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Fan game copyright issues


by on (#41540)
In this post, Bregalad wrote:
Quote:
b) I can't sell/spread a game containing a copyrighted character

Why everyone on this board seems suddently attracted by $$$$ ?

If you pay attention you'll see that I also wrote "spread" as in "freely distribute". The fact that I can't do something I want to be able to doesn't mean I will when I can, I just like to have options. And using copyrighted characters is just frowned upon too much these days. If I can come up with the physics, I might still settle for a Sonic clone, but not the blue dude himself, if not, I'll just use the whole engine for a different type of game with more traditional physics (still fast though).

by on (#41544)
As long as you don't make any $$$ out of Sonic copirighted character, I don't see why it would be illegal. I bet there is probably dozen of flash sonic clones on the net (altough I don't really know because, as a true gamer, I despise flash games).
I've definitely seen a few clones of Mario with Mario as a character available for free and I don't think they are illegal, as long as they're free. Altough some phyics weren't faithfull to the true Mario games and that is annoying.

by on (#41547)
Bregalad wrote:
In fact there is only 2 full games yet, namely Solar Wars and NeSnake 2. None of them implement any scrolling of any sort, and both are not side-scrolling platformers.


Still no in game scrolling, but Mystic Pillars, Glider, Chunkout 2, Geminim, Siamond, and Sudoku don't count as full games? If not, what is missing?


Bregalad wrote:
As long as you don't make any $$$ out of Sonic copirighted character, I don't see why it would be illegal.


Unfortunately the actual copyright laws say otherwise. Making money is not a requirement for copyright infringement. Not likely to be prosecuted for it on a small NES game but some people still care about the legal parts.

by on (#41549)
Quote:
If not, what is missing?

Music. Without music these are games, but not really video games I'd say (altough some people may disagree).
Quote:
Unfortunately the actual copyright laws say otherwise. Making money is not a requirement for copyright infringement. Not likely to be prosecuted for it on a small NES game but some people still care about the legal parts.

Then there is hundred of thousands of YouTube parodies and Flash games on the net who are copiright infligrements.

If you place a 10 lines long tiny pathetic text to say thing like "Sonic (TM) is a recorded trademark of Sega (R) and blah blah blah" like we see everywhere but never read it, it may become legal.

by on (#41557)
Someone feel free to split for off topic!

Bregalad wrote:
Music. Without music these are games, but not really video games I'd say (altough some people may disagree).

Solar Wars has no gameplay music so it isn't a video game. Mystic Pillars does so I guess that means there are still just 2. The original Glider for Mac didn't have significant gameplay music either so I left it out.


Bregalad wrote:
Then there is hundred of thousands of YouTube parodies and Flash games on the net who are copiright infligrements.

Parodies are fair use, at least in the USA. tokumaru would have to make a Sonic parody (drunken Sonic?) while not directly copying the original and not making a derivative work. And yes there are thousands of infringement cases, which is why companies like Viacom regularly sue YouTube. Lawyers are expensive so small projects generally are not targeted but are still not legal.


Bregalad wrote:
If you place a 10 lines long tiny pathetic text to say thing like "Sonic (TM) is a recorded trademark of Sega (R) and blah blah blah" like we see everywhere but never read it, it may become legal.

Saying it belongs to someone else doesn't give you the rights to use it. That notice lets you use Sega's trademark when referring to them, like "This game compatible with the Genesis (TM Sega)" or use their logo, not to use their copyrighted materials as your own.

by on (#41559)
What about fan art? Is it illegal to draw a picture of Sonic, and release it? If not, why can't a game be considered "fan art"? Also, what if you claim absolutely no rights? Sorry, I don't know much about copyrights, so this might sound stupid.

by on (#41560)
Celius wrote:
What about fan art? Is it illegal to draw a picture of Sonic, and release it? If not, why can't a game be considered "fan art"?

