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Using someone's IP

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by wfsw32, May 2, 2012.

  1. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    I looked in the User Agreements and all that but couldn't find anything on it so I decided to ask here.

    If my friends and I were planning to make a free game that utilized another company's IP is that okay, so long as we give credit where credit is due? Think Pokemon.
     
  2. wccrawford

    wccrawford

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    No. Absolutely not. No.

    You must ask and receive permission.
     
  3. JRavey

    JRavey

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    The P in IP stands for "property". Can I use your toothbrush and just give you credit?
     
  4. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    Well, as the way I understand it some companies don't do anything about their IP being used. Valve being an the most obvious.
     
  5. OmniverseProduct

    OmniverseProduct

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    Nope. You have to get permission directly from the company before you do anything like that. If they say no then bummer. If they say yes, odds are it will have to be free so it's not competing with their associated products.
     
  6. OmniverseProduct

    OmniverseProduct

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    would you rather get a cease and desist letter from their attorney or possibly get charges pressed against you or your team? All that hard work would be wasted if you don't ask for permission or if you do and they say no and you do it anyway because you think you can get away from it.
     
  7. _Petroz

    _Petroz

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    If you contact the IP owner and get their permission then it is fine. If it's just a hobby project and you're not releasing publicly then no one will ever know so you should be safe. If you are releasing publicly and you use other people's property without permission then you could find yourself in court.
     
  8. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Just get permission.
     
  9. drewradley

    drewradley

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    Screw permission. Do a parody. :)
     
  10. OmniverseProduct

    OmniverseProduct

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    lol. I would love to see that for any game actually!
     
  11. TehWut

    TehWut

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    I wonder how much they payed Activision.
     
  12. burnpsy

    burnpsy

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    If a company literally does nothing, depending on which country they're in, they might have just forfeited all right to that IP.

    Yeah, give up on the whole idea or you could face court litigation.
     
  13. Morning

    Morning

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    Not in US which is where most developers are located. As long as they enforce their IP aka sue anyone who uses it, they own the IP and you can do nothing about it (you can pay them though).
    Overall I wouldn't bother with fangames is because if you put effort into them it sucks badly to have it shut down. Instead create your own world and put a lot of effort into that. Not only will that give you more experience, the project will have higher chance of not dying.
     
  14. burnpsy

    burnpsy

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    That's essentially what I just said - they forfeit it if they do nothing, so they have to do something whenever they catch someone infringing upon it.
     
  15. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

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    This is what i would do if someone stole my IP
    1. If it looks promising wait until it is super popular
    2. send a cease and decease
    3. sue for losses it caused me
    ...
    If none of those work hunt them to the end of the world with my good friend Lead Pipe :D
     
  16. Morning

    Morning

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    If you're a big company you can always hire others to do it for you :)
     
  17. Zethariel1

    Zethariel1

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    Using a Lead Pipe doesn't cut it -- you can't harvest that which has no life/knee-caps/whatever.

    Detective Lawyers >> Lead Pipe dudes.
     
  18. Nemox

    Nemox

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    There are very few companies willing to turn a blind eye to fan works, especially if the work is for profit. You really must understand that particular company's policies, their relations to fans, and their past reactions before even considering fan work. If you do decide to follow through with it, make it obvious that you're willing to work -with- the company in question rather than to dodge their efforts to bring your project to a halt.

    And of course, cease and desist means cease and desist.
     
  19. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    This is not true. At least, it's not how I understand it. If it's MY IP and I don't notice someone is using it, it's still my IP.

    @OP - Best to ask. Actually, it's best to NOT use their IP. Just look at their ideas and be inspired to do something original, even if similar. Odds are your product won't be worth anything, but if it is, they can come back later and get ya.

    Gigi.
     
  20. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    Only way you can do this is if you get direct written permission by the IP owner.

    Example would be to use music by Kevin MacLeod. He provides his music free to use with a well-documented use conditions (give him credit is basically all that is required, a donation is a nice to have for him but not required.)

    You can't just go about and use some one's IP. If you do this, you can be liable for a LOT of money. Imagine you use Pokémon and you get to distribute the game you make for free.

