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  Law question  (Read 5773 times)
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Offline span123

Senior Newbie





« Posted 2012-08-28 01:05:55 »

Hey,
I am currently thinking of starting to make a game. For the start I thought about programming some pokemon multiplayer game, which is like pokemon but just multiplayer.
I am just afraid of some issues with nintendo when I finished it and let people connect to the server and play it. Do you think its illegal to do that? And do you think nintendo will even care about that? Well for example there are tons of free servers out there for every kind of game and it seems they dont get any law problems from the original creators.
Please enlighten me
Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel


Medals: 201



« Reply #1 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:09:33 »

Don't infringe on any of Nintendo's trademarks and you're fine.  Game rules are not copyrightable.
Offline span123

Senior Newbie





« Reply #2 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:10:46 »

but their content, isn't it?
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline 8Keep

Senior Newbie


Medals: 1



« Reply #3 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:12:00 »

I think as long as you write all the code yourself and make your own sounds, textures and data, and dont use any names they made up, you will be fine.
Offline jonjava
« Reply #4 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:14:04 »

Well you won't be able to sell it. But don't worry about it. People make clones all the time. clones are awesome! Go for it!

If Nintendo ever sends you an email of any kind you should be proud of yourself!

Offline span123

Senior Newbie





« Reply #5 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:15:37 »

well yeah if they sue me for 5k euros  Grin
Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel


Medals: 201



« Reply #6 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:19:03 »

Like I said, don't infringe their trademarks and you're all clear.  This includes "Pokemon", "Pocket Monsters", or any highly similar names, as well as the names or pictures of any Pokemon characters.  The rules you can clone as much as you want.
Offline span123

Senior Newbie





« Reply #7 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:21:31 »

well then this idea seems to die because I think I am not that creative to create my own monsters xD
there still could be a blue pikachu^^
Offline Cero
« Reply #8 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:24:47 »

I visited StabYourself's booth at GamesCom 2 weeks ago and just goes to show you that you can get away with a lot if you dont sell it

but ideally, make your own assets

Offline jonjava
« Reply #9 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:30:30 »

If you don't intend on selling it nobody will care. You think mario clones make their on graphics?

Making a pokemon game is difficult and a great learning experience. Let alone making it online. Take http://pokemon-online.eu/ for example. They use pkmn graphics within the game and nobody cares.

Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline span123

Senior Newbie





« Reply #10 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:33:48 »

I am not going to sell it or make some big money with it^^
I will just put up some website, and let people play on the server. Maybe add some donation for people that like it and want to support it, but still giving them nothing in exchange, everything is only voluntary
Offline ctomni231

JGO Wizard


Medals: 98
Projects: 1
Exp: 7 years


Not a glitch. Just have a lil' pixelexia...


« Reply #11 - Posted 2012-08-28 01:51:15 »

Yeah, I can't say that is entirely true. If you go around creating things without developer's permission it could end up landing you into big trouble. I know for a fact that Nintendo, Blizzard, and Disney are pretty strict with using their content. I have also heard some cases in where Sega has stamped down on copyright infringement.

http://www.destructoid.com/sega-has-streets-of-rage-remake-pulled-from-the-net-198671.phtml
http://www.destructoid.com/sega-responds-to-streets-of-rage-remake-pull-198723.phtml
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/99678-Nintendo-Kills-Fan-Developed-Pokemon-MMOG

Definitely, don't try and pull any money if you are dabbing in this. Don't try and sell, and don't look for "donations". Even though it is rare when they do it, you don't want to be the next victim.

It is great for learning experience and getting great ideas. Also, you can probably use the code to create a nice spin-off. Great for learning purposes, but stay away from trying to get any funds period.

Offline Cero
« Reply #12 - Posted 2012-08-28 02:55:25 »

normally, this is very depend on case and country, if you dont take any money and they still want you to stop, they would send you a cease & desist note and not fine you any money - but it has happened

Offline ReBirth
« Reply #13 - Posted 2012-08-28 03:29:01 »

If you just want the gameplay/mechanism, clone it. Clone it like there's no tomorrow!