The difference is that Sega is more likely to tolerate the former than the latter. Because there isn't much of a market for character art prints in North America, they don't compete with Sega's products, unlike games.

by on (#41568)
In discussions like this, it's good to keep the issue of what is legal separate from what is likely to cause actual legal trouble. Some people like to understand the law clearly, even though they may decide to disregard some parts of it. They reason that to do the latter and know the consequences, they must know the former. Also, for many individual reasons, people differ on what parts should be followed. Like opinions, simply stating one's position along the lines of "I don't think this legal situation will happen, so I suggest you not worry about it" is much less useful than "I don't think this will legal situation will happen because of the following facts: ..."

by on (#41571)
tepples wrote:
Celius wrote:
What about fan art? Is it illegal to draw a picture of Sonic, and release it? If not, why can't a game be considered "fan art"?

The difference is that Sega is more likely to tolerate the former than the latter. Because there isn't much of a market for character art prints in North America, they don't compete with Sega's products, unlike games.
I am primarily concerned with what is fair use and legal. I don't care if Sega will tolerate my drawing of Sonic if ultimately it is illegal, and likewise I would have nothing to worry about if they hate my fangame but can do nothing since it is legal.

Is legality based on how much the company cares about your fan work?

by on (#41573)
Celius wrote:
What about fan art? Is it illegal to draw a picture of Sonic, and release it?

I remember manga artists forbidding fans to draw their characters. I think CLAMP did it.

by on (#41576)
Bregalad wrote:
Quote:
If not, what is missing?

Music. Without music these are games, but not really video games I'd say (altough some people may disagree).


All 3 of my games had music in them in some spot or another. Siamond doesn't during gameplay cause you kinda want to be paying attention to the pattern tones and not have music distractions. Geminim had it on the title screen and a few other places, but not during gameplay. That was a restriction of the Famitracker engine. Pillars certainly has music during play though.

by on (#41578)
The whole problem comes from reasonability being part of the law. Since thinking whether or not something is reasonable is an opinion, not fact, it causes lots of problems, and everyone has different opinions about this, and can't ever be clear on what's "in fact" reasonable and what's not according to the law.

by on (#41586)
tokumaru wrote:
Celius wrote:
What about fan art? Is it illegal to draw a picture of Sonic, and release it?

I remember manga artists forbidding fans to draw their characters. I think CLAMP did it.


clamp are having a heavy money making industry, also they reuse their characters a lot - it's pretty much clear they want to milk their cash cow as long as possible and "free stuff" of any kind would be just hurting their concept.

as long as there is fan art only, i think it's fine - but some companies even have a problem with this...

everyone should avoid copyrighted material in homebrew anyway. people like to rip sprites, artwork, music and other stuff without asking. my definition of "homebrew" was "beeing different" - but others might not see it that way.

by on (#41587)
<offtopic> Do you know why Rockman 9 wasn't released in NES cartridges? According to the producer, they hadn't ways to interface with the old technology. In other words, a device much like those ones used here! We know much more than the official guys. </offtopic>

- Next, do you see any problem of asking SEGA directly? If they barely know "the old technology", what's up? :) I won't discuss deep... it's a matter of the license you want to acquire for your game.

by on (#41591)
Fx3 wrote:
<offtopic> Do you know why Rockman 9 wasn't released in NES cartridges? According to the producer, they hadn't ways to interface with the old technology. In other words, a device much like those ones used here! We know much more than the official guys. </offtopic>


so who is gonna "backport" now? ;)

by on (#41592)
Fx3 wrote:
- Next, do you see any problem of asking SEGA directly?


How the heck does one even go about doing that? I might like to "ask Konami" if I could make a NES game that's a big ripoff of Castlevania, but what, do I just call 1-800-KONAMI and say "can I ripoff Castlevania for my NES port"? I'm sure it's some sort of huge shindig where trying to reach the person able to give you that information would be like trying to get one of the player's attention from the nosebleed section at a packed sports event.

