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Fan Games Illegal?


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#1 Created By Ben

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 11:32 PM

I am not sure if this goes here, but is it illegal to make a fun game with fan game sprite sheets? I've always wondered.

Thanks

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#2 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 11:36 PM

If you looked around a bit, you would have found your answer easily. Like this:

...ultimately, you should not use any "found" resource unless you obtain the permission from the piece's author, and original author, if the work is derivative of another.

It doesn't matter if you are selling it.
It doesn't matter if it's just a fangame.
It doesn't matter if the piece is obscure.

If you want your game to be perfectly legal in the off-chance that it does become something "big," then you shouldn't use other people's work (art, music, code, etc) without permission. Period.


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#3 Overman

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 11:39 PM

Yeah, fun games are illegal.

#4 DMEISTER

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 10:54 AM

Yeah, fun games are illegal.


so just make boring games, guys, and you'll be fine :lol:
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#5 King Tetiro

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 02:34 PM

Im afraid that fan games are illegal. HOWEVER, some firms don't mind fan games as it shows the love of the firm's games and promotes the firm.
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#6 DMEISTER

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 02:50 PM

Im afraid that fan games are illegal. HOWEVER, some firms don't mind fan games as it shows the love of the firm's games and promotes the firm.


true and raking some kid off to court makes them look heartless which is bad for PR.
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#7 King Tetiro

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 02:56 PM

That too. XD
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#8 kburkhart84

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 02:26 PM

Nintendo is one company(of not very many) that so far hasn't had any problems with fan games. More than half of the games posted on yoyogames that are fan games are either mario, zelda, or pokemon games, all by nintendo. I think it is because nintendo likes the free advertising. They are a big enough company, that they won't get a bad name from any fan games, even if the fan game sucks. Smaller companies might not like it so much, considering it might make them look bad, but nintendo is too big to worry about such small details.

The reality is, such fan games ARE illegal. Just the use of said sprites, images, music is considered copyright infringement. It costs money to sue, or even have lawyers write cease and desist letters, so nothing happens. I would't make a fan game myself, just because of the sheer quantity we already have. I mean, we have actual engines dedicated to making mario games. Its a good thing nintendo doesn't care to waste the money, because most of the gmc could be in trouble if they did :)
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#9 DMEISTER

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 02:47 PM

It costs money to sue, or even have lawyers write cease and desist letters, so nothing happens.


Well I am no expert but I would have thought there was a standard format for such letters. To pay a lawyer to do it seems crazy, I would imagine a big company had an in-house legal team in any case.
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#10 kburkhart84

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 07:14 PM

It costs money to sue, or even have lawyers write cease and desist letters, so nothing happens.


Well I am no expert but I would have thought there was a standard format for such letters. To pay a lawyer to do it seems crazy, I would imagine a big company had an in-house legal team in any case.


Good point there. Even so, it may not even be worth the time for them to sue, especially considering that with a company this big, there is no damage done, and the person getting sued probably doesn't have any money to payout, assuming the case was for money.
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#11 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 09:04 PM

Well I am no expert but I would have thought there was a standard format for such letters. To pay a lawyer to do it seems crazy, I would imagine a big company had an in-house legal team in any case.

The "in-house legal team" as you call it are lawyers. They draft up a cease and desist and post it to the offending parties.

Good point there. Even so, it may not even be worth the time for them to sue, especially considering that with a company this big, there is no damage done, and the person getting sued probably doesn't have any money to payout, assuming the case was for money.

A cease and desist is not a "we are suing you" letter, it is a "stop it or we might sue" letter.
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#12 kburkhart84

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 01:48 AM

Good point there. Even so, it may not even be worth the time for them to sue, especially considering that with a company this big, there is no damage done, and the person getting sued probably doesn't have any money to payout, assuming the case was for money.

A cease and desist is not a "we are suing you" letter, it is a "stop it or we might sue" letter.


This is true of course. But the concept is still about the same, though the cost to actually sue is a lot more. If I'm mistaken, if a big company took the time to send out the cease and desist letter, than they would be fully willing to follow through with the court case if the other party does not "cease and desist." But no, they aren't the same thing.
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#13 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 02:46 AM

This is true of course. But the concept is still about the same, though the cost to actually sue is a lot more. If I'm mistaken, if a big company took the time to send out the cease and desist letter, than they would be fully willing to follow through with the court case if the other party does not "cease and desist." But no, they aren't the same thing.

Not many companies would send out a cease and desist as an idle threat. But their intentions are not always to sue, especially in the case of a fan game. They are unlikely to recover court costs if they sue, I would say that in a case like this they would be trying to get a court to prevent the game being distributed.
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#14 TheMitch21

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 03:02 AM

Who knew we had so many law-literates on the GMC? :) It's good to know if one of us gets sued, we'll have free wannabe lawyers by our sides.

But paying a lawyer to write a letter seems a bit unnecessary, because there are plenty of templates (Microsoft Word has some, I believe) that are Legal, and meant to be printed on Legal Paper.


