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Offline K.I.L.E.R

Senior Devvie




Java games rock!


« Posted 2006-11-20 10:30:20 »

My assignment is the recreation of Arcomage.
Obviously I cannot release it due to the fact it's recreation of an existing game and I'm using the artwork from the game.
I know nothing about copyrights other than if you suspect you are copying an idea, never distribute it or you will face severe jail time.

How would I go about getting permission to distribute the artwork and the idea?
Who actually owns the rights to Arcomage? Ubisoft or the former 3DO employees?

Vorax:
Is there a name for a "redneck" programmer?

Jeff:
Unemployed. Wink
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #1 - Posted 2006-11-20 12:41:41 »

My assignment is the recreation of Arcomage.
Obviously I cannot release it due to the fact it's recreation of an existing game and I'm using the artwork from the game.
I know nothing about copyrights other than if you suspect you are copying an idea, never distribute it or you will face severe jail time.

IMHO, never use the artwork from another game. That is hugely illegal (really easy to prosecute) and the easiest way of getting sued. Ditto with the name - although ripping off the art is worse than stealing the name.

Many people do it for "hobby" projects, but its still illegal and depending upon the copyright holder you can and occasionally actually WILL get sued for it. The chance of it happening is very low indeed, which leads some people into thikning it never happens.

Quote
How would I go about getting permission to distribute the artwork and the idea?

Generally, you'll never get permission to distribute artwork - you may if you're lucky/persuasive get permission to license or (occasionally) buy the artwork off the copyright owner.

Quote
Who actually owns the rights to Arcomage? Ubisoft or the former 3DO employees?

IIRC 3DO's assets (mostly the ownership of the IP in the different games) were sold to many different companies at auction, so you'd have to look up the auction records to be sure. I don't know whether concrete assets (art, sounds, source code) for the whole back catalogue were also sold - it would probably depend upone whether they still had copies of them in the office.

Seeing as the game appears to still be for sale and active online, I'd suggest your best bet would be to make a clone with new graphics and a new name.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline Markus_Persson

JGO Wizard


Medals: 16
Projects: 19


Mojang Specifications


« Reply #2 - Posted 2006-11-20 17:39:16 »

My assignment is the recreation of Arcomage.
Obviously I cannot release it due to the fact it's recreation of an existing game and I'm using the artwork from the game.
I know nothing about copyrights other than if you suspect you are copying an idea, never distribute it or you will face severe jail time.

IMHO, never use the artwork from another game. That is hugely illegal (really easy to prosecute) and the easiest way of getting sued. Ditto with the name - although ripping off the art is worse than stealing the name.

Names are not subject to copyright, so you can "steal" them as much as you want to. They can, however, (and usually are) be trademarked, so you end up not being able to use them anyway.

Trademarks require active protection, copyrights don't. So in theory, "stealing" a trademarked name is worse than "stealing" copyrighted art, as they have to react unless they want to risk losing their trademark.

Play Minecraft!
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 195
Projects: 24
Exp: 18 years


Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer


« Reply #3 - Posted 2006-11-20 17:46:24 »

Quote
Many people do it for "hobby" projects, but its still illegal and depending upon the copyright holder you can and occasionally actually WILL get sued for it. The chance of it happening is very low indeed, which leads some people into thikning it never happens.

Given how many "hobby" projects there are in the world using ripped off graphics, and how occassionally this happens - you'd probably want to be more worried about being hit by a falling aircraft toilet (great show) than getting hit for your hobby game that probably never goes past the stage of being passed around a few devs.

Kev

Offline fletchergames

Senior Devvie





« Reply #4 - Posted 2006-11-20 18:11:28 »

Given how many "hobby" projects there are in the world using ripped off graphics, and how occassionally this happens - you'd probably want to be more worried about being hit by a falling aircraft toilet (great show) than getting hit for your hobby game that probably never goes past the stage of being passed around a few devs.

Kev
You can't do anything much to avoid getting hit by a falling aircraft toilet, but you can avoid getting sued simply by not stealing copyrighted material.