Also, if you get declined the rights, you wouldn't want to go through developing your game. If you just rip off a game without asking for the rights, then they might be like "Oh, well he didn't ask for the rights." But if you rip off a game after being declined, they'll say "Hey, I specifically told that guy he couldn't have the rights! Jail for 1,000 years!"

by on (#41593)
blargg wrote:
In discussions like this, it's good to keep the issue of what is legal separate from what is likely to cause actual legal trouble.


Hear Hear. I was just going to mention this in response to one of Bregalad's earlier posts, but you beat me to it (and I'm crazy late to this thread anyway)

Bregalad wrote:
because, as a true gamer, I despise flash games


A "true gamer" would appreciate any good game regardless of what medium was used to create it, and would not dismiss an entire medium simply because he feels it's beneath his status as a "true gamer".

Quote:
Music. Without music these are games, but not really video games I'd say (altough some people may disagree).


Call me crazy, but I'd say that "video" is what seperates video games from regular games.

Plus there were some Camerica games for NES which I'm sure you wouldn't argue are video games, yet they didn't have music for the game part (just between scenes, at the title, etc). Fire Hawk comes to mind, but I know there were others... that one with the caveman whose name I can't remember.

by on (#41597)
Celius wrote:
(...)if I could make a NES game that's a big ripoff of Castlevania, but what, do I just call 1-800-KONAMI and say "can I ripoff Castlevania for my NES port"?


- From what you mentioned, yes, you are correct. By the way, there's no Sonic for the NES and, like I said, they have no way to produce cartridges because the thing is too old. Let's try again - I don't think absurd, as that Sonic game doesn't look llike a "big ripoff of the original SEGA Genesis Sonic", but a fan-made game.

- Again, there's a couple of flash games that's a BIG ripoff... and what's up? As far as I know... nothing. We have Pac Man, Street Fighter II and many others. Fan games, in Flash. We have a fan game, in 6502.

by on (#41604)
Disch wrote:
Plus there were some Camerica games for NES which I'm sure you wouldn't argue are video games, yet they didn't have music for the game part (just between scenes, at the title, etc). Fire Hawk comes to mind, but I know there were others... that one with the caveman whose name I can't remember.

Nor does Arkanoid. And some revisions of Konami's Top Gun don't have music during gameplay either, instead having some sort of engine noise. The one I owned on cart had the Top Gun theme at the title screen and a "Danger Zone" sound-alike during the attract mode demo, but engine noise during play. But I've been told other revisions play the "Danger Zone" sound-alike during play.

If you think you can't get in trouble for a too-similar clone, look at The Great Giana Sisters for Commodore 64. The art style and level design were so similar to that of SMB1 that Nintendo could easily bully Rainbow Arts into recalling the game.

by on (#41615)
UncleSporky wrote:
Is legality based on how much the company cares about your fan work?

No, but likelihood of encountering legal action is. Civil law defines what can be done, not what must be done.

by on (#41617)
Mmh...
If parodies are legal, tokumaru should just turn his Sonic clone into a Sonic parody and that should do the trick. That can also explain the different physics. The official Castlevania parody for the NES, Boko Dracula Kun, have very different physics of actual Castelvania games.

Celius is doing a Castlevania parody I guess so it should be legal anyway.

But what exactly differs a parody from a clone ? It doesn't use the exact same graphics, and doesn't take itself seriously ? Does lowering the number of colors consider as not re-using the same graphics ?

by on (#41633)
blargg wrote:
UncleSporky wrote:
Is legality based on how much the company cares about your fan work?

No, but likelihood of encountering legal action is. Civil law defines what can be done, not what must be done.


I just remembered of that Rockman 7 for Windows. It mimics the old Rockman NES engine perfectly and... it's an 8bit version. Is Capcom taking any action against that free distribution? ;)

by on (#42851)
Bregalad wrote:
But what exactly differs a parody from a clone ? It doesn't use the exact same graphics, and doesn't take itself seriously ?