    Best thing that can happen, Nintendo asks you to stop, remove the app from the internet and that would be it (if you do what they say.)
    Most likely case, they call you to court, and you must spend money in lawyers and are able to "settle" for a few thousand dollars.
    Worst case, still very likely even if not most likely: you go to court, you spend money in lawyers, they offer no settlement or accept no settlement, and the court awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in punitive damages.

    ONLY USE SOME ONE ELSE'S IP IF THEY GAVE YOU PERMISSION.

    Note: Nintendo will never give you permission to use Pokemon.
     
  21. burnpsy

    burnpsy

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    Common misconception. Legally, however, it works the way I just said it does. And it's not a matter of not noticing, it's a matter of not taking action when you do notice.
     
  22. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    Valve does mind, if they find out about it.

    There are many things floating the internet that legal departments of companies have not found out about, and that's why they still exist. But you don't want things to get that far. Once you are the target of legal action, it tends to be too late to just apologize and walk away.

    That is not true. The "forefeet if you do nothing" rule only applies to Trademarks. Copyright and patents don't have any enforcement requirements to remain active.

    It is not unheard for a company to do nothing, and decide later, or allow future management to decide. If you take action to "give a blessing", you may give a license that hurts the company in the long run. Silent blessings are not mythological, but hold no water in court. You may have been living off a fake IP for 10 years, and the company may have been documented to be aware of it, they still can after those 10 years take you to court. A judge MAY decide to cap how much damages he can be awarded, but he still can take you to court and will retain full ownership of his IP.

    If your IP is popular enough, you can just make the fans do it for free, by saying something like "until this guy suffers, I won’t release another sequel." Geek fans can take down government networks with that kind of IP owner pouting. :p

    Lead Pipes also can damage internal organs, rendering them useless for black market sale in order make up economical loss. ;) Surgical instruments can do better :D
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  23. Nemox

    Nemox

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    This goes along with what I posted. Some companies are lenient, most aren't, and Nintendo has shut down Pokemon games in the past. I think part of it is because it is entirely possible to perfectly emulate their gameplay very easily, and most art comes straight from the games. This essentially renders it meaningless to buy new Pokemon games.
    Now, the fact that a few of said Pokemon fangames have been online games that require connection to a server to play, once the server is gone there is essentially no longer any game, even for those who did download copies.
    A single-player game however might have ended in much worse terms.

    If it's Pokemon, you are definitely setting yourself up for failure.
     
  24. Haledire

    Haledire

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    Here's a relevant article to the topic:
    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-04/13/sega-shuts-down-streets-of-rage-remake
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/34058/

    Note that in this situation, Sega 'supposedly' had been notified by these guys that they were working in this fan-remake of a game, and 8 years later they still got shut down right as they were trying to release it.

    Big thing to ask yourself - do you really want to invest a lot of time in a project that has a high chance of getting shut down even at the very day it gets finished? Is clinging desperately to the coattails of an established IP worth the probability of having all the work be in vain?

    You could make a 'similar' game very easily. You could use the established IP as a reference to how you want to make your own game. Just use an original story (we seem to have plenty of people in the collaboration forum throwing out their 'writing prowess' all the time) and link it to the gameplay you want to present. Figure out an art style you want to use and try to find someone who is willing to go the mile to make the art you need.

    Lawsuits averted.
    Danger mostly negated.

    Do you still make a game? Of course. Will it be as popular? Depends on the writing, art, and the gameplay. Do you have lawyers breathing down your neck? Doubtful (unless you're doing some other shady dealings with your art/coding assets). Will you have opportunities to expand on this game? Well it becomes YOUR IP when you are using completely original work, so you could do all you want with it, even making your own little franchise if it becomes popular.

    Making your own IP is always a better idea than it is to basically rip off another one simply for the popularity. There are so many more opportunities you can set yourself up for if you make your own work. Trying to take the shortcut isn't always going to get you where you want to be any faster.

    Look at Cave story and La Mulana. Indie games made years ago. You could make parallels of the gameplay of each game to Metroid and Castlevania. Did they have to rip off an IP to be popular?