People who make games should, at least, respect all the hard work and effort that other people put into making games and not steal their work.
Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 195
Projects: 24
Exp: 18 years


Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer


« Reply #5 - Posted 2006-11-20 18:13:39 »

Quote
People who make games should, at least, respect all the hard work and effort that other people put into making games and not steal their work.

Yes, you're absolutely right. Go's for ideas, gameplay and mechanic too I feel. Especially in hobby games.

Kev

Offline woogley
« Reply #6 - Posted 2006-11-20 18:17:51 »

People who make games should, at least, respect all the hard work and effort that other people put into making games and not steal their work.

if any of you have made a version of tetris, you're a thief and should go to prison for 25 years.

interestingly enough, i have never made tetris. but the rest of you are CRIMINALS!!
Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 195
Projects: 24
Exp: 18 years


Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer


« Reply #7 - Posted 2006-11-20 18:20:57 »

However, I wouldn't want to see any hobbiest discouraged from writing games for the sake of borrowing some graphics, ideas or anything from some old game.

Kev

Offline woogley
« Reply #8 - Posted 2006-11-20 18:22:53 »

look, nintendo and others have their big 3D enterprises now. even handhelds have entered major 3D (see PSP). the last thing these companies are worred about is 2D competition from unexperienced hobbyist developers. you're more likely to get hired by a company before they sue you. just ask Team17.
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #9 - Posted 2006-11-20 18:31:05 »

look, nintendo and others have their big 3D enterprises now. even handhelds have entered major 3D (see PSP). the last thing these companies are worred about is 2D competition from unexperienced hobbyist developers. you're more likely to get hired by a company before they sue you. just ask Team17.

Two words: Casual Games

One alleged fact (haven't seen figures to prove it, but heard it several times): Casual games are EA's most profitable business (by margins, obviously not by volume...yet).

Another fact: CG industry is predicted to bring in more than a billion dollars of revenue next year.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #10 - Posted 2006-11-20 18:33:18 »

IMHO, never use the artwork from another game. That is hugely illegal (really easy to prosecute) and the easiest way of getting sued. Ditto with the name - although ripping off the art is worse than stealing the name.

Names are not subject to copyright, so you can "steal" them as much as you want to. They can, however, (and usually are) be trademarked, so you end up not being able to use them anyway.

Trademarks require active protection, copyrights don't. So in theory, "stealing" a trademarked name is worse than "stealing" copyrighted art, as they have to react unless they want to risk losing their trademark.

Yep, but ... how many publishers don't trademark the names of their games? Although IIRC some names - like product names, for instance - its more of a murky ground anyway.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline woogley
« Reply #11 - Posted 2006-11-20 18:36:24 »

1) again, there is a modify button

2) again, you provide no proof

3) you are a primary resource for 'weasel words' ("I've heard it many times that...")

I'm still waiting to be sued. (also, excuse my avatar. it's technically illegal for you to view unauthorized usage of a trademarked product)
Offline Orangy Tang

JGO Kernel


Medals: 56
Projects: 11


Monkey for a head


« Reply #12 - Posted 2006-11-20 19:16:15 »

look, nintendo and others have their big 3D enterprises now. even handhelds have entered major 3D (see PSP). the last thing these companies are worred about is 2D competition from unexperienced hobbyist developers. you're more likely to get hired by a company before they sue you. just ask Team17.

Obviously you've not been following Grid Wars then.