A parody is a work that uses elements of another work to make a comment on that other work. For example, The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall uses elements of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind to criticize the white-centric viewpoint of GWTW. In video games, early versions of Lockjaw were intended to make a comment on the futility of playing against some Tetris DS players, and this mode is still there (as "Garbage level 4"). But if I use elements of work A solely to make a comment on work B, it's not a parody (Dr. Seuss v. Penguin Books).

by on (#42882)
Slightly offtopic, but here are some general thoughts on using copyrighted/trademark characters in homebrew games:

There's hardly a way around using them if you're creating some kind of direct tribute to the respective original game, of course, but I've often seen them in homebrew games in an effort to either benefit from the popularity of these characters or to avoid the need for creating original artwork.

Imho, it hurts the reception of your game in the two latter cases, not only because it has that rip-off feel to it, but also because homebrew games have a tendency to fall short in the direct comparison to a full-blown commercial game and using artwork of commerical games provokes such a comparison.

I believe that original artwork and character design always is a big plus.

What I found especially useful both for prototyping and creating final artwork is 3d modelling/rendering.
Creating, drawing and animating a character in still 2d pictures alone can be a very daunting task and it takes both artistic skill and a lot of practice to get acceptable results.
I'm not saying that 3d modelling doesn't take skill, but you can work way more rational and methodic than with traditional animation.
Also, 3d modelling tools considerably easen many of the hard parts like proportions and animation and also add a whole lot of flexibility.

I don't know if you remember the characters from my SNES game N-Warp Daisakusen.
Although I personally don't think they look that way, alot of people believed they were all hand-drawn in 2d, but they are actually direct 3d renderings, created with Blender.
I disabled all the shading and filtering and used 16 color textures in order to be able to directly export the render output to the SNES sprite graphics format.
I believe the same concept could easily be applied to create graphics for NES games.
Not even with the intent of creating fluid, detailed or realistic graphics, just as a rapid prototyping system.
It's easy once you get the hang of it.

Ok, that was really offtopic now...

by on (#42884)
Quote:
Not even with the intent of creating fluid, detailed or realistic graphics, just as a rapid prototyping system.
It's easy once you get the hang of it.

Well, it sure isn't easy or rapid to learn how to use Blender but I'll do it someday...

Also the models for Donkey Kong Country games were 3D and were downscaled to sprites for the SNES.

by on (#42898)
I was actually thinking about my game and making it a little less unripoff-ish.

So despite my avatar for this site, I really don't think I'm going to do any Nintendoizations of CV graphics or music for my game. With that, these are the only things I would have to worry about for legal issues:

-ChateauLeVania (title)
-Hearts and Subweapons
-Progress map
-Candles
-Level up system (only a ripoff in combination with the other things)

All the story, artwork, music, map data, enemy data will be done by me. I have told people that my game will play pretty much just like CV SOTN, so I admit that it's kind of supposed to be a ripoff. I could easily change the title to "The Curse of Chateau LeVeaux", which is the name of the book that the game is based off of, but ChateauLeVania is just so damn perfect.

Could I get in trouble for having the same subweapons with candles that drop hearts which you use to power those? The level up system by now can't really belong specifically to CV. You kill enemies, gain experience, get better health and MP. So what's my uh, danger level of getting in trouble at this point?

by on (#42903)
You aren't going to get in trouble if you are creating all the stuff yourself. Unless you are ripping artwork/music or copying level layouts they can't do anything. You cannot copyright an idea. "Hearts and Subweapons" are an idea. Striking candles for powerups is an idea. Ninja Gaiden uses this idea too but the objects are not the same in every level. Experience leveling up is an idea.