As to the Fan games, I doubt anyone will take big action against you, because it might give them a bad look from other people's points of views, unless the creator was intentionally selling the game without permission from resources.

Edited by fenwaydog21, 16 October 2008 - 03:02 AM.

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#15 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 03:11 AM

But paying a lawyer to write a letter seems a bit unnecessary, because there are plenty of templates (Microsoft Word has some, I believe) that are Legal, and meant to be printed on Legal Paper.

Sure, you wont hire a lawyer to do it. But if Nintendo sent me a cease and desist obviously made with a Word template, I would just laugh.

As to the Fan games, I doubt anyone will take big action against you, because it might give them a bad look from other people's points of views, unless the creator was intentionally selling the game without permission from resources.

The consequences are not all that bad for us-type people. The largest worry is the fact you can't enter it in a yoyogames competition.
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#16 DMEISTER

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 07:28 AM

Well I am no expert but I would have thought there was a standard format for such letters. To pay a lawyer to do it seems crazy, I would imagine a big company had an in-house legal team in any case.

The "in-house legal team" as you call it are lawyers. They draft up a cease and desist and post it to the offending parties.


My point exactly, I know they are lawyers, I was just setting these guys straight :)
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#17 rinkuhero

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 08:58 PM

Fan games are not illegal provided they are fan games of works which have expired copyrights. For instance, creating a fan game of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a fan game of Little Red Riding Hood, is not illegal because those works are long out of copyright (or copyright didn't exist when they were written).

Edited by rinkuhero, 16 October 2008 - 08:58 PM.

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#18 bob799

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:30 AM

Fan games are not illegal provided they are fan games of works which have expired copyrights. For instance, creating a fan game of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a fan game of Little Red Riding Hood, is not illegal because those works are long out of copyright (or copyright didn't exist when they were written).

Yeah but I doubt that's of much importance to us =p
But basically, if your worried about getting in trouble for a fan game do some research. Some companies like blizzard are well known for defending their property, while others like Nintendo don't mind fan games. It's still technically illegal unless you get permission but it's up to the company whether or not to enforce the law.
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#19 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:34 AM

As far as the GMC goes, 99% of people are not worried about being prosocuted, nor do they have reason to. But that doesn't make it legal. Although it does prevent you entering your game into a YoYo Games competition.
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#20 kburkhart84

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:51 AM

Fan games are not illegal provided they are fan games of works which have expired copyrights. For instance, creating a fan game of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a fan game of Little Red Riding Hood, is not illegal because those works are long out of copyright (or copyright didn't exist when they were written).


I'm not sure about all of that. The story book ones are indeed correct, since copyright expires. I'm not sure, but I think that in the case of zelda, pokemon, and mario, I don't think those would expire yet. This isn't because of the ten years time(which have passed), rather because nintendo continues to create new content based on these things. I may be wrong, but I understood that when nintendo makes a new mario game, they kind of "auto-extend" their copyright, or don't they. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to explain.
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#21 NinjaBril

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 05:45 AM

I am not sure if this goes here, but is it illegal to make a fun game with fan game sprite sheets? I've always wondered.

Thanks

Ben


yes,
but people usually make a deal out of it when you try to get a profit out of it.
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#22 NakedPaulToast

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 02:04 PM

This isn't because of the ten years time(which have passed), rather because nintendo continues to create new content based on these things. I may be wrong, but I understood that when nintendo makes a new mario game, they kind of "auto-extend" their copyright, or don't they. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to explain.


Copyright lasts a heck of a lot longer than 10 years and doesn't autoextend.

What most fail to understand is fangames can be a violation of both copyright, trademark or both. Two very different forms of IP with very different rules.

Trademark can be owned forever, copyright can not be.

Copyright is the ownership of specific works, images, stories, games, songs. Trademark is the ownership of expressions, characters, names.

If you use a character that resembles Mickey Mouse, even though you haven't ripped or copied a graphic, then you aren't necessarily in violation of copyright, but you might be in violation of trademark. This is dependant on how closely the character you have created resembles the trademarked character.
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#23 NinjaBril

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 06:11 AM

This isn't because of the ten years time(which have passed), rather because nintendo continues to create new content based on these things. I may be wrong, but I understood that when nintendo makes a new mario game, they kind of "auto-extend" their copyright, or don't they. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to explain.


Copyright lasts a heck of a lot longer than 10 years and doesn't autoextend.

What most fail to understand is fangames can be a violation of both copyright, trademark or both. Two very different forms of IP with very different rules.

Trademark can be owned forever, copyright can not be.

Copyright is the ownership of specific works, images, stories, games, songs. Trademark is the ownership of expressions, characters, names.