[ TriangularPixels.com - Play Growth Spurt, Rescue Squad and Snowman Village ] [ Rebirth - game resource library ]
Offline woogley
« Reply #13 - Posted 2006-11-20 19:25:58 »

Obviously you've not been following Grid Wars then.

from the link you posted:

Quote
the developer's "starting to feel the effect", apparently, and has decided to "more robustly" protect copyright - by asking people nicely not to infringe upon it.

which further proves my point. the big companies will only bother to notice you when they "start feeling the effect" - i.e. you pose an actual threat to their enterprise. game developer hobbyists should continue on without worry of such things, as there is little to 0 chance of their game being sued in today's game market.

if you're actually experienced enough to make money off of your game and pose a threat to the big companies, then you should be smart enough not to use stolen artwork for your professional attention-gathering game.

edit: now that I think of it. BeetleMania, like Geometry Wars, is just a mini game inside a large commercial game. I would receive a cease-and-desist letter too, if they were still selling copies of the game. Grid Wars is a victim of bad timing, really. It should also be noted that Mark Incitti, creator of Grid Wars, was not sued.

so, worst case scenario. if you somehow posed a big enough threat to a big company, they will ask you to stop. if you comply, no harm no foul, and you walk away with the experience you wanted to gain in the first place. of course, SOME companies (perhaps backed by the RIAA Wink) would sue IMMEDIATELY, but again, you'd still have to be good enough to attract the attention.
Offline Orangy Tang

JGO Kernel


Medals: 56
Projects: 11


Monkey for a head


« Reply #14 - Posted 2006-11-20 20:30:54 »

Grid Wars is a victim of bad timing

Nah, the real problem was that it was a carbon-copy of the original game, with identical graphics and sound, near-identical gameplay and a misleadingly similar name. To the avarage person off the street the two are identical. With different graphics and/or some more substantial gameplay changes they'd have been fine.

[ TriangularPixels.com - Play Growth Spurt, Rescue Squad and Snowman Village ] [ Rebirth - game resource library ]
Offline woogley
« Reply #15 - Posted 2006-11-20 20:51:10 »

Nah, the real problem was that it was a carbon-copy of the original game, with identical graphics and sound, near-identical gameplay and a misleadingly similar name.

timing is still involved. BeetleMania is an exact replica (including the name) of nintendo's creation, but I doubt it will see any trouble (lack of popularity, and the fact that Nintendo does not have any revenue-based interest in it). had they waited for Microsoft's game to come to a halt, they might've been in the clear. who knows, maybe it was Grid Wars that "insprired" the second installment of  Geometry Wars in the first place.
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #16 - Posted 2006-11-21 00:49:58 »

1) again, there is a modify button

Wha?

Quote
2) again, you provide no proof

Woogley, Just F*cking Google It: http://gamasutra.com/features/20060706/dillon_01.shtml - first link that came up.

Honestly, I don't feel the need to google for you basic info that's so commonly known it actually appears on GS. If you don't believe me, there's no point in me talking to you in the first place.

Quote
3) you are a primary resource for 'weasel words' ("I've heard it many times that...")

Yep, but that's usually because it's either illegal (NDA's) or unfair (friends and ex-colleagues giving confidential info) for me to give the actual info I've been privy too - instead I'm forced to provide the public versions that are less detailed. I don't demand you believe me, but if you ask me to back up a point, that's all I can do, legally.

Frankly ... how many times does ChrisM post any opinions at all? My understanding is that he's often in a similar position, but I guess prefers not to provide too much ammo for people to make accusations like yours. I *try* to provide information, and offer suggestion and gentle info and rumour where I actually have access to hard facts because it's better than saying nothing and leaving you in the dark.

Cynicism is good, except where it's opinionated, which yours usually is I'm afraid.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 195
Projects: 24
Exp: 18 years


Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer


« Reply #17 - Posted 2006-11-21 00:58:21 »

Insults, attacks and all the jazz aside.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone steal graphics from casual games. I have however seen plenty of ideas, concepts and mechnics duplicated with a change of theme in the casual game areas. Haven't seen any legal cases with that side of things - does that come up alot?

Kev

Offline Orangy Tang

JGO Kernel


Medals: 56
Projects: 11


Monkey for a head


« Reply #18 - Posted 2006-11-21 01:14:52 »

I have however seen plenty of ideas, concepts and mechnics duplicated with a change of theme in the casual game areas. Haven't seen any legal cases with that side of things - does that come up alot?