The copyrighted works are like program code, artwork, music, level layout data in its exact form. The idea though of a platformer with various aspects can't be owned though. You could make your own platformer similar to Castlevania and as long as you don't steal any art or other such resources but make everything on your own, they can't do anything. They don't own Dracula, Frankenstein, Bats, Zombies, Castles, gothic stuff, etc. Just use common sense.

by on (#42906)
Quote:
The copyrighted works are like program code

Then you can't use the following code :
lda #$00
sta $2000
sta $2001

because it has been copirighted by Nintendo in 1983 when they released Donkey Kong oh the FC release day ? You'd have to wait 2053 so that the code falls into public domain and you can use it ?

@Celius : Your game sound a parody, and "ChateauLeVania" is a perfect title. You should definitely not do bland copy of graphics, level or stuff, but you definitely don't want to remove all reference to Castlevania else it won't be a Castlevania parody any longer and it will not be as fun. Just like they shaved Goku's hair off and removed all Dragon Ball references in "Dragon Power" for the USA version, it looks completely stupid.

And in some way any vido game that fratues EXP, levels, and stats (so almost every RPG in existance) could be a copiright infligrement to Dungeons & Dragons, if it weren't for what MottZilla said. So yeah, use common sense, and everything will be okay. Also if nothing gets commercial the change that you get in trouble or get sued probably decreases by 99% or so.

by on (#42927)
Yeah, I guess that makes sense. I will definitely be keeping hearts and subweapons then.

But say I wanted to have like an Axe Knight in my game. Is that too specific? It's an armored knight that's tall and throws axes at you. I guess the biggest concern would be calling it the "Axe Knight". A ghost knight that throws axes at you I guess isn't too out there to incorporate in my game.

I think my game is a bit more than just a parody. If my game were just a parody, it would just be funny and everything would be kind of a joke. Though the story is pretty preposterous, I do want to have some level of seriousness.

And also, I never had any intent on copying graphics from the NES CV games. I honestly think they look pretty bad in some spots (especially like the moss and annoying night blue sky in the background). I look at games like Batman ROTJ for inspiration (the graphics, besides being just completely amazing, remind me of circle of the moon somehow). The only other Nintendoizations I've done were from SOTN.

Another thing. What if I say openly that my game is supposed to be like CV? It sounds like a bad idea, I just want to be sure.

by on (#42931)
Bregalad wrote:
Quote:
The copyrighted works are like program code

Then you can't use the following code :
lda #$00
sta $2000
sta $2001

because it has been copirighted by Nintendo in 1983 when they released Donkey Kong oh the FC release day ? You'd have to wait 2053 so that the code falls into public domain and you can use it ?


- I guess he meant the entire program code, or we're in trouble with NSFs, SPCs and so on... :)

by on (#42933)
Algorithm copyright is stupid. Preventing people from doing a certain task in a certain way doesn't make any sense.

by on (#42948)
The amount of code will be a factor in copyright. 3 lines, not a problem. 100 lines, likely bad. NSFs, absolutely infringement.

For things like Axe Knight, you could look to other sources (D&D? board games?) to see if it was used first there or in common usage now. Or change the name a bit like Axe Murderer.

In general it sounds like you are clear, and you can certainly say yours is "in the CV style" or "reminiscent of CV", without saying it is a CV game.

by on (#42950)
@Celius : Sorry, but I really tought that would be a parody. "ChateauLeVania" really sounds like a parody. Altough it's an absolutely awesome title.

I don't see how BROJ could remind you Circle of the Moon. The only common point is the moving fog in the background that is somewhere in COTM I guess. But it's pretty much everywhere in modern 2D games, while at the time of BROJ it should have been awesome.

I agree with tokumaru that algorithm copiright does not make any sense. Altough on a full programm such a full video game, it's probably normal that the code is copyrighted, altough it's more the levels and artwork who would be bad to be copied more than the code.

by on (#42964)
Well my game is sort of a parody, but I don't really know that it's a direct parody of a game. In my book, which is written in first person, I talk about how "everything that's happening is so much like the video game Castlevania." So I'm making a Castlevania style game based around the events in the book. I don't know what you'd call that (partly funny, but mostly to people who will have read the book). It will be cool (hopefully) to everyone, and slightly humorous to people who read the book as well as cool.