    There are many ways to conceptually make monsters fight each other. Dragon Quest Monsters has similar gameplay to Pokemon. Jade Cocoon has elements that could be related to it also.

    Bottom line: Look at a game as part of a genre. Make your own take on the genre. That's how people have been doing it for years.
     
  25. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    Well, here's the reason we aren't using an original IP. Because Pokemon is so great. And the game wouldn't be an RPG in any sense. It would be a 3rd-person real-time action game with some strategy. There would be absolutely no story. Just a (what we think would be fun) multiplayer game.

    Has Nintendo ever taken anyone to court? I know they've shut down plenty of games and if they sent us a cease-and-desist we would quickly comply (we're not stupid, just a bit ignorant on the IP laws).
     
  26. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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  27. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    Could the game be infringing on their sales if it is a completely different style of game that Nintendo has never made before?
     
  28. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    You don't infringe on sales, you infringe on copyright. And it would infringe, as long as it uses their recognizable property, you are infringing.

    If you are asking: "can the game make them lose money?", technically yes. If they had interest of anyone making a Pokemon game, they can sell those rights for millions, but any such negotiation would fall apart if they allow anyone to make free versions of their game, no matter what style it takes.

    Nintendo also has a very successful pattern of "starving" consumers. They don't release a new title on each IP every year like EA or other companies do. This is no accident, they intentionally make consumers "hungry" and crave a next incarnation. A free game that offers a "snack" to people, free or not, can do more damage to this very successful cycle than piracy.
     
  29. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    My recommendation: inspire yourself on Pokemon, but don't copy them. Look at similar games, like Digimon (that ironically is older than Pokemon) and try to make something in-between. Design your own critters, call them something different and use different techniques (no pokeballs, instead... Soul Gems? Dimensional Cubes?

    Allow your loved games to inspire you, but don't just copy them (nor their background or characters.)
     
  30. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    Would something that looked very similar to a Charizard but doesn't look exactly like a charizard be infringing?
     
  31. OmniverseProduct

    OmniverseProduct

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    It could be, depending on how much it looked alike
     
  32. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    Hmmmm... -_-
    I'd love to ask Nintendo for permission but it seems that, after some research, they decline all requests due to the amount of requests. :/
     
  33. Zethariel1

    Zethariel1

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    If you change his colours from red to green, it is copyright infringing.

    If you make a giant dragon that has a burning scalp, I guess no one would even think of a pokemon, unless you foolishly pointed out "This is inspired on Charizard, I love Pokemans".
     
  34. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    No, no and no.
    Make sure you get written permission first.

    You don't want all the blood, sweat and tears you put into a game be all for nothing because you brought a lawsuit upon your company.
     
  35. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Doesn't matter. They have the right to bring it to that form of media, and you don't. Listen to the advice - DO NOT USE SOMEONE ELSE'S IP! Use the IP as inspiration only.

    Gigi.
     
  36. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    They won't give you permission. Not their style.
     
  37. adaman

    adaman

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    Exploding Rabbit has gotten lots of kudos for his game Super Mario Crossover. He's even making money from ads and sells merchandise on his site.

    http://www.explodingrabbit.com/games/super-mario-bros-crossover

    It looks like Nintendo doesn't care as long as you:
    - make the game look professional
    - use older IP from 80's or 90's
    - make the game web only
    - don't make any money directly from the game
    - call it a fan game

    Don't get too attached to the game though. One day they might tell you take it down.
     
  38. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    Thank you. You've renewed some of my hope. ^_^
    We've decided that at first it will be a totally private game but we will put gameplay on YouTube and when the game is finished we will ask Nintendo if we can non-commercially distribute it as we will have something to show them. And if they say no, we won't.

    Would we get in trouble then?
     
  39. Xiede

    Xiede

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    No one here can technically answer that question.

    Most likely, once you get to the point of releasing it (for free), one of three things is going to happen:

    A) Nintendo is going to do nothing
    B) Nintendo's lawyer arm is going to hit you with a cease and desist letter
    C) Nintendo's lawyer arm is just going to sue you

    A and B are more likely then C.

    If you decide you are going to sell it, B and C become much more likely.

    Reality... if you want to develop a game and really go at it, just make the game in a similar style but make up your own IP.