The only big case I know of for that is Sega suing over Simpsons Road Rage being a blatent gameplay ripoff of Crazy Taxi (I think they were claiming that the "look and feel" was too similar). Annoyingly however I can't actually find out what the result of it was. Sad

[ TriangularPixels.com - Play Growth Spurt, Rescue Squad and Snowman Village ] [ Rebirth - game resource library ]
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #19 - Posted 2006-11-21 01:17:20 »

I don't think I've ever seen anyone steal graphics from casual games.

For games written in 2004 onwards specifically as "casual games" there have certainly been quite a few cases of it - have a look back through the archives of the IGDA's casual games SIG for some discussions and citations on some past ones.

However, my point was that the back-catalogues of games are considered by publishers as a massive asset of theirs, and are mostly ripe for the picking as casual games. I can guarantee that many if not most publishers are working hard on converting their catalogues to modern casual games in order to start making lots of mahola out of them. It's something of a no-brainer.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 195
Projects: 24
Exp: 18 years


Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer


« Reply #20 - Posted 2006-11-21 01:30:58 »

Yeah, I kinda think cloning a game completely and rolling it out as your puts you in a place where you might get asked to stop (though I doubt it would end up in sueing since the company would get pretty bad press for sueing some hobbiest who essentially is part of their target audience).

I do know for a fact though that at least a few games company don't have huge issues with your using their older games resources (sprites etc) to build different types of games. Team 17 mentioned before would be a good example of thins type of thing - they've actually in the past been very positive about indie games of this type. As you say, the companies themselfs might well be rebuilding old game concepts into new casual games which makes good business sense - but with their evident artistic resources and the improvement in technology I'd expect them generally to create new art/sound/music for their new version.

Nintendo would be the biggest rip I think - a lot of hobby developers "borrow" some sprites from then now and again. How many zelda graphics based RPGs have I seen! I'm not sure I've ever heard of the big N even questioning it - let alone sending a cease letter - let alone sueing.

Whether it's morally right to do it or not - entrirely different matter and enitrely subjective.

Offline Markus_Persson

JGO Wizard


Medals: 16
Projects: 19


Mojang Specifications


« Reply #21 - Posted 2006-11-21 09:13:39 »

if any of you have made a version of tetris, you're a thief and should go to prison for 25 years.

interestingly enough, i have never made tetris. but the rest of you are CRIMINALS!!

Fortunately, you can't own game ideas. =)
(At least not in the EU, and I hope it stays that way)

Play Minecraft!
Offline woogley
« Reply #22 - Posted 2006-11-21 11:50:35 »

Quote from: Markus_Persson link=topic=15360.msg122406#msg122406
Fortunately, you can't own game ideas. =)
(At least not in the EU, and I hope it stays that way)

if anyone would try, it would be Microsoft Tongue
Offline Markus_Persson

JGO Wizard


Medals: 16
Projects: 19


Mojang Specifications


« Reply #23 - Posted 2006-11-21 14:33:10 »

huh?

Play Minecraft!
Offline fletchergames

Senior Devvie





« Reply #24 - Posted 2006-11-21 18:19:01 »

People who make games should, at least, respect all the hard work and effort that other people put into making games and not steal their work.

if any of you have made a version of tetris, you're a thief and should go to prison for 25 years.

interestingly enough, i have never made tetris. but the rest of you are CRIMINALS!!
Although, I've never actually made a version of Tetris either, I don't have a problem with that.  Being inspired by a game to make a similar one isn't a problem to me, but actually using someone else's resources without permission is bad.

If I were to make a game like Tetris, I would make it similar to Tetris but not identical.  Otherwise, what's the point?
Offline ChrisM

JGO Coder


Medals: 3
Projects: 1
Exp: 14 years


Luke...END OF LINE


« Reply #25 - Posted 2006-11-21 19:02:45 »

So, I will offer an opinion here.  But Blah*3 is right, a lot of times you (if you have NDA's and what not in place) can only speak in the most general of terms when trying to discuss proof points.  Doubly so for a publically traded company.  Ok, so the opinion.