If you use a character that resembles Mickey Mouse, even though you haven't ripped or copied a graphic, then you aren't necessarily in violation of copyright, but you might be in violation of trademark. This is dependant on how closely the character you have created resembles the trademarked character.


i think i recall you can legally use a song after ten years with out permission. I believe that is correct.
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#24 DMEISTER

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 07:32 AM

This isn't because of the ten years time(which have passed), rather because nintendo continues to create new content based on these things. I may be wrong, but I understood that when nintendo makes a new mario game, they kind of "auto-extend" their copyright, or don't they. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to explain.


Copyright lasts a heck of a lot longer than 10 years and doesn't autoextend.

What most fail to understand is fangames can be a violation of both copyright, trademark or both. Two very different forms of IP with very different rules.

Trademark can be owned forever, copyright can not be.

Copyright is the ownership of specific works, images, stories, games, songs. Trademark is the ownership of expressions, characters, names.

If you use a character that resembles Mickey Mouse, even though you haven't ripped or copied a graphic, then you aren't necessarily in violation of copyright, but you might be in violation of trademark. This is dependant on how closely the character you have created resembles the trademarked character.


i think i recall you can legally use a song after ten years with out permission. I believe that is correct.


well you need to provide a reliable source if we are to accept this, otherwise it's just a case of "some kid on a forum reckons".
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#25 AKH

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 12:02 PM

i think i recall you can legally use a song after ten years with out permission. I believe that is correct.

it is not. Music copyright is the same as any other copyright. Generally, a (registered) copyright will last for the creator's life + 75 years, then the work (whatever it is) becomes public domain. The laws are different if the copyright is owned by a company, but the copyright certainly does not expire in 10 years (more like 90, I think).

However, copyright laws vary from country to country, I'm just using US Copyright law here, you might be right in some countries.
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#26 chainsawkitten

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 02:30 PM

Fan games are not illegal provided they are fan games of works which have expired copyrights. For instance, creating a fan game of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a fan game of Little Red Riding Hood, is not illegal because those works are long out of copyright (or copyright didn't exist when they were written).


I'm not sure about all of that. The story book ones are indeed correct, since copyright expires. I'm not sure, but I think that in the case of zelda, pokemon, and mario, I don't think those would expire yet. This isn't because of the ten years time(which have passed), rather because nintendo continues to create new content based on these things. I may be wrong, but I understood that when nintendo makes a new mario game, they kind of "auto-extend" their copyright, or don't they. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to explain.

It's not 10 years... It's author's death + 70 years. I don't know how it is with companies though...
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#27 kburkhart84

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 03:44 PM

Fan games are not illegal provided they are fan games of works which have expired copyrights. For instance, creating a fan game of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a fan game of Little Red Riding Hood, is not illegal because those works are long out of copyright (or copyright didn't exist when they were written).


I'm not sure about all of that. The story book ones are indeed correct, since copyright expires. I'm not sure, but I think that in the case of zelda, pokemon, and mario, I don't think those would expire yet. This isn't because of the ten years time(which have passed), rather because nintendo continues to create new content based on these things. I may be wrong, but I understood that when nintendo makes a new mario game, they kind of "auto-extend" their copyright, or don't they. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to explain.

It's not 10 years... It's author's death + 70 years. I don't know how it is with companies though...


I don't think there would be much difference with companies. Since there isn't one creators lifetime to calculate with, they probably just put up a long time. The whole trademark bit also is valid here. Most fan games and the sprite sheets they use are also protected by trademark copyright as well, so it is still illegal. And I don't know where I got ten years from :mellow:
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#28 Kidwarrior66

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:09 AM

As long as you're not making any profit off of your fan game, game companies will see no reason to take legal action, especially if you're using sprites from incredibly old NES or SNES games. I think those games are considered public domain now, seeing as the game companies aren't making any money off of them anymore.

I think fan projects, parodies, and spoofs are protected by US law, but I'm not sure. Could someone look this up?
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#29 rinkuhero

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:17 AM

As long as you're not making any profit off of your fan game, game companies will see no reason to take legal action, especially if you're using sprites from incredibly old NES or SNES games. I think those games are considered public domain now, seeing as the game companies aren't making any money off of them anymore.

I think fan projects, parodies, and spoofs are protected by US law, but I'm not sure. Could someone look this up?


Parodies are, but what a parody is is up to a jury to decide. A strict remake isn't a parody.

Also, it's untrue that they only take legal action if you charge money. There are several fan projects which did not charge money, but got shut down anyway, like that 3D Chrono Trigger project.
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#30 NinjaBril

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 01:00 AM

i think i recall you can legally use a song after ten years with out permission. I believe that is correct.

it is not. Music copyright is the same as any other copyright. Generally, a (registered) copyright will last for the creator's life + 75 years, then the work (whatever it is) becomes public domain. The laws are different if the copyright is owned by a company, but the copyright certainly does not expire in 10 years (more like 90, I think).

However, copyright laws vary from country to country, I'm just using US Copyright law here, you might be right in some countries.


oh, i remember someone telling me about the 10 year rule, but i guess it is wrong, because i googled it.
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