Thanks for clearing all that up guys. I'll name my enemies with common sense and I'll keep the title "ChateauLeVania". I guess I won't have trouble keeping that, since Walmart can sell soda called "Mountain Thunder" instead of "Mountain Dew", though it's clearly supposed to taste the same. And besides, though there are skeletons, werewolves, vampires, etc. the story is completely different than CV games, and it actually takes place in 2001 (in an ancient castle, however). So thanks again :) .

by on (#42967)
Bregalad wrote:
Quote:
The copyrighted works are like program code

Then you can't use the following code :
lda #$00
sta $2000
sta $2001

because it has been copirighted by Nintendo in 1983 when they released Donkey Kong oh the FC release day ? You'd have to wait 2053 so that the code falls into public domain and you can use it ?


That falls into the category of trying to copyright a letter of the alphabet or copyright a word like Dog. You'd have to copy a sizable amount of code which can then clearly be identified as being stolen to stand much of a chance of getting in trouble. So hacking someone's game engine and selling your hack is copyright infringement. But looking at how they programmed some routine and then programming your own version, even if similar, is ok. But this is all pretty silly since no one is likely to be sued over a NES homebrew game unless it's clearly a ROM hack of a commercial game, no matter how in depth the hack may be.

by on (#42968)
Mott's covered most of this.

Disclaimer: the following is pretty specific to the US, I am not a lawyer, etc.

Copyright covers a particular implementation (an idea fixed in a tangible medium, such as a rom chip, hard drive, book, etc), patents cover a process or algorithm. The difference between the two is rather important -- copyright infringement requires access to the original work, if there is no access, there is no infringement; for patents, if someone has patented something, and you come up with something completely on your own that infringes, it doesn't matter if you knew about the patent or not.

Going further on the copyright issues, there is a further breakdown between the source code itself, and the actual rom image. Short of getting a copy of the source code, it is *highly* unlikely that anyone would be successfully sued for copyright infringement, due to the access requirements. For the rom images, not all elements of a work are copyrightable: facts, ideas, themes, and public domain content for instance. This is part of why Nintendo cannot sue anyone who makes a platformer involving a fellow jumping around to save a princess/girlfriend/etc from some giant antagonist. In addition, trivial portions of a work do not constitute misappropriation, and thus there is no infringement.

In the case of a rom image, small bits, especially ones where there is no other sane way to do something do not fall under copyright. Nor do common constructs such as loops, jump tables, etc; only the original elements. If this was not the case, every single C program ever written would infringe based on int main(int argc, char **argv) { ... }.

For the US, infringement involves three things, and the burden is on the plaintiff:

Proof of ownership of a valid copyright -- registration is not required, but it greatly improves one's chances of winning, and is usually required if one is looking for monetary damages.

Actual Copying -- This can be either direct, or indirect. If indirect, copying is inferred via a striking similarity between the two works, combined with access and use of the access.

Misappropriation -- The elements copied have to be protectible, and the intended audience would have to recognize the substantial similarities. There are a couple approaches used here, wikipedia has more details.

by on (#42982)
ReaperSMS wrote:
copyright infringement requires access to the original work, if there is no access, there is no infringement

But it's hard to take advantage of this defense. Case law has provided plenty of avenues for copyright owners to make a judge infer access, such as if the work was widely published. See Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music and Three Boys Music v. Michael Bolton for example. It doesn't matter if you consciously knew about the copyright or not.

by on (#44687)
Quote:
For the rom images, not all elements of a work are copyrightable: facts, ideas, themes, and public domain content for instance. This is part of why Nintendo cannot sue anyone who makes a platformer involving a fellow jumping around to save a princess/girlfriend/etc from some giant antagonist.