    That way if you do in the end find you might be able to monetize it, you can without worry of lawsuits.
     
  40. FusionGames

    FusionGames

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    Really...just think of something original...especially when dealing with Nintendo. IP and Copyright Protection can be very sticky...once you've made an IP holder mad, you're in a lot of trouble...it's not worth the risk, seriously.
     
  41. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    What I mean is, could we get in trouble for just making it and posting videos online?
    We wouldn't release it without permission.
     
  42. drewradley

    drewradley

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    Yes you can get in trouble for posting videos you made of other people's IP. It's still a violation of copyright. Will you? Who knows, but you certainly can get in trouble for doing it. It doesn't matter what format the copyright infringement takes, infringement is infringement.

    Look at it the other way, would you make a game for a movie you didn't have permission to use? Well, maybe you would, but you are violating their copyright.

    Here's a simple rule: don't do it. Take the IP you want to use and just make it your own. Instead of Pocket Monsters, make Fanny Pack Minions.
     
  43. OmniverseProduct

    OmniverseProduct

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    Yes you will still get into trouble. It doesn't matter if it's a video or an actual game.
     
  44. keithsoulasa

    keithsoulasa

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    When ever I see this type of thing I think this

    " Me and my team are too unoriginal to think of new ideas, is it OK if we steal someone else's ,
    and we might not sell this one, but guess what we'll work on a new game after this one, charge for that and use the massive popularity we got
    from ripping off someone else's idea . "

    Your allowed to be inspired, heck Star Wars is a hodgepodge of various great ideas that came before .
    Like if you made Star Wars with a female Luke , and some strange plot differences ( like idk , the deathstar actually destroys planets in order to gather some need mineral thats the only known substance to make a cure for some space disease) . And as long as it brings some new things to the table its ok . However, you can't just MAKE starwars again , or have Yoda pop up and guide your characters around .
     
  45. adaman

    adaman

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    I don't know, but I highly doubt if Exploding Rabbit ever asked Nintendo for permissions.
     
  46. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    I would not be that harsh. My first ever design document for a game was for "Mega Man 4". I was a huge Mega Man fan at the time and had cleared 3, so I daydreamed so much about a 4th that I made a full level and boss design document. It was all paper, since I had no computer access at the time, but the point is: when you are young, with a lot of time in your hands, and are passionate about some franchise, you just want to work on it.

    It can be a waste of time, if it's for private use, go for it, just don't consider publishing it. You are better off making something of your own, since you can toss it free on the web and use it to get a real job (who knows, maybe working for Nintendo in Pokemon) in the gaming industry. Every publisher seems to want you to have published titles (even if we talking free on a website) to give you a game dev job, so it's best if you can get stuff done that you won't be asked to take down due to copyright infringement.

    My point remain it's not a good idea to go that path, BUT I don't think it's just "laziness" or "unoriginality" that makes people want to do this kind of project.
     
  47. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    Thank you very much for being nice about this all. ^_^
    I wouldn't distribute it online without receiving permission.
    And I don't think I'll ever get a job in the video game development industry but I DO have original ideas for games and I DO plan on making them when this game is completed. ^_^
     
  48. keithsoulasa

    keithsoulasa

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    I stand by what I said - most of these projects end up "leaking" and ultimately its about using someone else's property to enrich your self .


    Get inspired forsure , but don't just use someone else's work .
     
  49. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    I should mention I'm working on The Other Brothers, which in no small part reminds you of mario. But it is a sum of things that push it far from the original material. For a start, it is deliberately retro, where all marios are now 3D. Secondly, it doesn't play like mario nor feature the same levels even slightly. The characters are sufficiently different enough to be a spin on what is now popular culture.

    Yes, nintendo could come at us. But they do not have the power to change the law, so will not be able to damage us as it really is a different game. There's no pipes, there's no plumbers, and certainly nothing that will tie it to mario. If anything, the art style is like day of the tentacle.

    My rambling point is, you can capture a flavour of something legally (TOB uses flavours from many sources).
     
  50. wfsw32

    wfsw32

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    How would the game leak on the internet when we wouldn't upload it to the internet?