I think what Woogley is getting at is the silliness of a large company suing over an amature game if the programmer uses said company's assets for personal use.  No money is exchanging hands, and no one is profiting from it, so where is the harm?  This is the same exact reasoning that is used in the emulation community, the music trading communities, etc.  While you can rationalize it all you want, and I agree that assets used in most "community" settings should flatter companies rather than provoke them, using assets in a manner the author did not intend, without their permission, is at the very least a copyright violation.  The same sort of thing goes for sites that publish the lyrics to songs and tabs for guitar players. Copyright violation is an actionable offense in the US.  Just because someone has not sued you over it yet doesn't mean they can't or won't.

Again, try to rationalize it all you want, it's still illegal in the US and all of the complaining and posturing about it won't change that fact. Period.

As for gameplay, you can't hold a copyright on game theory, mechanics, etc.  You can, however, hold rights to presentation, art, music, and even patents on gameplay within a particular environment.  The Crazy Taxi vs. Simpsons Road Rage would not have been possible if not for the US patent that Sega was awarded covering driving games with training and assist modes
 (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6652376.PN.&OS=PN/6652376&RS=PN/6652376)

At the same time, id Software is not dragging Bungie into court over the space marine shooter.  Why?  Again, you can't own a concept, just the particular application of said concept.

As for copying things like Tetris, that game was inspired by a game called Pentomino (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentomino), so further variations on the gameplay would be extremely difficult to sue for.  The only thing that was ever sued over in the infamous Tetris battles of the early 90's was the licensed version of the game called "Tetris".

-Chris

Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #26 - Posted 2006-11-26 04:48:39 »

Just noticed, in passnig (lookijng at something else), that Tom Sloper has a FAQ on this:

http://www.sloperama.com/advice/faq61.htm

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline thijs

Junior Devvie




Lava games rock!


« Reply #27 - Posted 2006-11-26 10:32:59 »

Quote
As for copying things like Tetris, that game was inspired by a game called Pentomino (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentomino), so further variations on the gameplay would be extremely difficult to sue for.  The only thing that was ever sued over in the infamous Tetris battles of the early 90's was the licensed version of the game called "Tetris".

The Tetris company has been known for threatning many indie developers in the past, even ones that didnt offer it for money but just as hobby projects :
http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?t=7513&highlight=lawsuit
http://www.abednarz.net/tetris.html

It never came to a court trial though. Luckily Sega lost the simpsons road rage case, as it would have set an example for other big publishers to take action.

Also there was an interesting article on gamasutra not so long ago:
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20061024/andersen_01.shtml

<a href="http://www.dzzd.net">3DzzD!</a>
<a href="http://www.arcazoid.com">Arcazoid!</a>
Offline ChrisM

JGO Coder


Medals: 3
Projects: 1
Exp: 14 years


Luke...END OF LINE


« Reply #28 - Posted 2006-11-27 13:04:55 »

Quote
As for copying things like Tetris, that game was inspired by a game called Pentomino (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentomino), so further variations on the gameplay would be extremely difficult to sue for.  The only thing that was ever sued over in the infamous Tetris battles of the early 90's was the licensed version of the game called "Tetris".

The Tetris company has been known for threatning many indie developers in the past, even ones that didnt offer it for money but just as hobby projects :
http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?t=7513&highlight=lawsuit
http://www.abednarz.net/tetris.html

Right, I should have said that the only lawsuits, AFAIK, that have ever been won have been around the original licensing.  As well, the thread on Indiegamer discusses being sued over copyright of the name, not the mechanics.

-Chris

Offline erikd

JGO Ninja


Medals: 16
Projects: 4
Exp: 14 years


Maximumisness


« Reply #29 - Posted 2006-11-27 15:53:37 »

I seem to remember that Magnavox/Philips were sued by Atari over their Pac-Man clone called "K.C. Munchkin" and Magnavox/Philips were eventually ordered to stop selling it (which they did). This was purely because Atari felt it was too close to Pac-Man, even though K.C. Munchkin differed in quite a lot of important points from the original Pac Man.

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