Actually, Nintendo did sue game companies for implementing game mechanism's similar to Super Mario Bros. This was the case for 2 C64 games: The Great Giana Sisters and Hard'n'Heavy.

by on (#44690)
1985 was over 20 years ago. For little fangames that anyone could possibly muster up over any medium, I highly doubt that they'll attract such a huge mob that it actually financially disrupts any of the commercial franchises they're based on. As such, there is *no* practical issue here, and likely never will be, to the point where worrying whether or not Nintendo is going to be breaking your door down for adding the Metroid powerup system to your game seems really ridiculous. :P

That's just my opinion though.

by on (#44696)
You guys need to stop mixing up 2 different issues: what could happen and what probably is going to happen.

Fact is, contrary to what the other poster said, they successfully sued other companies for copying their game mechanics. But not only Nintendo, the same issue came up when Activision, license holder of R-Type, sued Rainbow Arts over Katakis, also a game with similar mechanics. So in theory, it's not as simple as many people would like it to be.

The high probability that Nintendo won't sue any homebrew developer or seller is in no way a guarantee that what you do is legal. Just look at the NWC 1990 copies being made, which is a most blatant violation of copyright.

by on (#44697)
I agree with 6502freak above. Just because something bad CAN happen, is no indication that it will. I was TERRIFIED to release my clone for the longest time, until I realized the people I infringed upon would probably not even notice my game existed. Know what you're doing is illegal, certainly know the worst case scenario (getting sued), but if none of that scares you enough to deter you from making a clone/fan game (it should at least make you think twice about it), go on ahead.

If you decide to go on ahead, you should still look into how "cool" the company is gonna be with your game existing. If there are any incidents you can find of other fan game creators getting a cease and desist or finding themselves in legal trouble making a game that infringes on the rights of the same game or series you're planning on making, then make sure you weigh that into your decision. If other similar fan games exist, and nothing has happened to them you should feel a little safer. This doesn't mean you can't be the first, only that I believe it's less likely.


Short version: The absolute worst that can happen is getting sued. It is up to the creator of the fan game to decide how likely this case is, and if they should go on ahead with the distribution of the game. It is my opinion that most likely nothing will happen depending on which company's rights you're infringing upon, but it is a fact that the rights holders ALWAYS have the option of taking the fan game creator to court. It is the fan game creator who's on the line, and so they must make the judgment as to whether or not they can accept that possibility.

Edit: And in case the company in question sees this post, and take it the wrong way, I have to say that I am now and have always been perfectly willing to stop distribution of my game.

Edit2: Rewording. Blargg makes a good point. These edits are the best compromise I can make, since I do not want the post to read as if nothing can EVER happen, but neither do I want it to read as though I personally believe it's likely. I hope I've achieved this in my post. If I haven't, let me know.

by on (#44698)
Also Nintendo is the kind of company that usually warns......and doesnt sue until you dont stop. Example here locally some guys were selling pirated ds games. First they got a cease and deceise (or however its called) letter and then they continued. Not until they continued did they get sued.

by on (#44699)
I'm actually impressed that Nintendo only cease and desisted in that case. Selling pirated DS games is a whole different thing than making a fan game. That solidifies my opinion that Nintendo is pretty cool about stuff like this.

by on (#44700)
Kasumi wrote:
Chances are pretty high that the absolute WORST thing that will happen to you (especially this community making NES games) is you'll get a cease and desist and you'll have to stop distributing your game.

I just want to note that "absolute worst" is the absolute worst that can happen. That would be Nintendo nuking you from orbit (since it's the only way to be sure). What you describe is not the absolute worst. Merely getting a cease-and-desist would be about the best outcome, aside from not getting bothered. Sure, it means your game has to have those elements removed, but you lose nothing aside from the time you wasted incorporating copyrighted elements into your game.

EDIT: direct link to Alien quote, in case nobody got it

by on (#44701)
So if Tetris v. BioSocia succeeds, despite eight of the claimed "distinctive trade dress" items being present in Nintendo's Dr. Mario Online Rx, how best should I excise the offending elements from, say, Tetramino? Or should I just get started on a completely different game engine immediately?

by on (#44703)
tepples wrote:
So if Tetris v. BioSocia succeeds, despite eight of the claimed "distinctive trade dress" items being present in Nintendo's Dr. Mario Online Rx, how best should I excise the offending elements from, say, Tetramino? Or should I just get started on a completely different game engine immediately?