However you need to use different sprites, sounds, and "words" (no pokeball, pokemon, pikachu, etc)

Offline jonjava
« Reply #14 - Posted 2012-08-28 06:27:38 »

Nobody will care. Use their graphics. That's why there are sites like http://spriters-resource.com/ and http://tsgk.captainn.net/ so that you can make your won fan games.

There are thousands of fan games and clones using ripped sprites.

Offline gouessej
« Reply #15 - Posted 2012-08-28 08:09:02 »

If you don't intend on selling it nobody will care.
It's not completely true. An artist who worked with me a few days used a model looking like the typical alien, Sega sent me a message on my former blog, one of its employees demanded me to remove it from my game whereas TUER is completely free of charge and open source. Yes some game programmers infringing copyrights have never been sued but if I were you, I would rather use graphics under free licenses and I would respect the right of paternity. Don't try to use famous contents on which you have no right. I'm not a big fan of copyrights but I'm not a big fan of people who just want to reuse existing contents without respecting the conditions set by their authors. For example, I really hate people trying to reuse my "creations" under CC BY-NC-SA or CC BY-NC-ND on commercial websites with tons of ads.

Offline delt0r

JGO Knight


Medals: 26
Exp: 18 years


Computers can do that?


« Reply #16 - Posted 2012-08-28 10:11:27 »

Note that in order to not infringe on copyright... you can't have anything in the same "likeness". ie you can't just give something a different name, but the art is still recognizable as one of the original characters... Furthermore they have probably trademarked the characters as well. 

As for the not selling... you are still infringing and they can sue and win and it can still cost you a lot.

YMMV depending on how popular it is. However typically if its not commercial  you get a cease and desist letter first. If you comply with that, it won't cost you anything but your pride. 

Edit: added the not.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.--Albert Einstein
Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 39
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #17 - Posted 2012-08-28 10:32:24 »

I'm in the same situation, sort of. My game project is based off of DooM. I'm making all art assets, and the style is very different from the original game (It's a top-down adventure/shooter closer in style to the classic Zelda games)... But still the characters are the same (Chibi-Cyberdemon is still a Cyberdemon)

As has been said, the ip owners can shut you down if they want to, so you'd better plan ahead.

In my case, I'm using DooM simply because I want to work on the game mechanics without spending too much effort designing original sprites, characters or a setting (And because I *love* the DooM games and setting), but I'm fully prepared to remove all DooM references and do my own thing, while keeping the game core intact (In fact that's the long term plan).

If you really want to make the game, go ahead, but know that it could get a C&D letter at any time. If that's fine with you, then have fun!

Offline span123

Senior Newbie





« Reply #18 - Posted 2012-08-28 12:36:06 »

a letter would be no problem I guess
Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 39
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #19 - Posted 2012-08-28 12:55:21 »

Oh, and to be safe (And not anger the lawyers if they ever come across your game) make sure to make it abundantly clear that you are not challenging their IP ownership in any way, by adding a "Characters (c) Nintendo" disclaimer, or even stating "This is a fan game, no challenge to the ownership of the IP is intended or implied".

Might seem silly and unecessary, but everyone does it for a reason.


Something I'd like to ask, though... Regarding my DooM-Based game... I actually went ahead an wrote to ZeniMax/IdSoftware about it. Not that I expect a reply (I doubt it'd be in a publisher's best interest to publicly support such a project), but I'm wondering if stepping up and telling them what I'm doing was a good idea, or if I've just drawn attention to my project that will guarantee I get a C&D letter.  Clueless


Offline princec

JGO Kernel


Medals: 342
Projects: 3
Exp: 16 years


Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #20 - Posted 2012-08-28 13:48:49 »

It's bethesda you need to be talking to, and they are extremely and probably wisely aggressive at protecting trademarks.

Cas Smiley

Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 39
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #21 - Posted 2012-08-28 17:18:20 »

I went straight to Id Software's site, and the contact links eventually took me to ZeniMax's contact form.

