:  "If you have to ask on a forum, you can't do it".   Essentially you kinda sorta know enough about IP laws that you know you shouldn't, more importantly you certainly don't know enough to defend yourself, and lastly if you're asking on a forum for legal help you don't have the finacial resources to defend yourself.

    Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

    "At one point technology meant making tech that could get to the moon, now it means making tech that could get you a taxi."

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member Posts: 16,735 Epic
    Originally posted by anemo
    The legal ground is messier than you think.   For instance the original D&D versions have been recreated several times, with art/names/locations stripped from the "new" rules book.   The fans even ended up winning the case when it was brought to court due to tables not being eligible for IP protections. 

    Was that exactly the same tables, or just kind of similar?  You can make a game that is obviously inspired by another IP, but if you're copying the game mechanics exactly, I'd be surprised if that's allowed.  Of course, if you're copying the game mechanics exactly, then you're also a terrible game designer, as you should at minimum see a lot of little tweaks that you want to make as you go along.

  • anemoanemo Member Posts: 998 Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by anemo
    The legal ground is messier than you think.   For instance the original D&D versions have been recreated several times, with art/names/locations stripped from the "new" rules book.   The fans even ended up winning the case when it was brought to court due to tables not being eligible for IP protections. 

    Was that exactly the same tables, or just kind of similar?  You can make a game that is obviously inspired by another IP, but if you're copying the game mechanics exactly, I'd be surprised if that's allowed.  Of course, if you're copying the game mechanics exactly, then you're also a terrible game designer, as you should at minimum see a lot of little tweaks that you want to make as you go along.

    If you can copy mechanics exactly you're going to be a pretty decent designer, and a brilliant producer.

    A lot of game mechanics are changed based on what the engine that gets produced is capable of.   So if you can get out with the exact replica of someone else's work your sheer ability at directing a team and not hitting pit falls is going to be pretty amazing.   The fact that you can hit your target even with pitfalls you do have to fall into again pretty amazing.

    Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

    "At one point technology meant making tech that could get to the moon, now it means making tech that could get you a taxi."

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