The Tetris Company has a reputation of aggressive behaviour against people implementing the Tetris idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetris_Company

Same for First Star Software and Boulderdash: they have a harsh zero-tolerance attitude against homebrew variants of Boulderdash. That's the reason why the Atari 2600 port was cancelled.

by on (#44704)
6502freak wrote:
Same for First Star Software and Boulderdash: they have a harsh zero-tolerance attitude against homebrew variants of Boulderdash. That's the reason why the Atari 2600 port was cancelled.

Yet nobody touched Crystal Mines, Exodus, or Joshua.

So what's the best way to proceed if someone cease-and-desists the core of your project's gameplay?

by on (#44705)
tepples wrote:
6502freak wrote:
Same for First Star Software and Boulderdash: they have a harsh zero-tolerance attitude against homebrew variants of Boulderdash. That's the reason why the Atari 2600 port was cancelled.

Yet nobody touched Crystal Mines, Exodus, or Joshua.

So what's the best way to proceed if someone cease-and-desists the core of your project's gameplay?


Well, either design a different game, or prepare for a legal battle. I guess most people would prefer choice #1.

Which again brings us to: how big is the probability that some company will check a homebrew game made for an obsolete game system for IP infringement. I guess no one can answer that. In the case of First Star Software, they are pretty much aware of the homebrew retro scene.

EDIT: perhaps that might be interesting to you: http://abednarz.net/wp/34/

Perhaps you should change the name "Tetramino" into something else, not resembling the name "Tetris".

by on (#44708)
blargg wrote:
What you describe is not the absolute worst..


Quite true. But I said that chances are high that the cease and desist will be the worst that will happen, not that it IS the worst that can happen. If it's desired I'll edit my post to make what I was saying more clear. I don't want to mislead people into doing something stupid, but neither do I want to scare them from doing something where there may not be a consequence at all.

edit: Though on second thought blargg makes a fair point. I am changing my post.

by on (#44713)
So I may end up having to make a different game. In this case, how can I not waste the work that I've already done?

by on (#44715)
^ hidden minigame?

by on (#44730)
tepples wrote:
So I may end up having to make a different game. In this case, how can I not waste the work that I've already done?


haha, just stop bro! Your game is fine, and doesn't have to be buried, and you know it : P

But, on the topic of IPs and all that jazz, I don't see why it should be an issue, honestly. If you're not wanting to make your own IPs and have your own stories, then what's the point of developing your own game? That doesn't really make much sense to me, but hey, different strokes for different folks!

To me, the thrill of programming isn't _just_ learning how to do more on the system we program for, but also planning things from your imagination. So honestly, I don't see the draw to doing programs with characters that one didn't create :/ It almost reminds me of being a cover band or something...
Kevtris Hatches the Egg
by on (#44852)
Roth wrote:
tepples wrote:
In this case, how can I not waste the work that I've already done?

haha, just stop bro! Your game is fine, and doesn't have to be buried, and you know it : P

Just ask Kevtris. (No, not that Kevtris.) I just want an idea for what else I can do with a graphics and physics engine designed for falling block puzzle games.

Quote:
But, on the topic of IPs and all that jazz, I don't see why it should be an issue, honestly. If you're not wanting to make your own IPs and have your own stories, then what's the point of developing your own game?

Tell that to Disney, who for decades made cel-animated films based on loose adaptations of public domain stories. Case in point: Its films Pinocchio and The Jungle Book came out literally a year after the original work's copyright expired in US+UK+Canada.

Roth wrote:
It almost reminds me of being a cover band or something...

Then we need to make it easier for 2D pixel artists and 6502 programmers to find each other.