In any case, since the whole project is a learning experience for me, it isn't out of line to learn how big publishers react to these situations  Grin

Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel


Medals: 201



« Reply #22 - Posted 2012-08-28 18:05:38 »

Unfortunately, it probably does increase the chances of you getting a C&D, since if their lawyers are made aware of potential infringement, they have to pursue it, otherwise they've essentially waived any claim against you.  Legally speaking, an email off a contact form likely doesn't constitute real notification, certified mail does, but it does look like good faith on your part.

Still, unlike the music industry, who sues mothers for putting up youtube videos of their kid singing along to pop songs, game publishers aren't usually total bastards: the worst that's likely to happen is that they send a DMCA takedown to your ISP who yanks your site offline.
Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 39
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #23 - Posted 2012-08-28 18:28:00 »

We'll see, I'd rather get C&Ded on this project now than on something more serious once I've actually invested money into setting up a domain/site/infrastructure.

I mean, it'd be a bother, but I can open a new DooM-free blogger page if need be  Smiley


Edit: It'd be neat if there was some sort of non-profit "fangame license" that publishers could issue that did not affect future copyright claims on their part, so they wouldn't need to systematically bash fan projects (and suffer the community backlash). Kind of like the fansite kits they sometimes provide.

On the other hand, I think this works a bit like unsolicited submissions, if they accept it, someone could accuse them of copyright infringement in the future if they end up developing something similar to the fangame.

Meh, I'd better stop, if I keep rolling this in my head I'll scrap all my DooM-ish sprites and get stcuk again in developing original ones.  Undecided

Offline gouessej
« Reply #24 - Posted 2012-08-28 19:59:30 »

Oh, and to be safe (And not anger the lawyers if they ever come across your game) make sure to make it abundantly clear that you are not challenging their IP ownership in any way, by adding a "Characters (c) Nintendo" disclaimer, or even stating "This is a fan game, no challenge to the ownership of the IP is intended or implied".

Might seem silly and unecessary, but everyone does it for a reason.
Ok but do it in a way that does not mean that you claim they allowed you to do this.

Offline jonjava
« Reply #25 - Posted 2012-08-28 21:46:54 »

You guys are blowing this way out proportion.

Here's a guy thinking about starting a game. An online pokemon game. If your project ever gets well known and someone at Nintendo might notice it they still probably won't care. If for whatever reason they do start to care they'll send you a letter. At which point your game is either infamous for its poor portrayal of pokemon (bad rep for nintendo) or way too famous (in which case you might get hired by nintendo).

All of this talk is fluff. You haven't even started to make a game yet and all this talk shouldn't discourage you either. If it does - this forum has failed.

Don't sell it. Don't claim it as your own. You'll be fine. Nintendo isn't known for hunting down their fans.

Offline span123

Senior Newbie





« Reply #26 - Posted 2012-08-29 00:29:31 »

I will go for it Wink
When its done I tell you guys and well I might ask some questions here again if I face any problems where I get stuck Smiley
Thanks for your answers
Offline gouessej
« Reply #27 - Posted 2012-08-29 01:04:11 »

Just don't use copyrighted contents and don't try to benefit of the fame of artworks you have never contributed to create without the prior consent of the author(s). It's not just a legal problem, it is a ethical and political problem. Who is legitimate to decide what can be done with artworks? Copyright owners? Authors? I vote for the latter and I expect from them to be kind enough not to use abusive licensing terms.

I prefer having crappy graphics than graphics infringing intellectual property.

Offline Nate

JGO Kernel


Medals: 145
Projects: 4
Exp: 14 years


Esoteric Software


« Reply #28 - Posted 2012-08-29 03:55:52 »

Like I said, don't infringe their trademarks and you're all clear.  This includes "Pokemon", "Pocket Monsters", or any highly similar names, as well as the names or pictures of any Pokemon characters.  The rules you can clone as much as you want.
The rules can be patented, in which case you can't copy them. Eg, Magic: The Gathering's rules patent expires 2015, which patents "tapping" a card (turning it 90 degrees to denote state), etc. The rules text, card/character names, card text, art, etc is copyrighted, you can't ever use it.

That said, there is nothing wrong with making a similar game.

Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel


Medals: 201



« Reply #29 - Posted 2012-08-29 04:52:43 »

My game's rules involve "activating" a card, where you turn it 89 degrees.  Yawn
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