Videogames and Laws

10
SmallFast #453 0 74

Hi there! I'm new to videogame developement and I really would like to show you guys my games so that I can improve my skills. I saw that some people on this community posted their game on itch.io or other sites and I would like to do it . But I stopped because I'm scared by copyright laws, above all copyright laws about names. So what do you know about?Do you have some advices? Consider that I don't live in the USA and I'm only 19, but I did some researches in my country too and I know that the difference between copyright and trademarks is the same as in other countries. But are there other things to know?

18
Tim Ruswick #1 89 2068

There's nothing to be scared of dude. I'm not a lawyer so this is not legal advice, just something from my experience.

If you are using a for sure 100% trademarked name like "Super Mario Bros" or something of the sort, just change it. But if not, its generally fine as long as you release it for free and you dont actually rip assets from some anywhere. If there ever is a problem with copyrights, most companies send a "Cease and Desist" letter before they take any legal action, which means basically they ask you to take it down.

Share what you're working on!

10
SmallFast #453 0 74

Thank you Tim! So I'll go on with my projects

9
ricvalerio #399 0 47

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, so please don't take this as legal advice.

Do a quick research on the name you are using at least, and avoid copying things. When it comes to names and titles, do a quick search, see what comes up. If what you have exists, but in a different industry, then it might be ok - trademarks are by industry and country, not an absolute world wide thing - but always seek expert advice, and should you get a good game published, seek expert help to register trademarks for your games in the most important countries.

When it comes to games themselves, remember: IDEAS are not copyrightable, only EXPRESSIONS of those ideas. Example: a super hero with super strength and flying capabilities. An EXPRESSION of that idea is Super Man. But you could make your expression, say, a super hero that had wing implants, or uses an anti-gravity field of sorts, etc. Just be careful to not use Super Man's costume, that would easily make you lose a case. So don't be afraid to copy specific game mechanics or other IDEAS.

Now if you are indeed using a copyrighted name by accident, then most often you first get either a cease and desist kind of warning (provided they can contact you somehow) or if you published for example in the Google Play store then they might just use the Google Play store mechanisms and shut down your game without any warning - and you get warnings from Google Play, which after some time they can just block your account if you repeatedly infringe trademarks. But generally speaking, it's common that people use trademarked names without knowing it, because they are not informed, or believe it was public domain, etc.

As with all things, research a bit before making decisions and seek expert help if you are unsure. There is also great material out there on copyright, trademarks and etc regarding videogames.

6
Astra Cat #543 0 16

I would say only specifics are copyrightable. 

As a composer I can tell you that in music it's very simple...MOST of the time melodies are the strictist, you MUST not steal melodies. Rhythm is SOMETIMES restricted (think the Terminator theme but people steal it anyway). Chord progressions are completely free game. 

I think games are the same way, for example a genre is not copyrightable. The name of the game....weeell....just do your best to make it original, just do a deep google search and see if you can find it.

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