I personally will be skipping this months as I have so much else on that I'm trying to get running, so I'll be watching on with envy at the entries.
I'm sure this is somehow obvious to everyone else, but ... I help with a "fansite" for a popular games app. It's mostly forums really, and very small at the moment, and no money changes hands. Yet we had a close call because a logo appeared on the site. No one cares about that, it wasn't a big deal, but it's why copyrights and related miscellania are on my mind right now.
I get the whole "copyright" thing, in a very basic way. But I'm more.. old school (think pre-internet). If you didn't make something, it's not yours. Right? But then there's this whole "Creative Commons"/"Expired Copyright" thing... and something else that allows you to play with other people's stuff if you don't profit from it... and... I don't get it.
ANYway. I had two ideas for games, and I nixed them, because someone else owns the source. 1) A boardgame "Race for Space Mountain" that's basically a (simplified) map of Disney, with challenges like your mom dragging you through "It's a Small World" or getting scared in the Haunted mansion. 2) A board game version of "Rise of Nations".
Now, the MAIN reason I'm not doing either of those is, well, I don't have the "skillz". :p I wouldn't even know how to begin. BUT... the excuse I gave myself was that those things belong to other people. Rise of Nations belongs to Big Huge Games, and Disney belongs to, well, Disney. I think. So I can't mess with them.
And then I saw the (as of yet, only) entry, which is a new version of Risk. Now, maybe it's because Risk has been around forever, right? And then I start browsing the internet, and apparently, there's all kinds of people doing similar things with every kind of game/movie/book you can think of.
So... I don't understand.
Is it a matter of the age of the product/copyright? Is it okay as long as you change it *enough*? Is it acceptable if you don't make a profit? Would my game ideas be acceptable? (I'm not going to make them, but if someone else wanted to...) What's the difference between designing the game and posting it on a public forum, or trying to market it for sale?
I *did* try searching the forums, and some "legal stuff for dummies" type articles, but I still don't get it. And I didn't know where else to post this, since this is the challenge that confused me...
Anyway, if someone could help me figure this out, I'd be grateful. :) (or move my post if it doesn't belong here?)
(I am not a lawyer and I also do not take any responsibility for the consequences of this advice)
I've seen, if you have a project that violates copyrights but isn't commercial, then the worst you can expect is a cease&desist letter that will ask you to stop distributing your project. If it's a personal project anyway (or for your friends), then that shouldn't be a problem.
Disney has infamously vicious lawyers ( snopes.com: Daycare Center Murals ), you shouldn't try luck with Disney.
It's a matter of, does the copyright owner notice your violation of his copyrights and does he bother to get involved. One image in some forum post with 3 replies is obviously below such a threshold.
About Rise of Nations, I thinke there is no problem doing it. If you turn it into a board game you may call it a "demake"(Video game remake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
And I can`t think of anything unique to it, it`s a game about history. But if you are taling about Rise of Legends it does have some unique settings, but nothing that stops you from doing personal stuff.
So.... let me see if I understand this...
For purposes of, say, a fun little forum contest in which the game/book/blurb/whatever isn't going to go anywhere, you don't really need to worry about copyright stuff in individual posts. Unless:
1) The people who own the original material ask you to stop.
Or 2) It's something Disney, because their lawyers will devour your soul and steal your firstborn child. (See, I know how to read between the lines).
If you get a letter saying take it down, you take it down, if not, nbd.
If the person who copyrighted it has been dead for 70 years, anyone can use it however.
Uh... could someone, then, once it's been 70 years, use the material (with or without significant changes) and file for a new copyright?
Also... Can a *company* hold a copyright? If so does it ever expire?
Finally, in terms of the contest... things like Risk, or even Rise of Nations reworks are okay (but stay away from Disney for the reasons above.) ?
Did I get it right? :)
These are murky waters.
I really have no idea what the copyright owners of RISK can or can't do. But I am pretty sure that-
1. you can't copyright a word that has been in the English language for 100s of years just because you want to (Microsoft tried this with the word "Windows" and lost).
2. you cant copyright game mechanics. That is, how the game components (the cards, the dice, the movement of the pieces) interact.
So the copyright for RISK would most probably cover the text of the rules and the graphical presentation of the map. If the work is too "dirivative" then you (me?) could be in trouble. But if I re-write the rules, changing and adding into them, and if my map is different enough (how much is enough), then I am OK.
But really, this is never going beyond me printing it out and trying it, so the chances of it ever coming to anyones attention is miniscule.
Hi there :)
So... "Monopoly" can copyright their game, but not the use of the word "Monopoly"? I didn't know Microsoft tried that. That's fun info. :p
Actually, it makes more sense that way. There's tons of books with REALLY similar titles, by different authors, (and often, very similar storylines/characters) so it makes sense that other forms of media would be the same way.
And I didn't mean to single out your entry, lol, it was simply the only entry (and what got me started thinking) and I didn't know how else to explain what I was wondering. I'm sorry if that upset you in anyway, and thanks for helping with your explanation. :D
Now if I could convince someone to do my rise of nations idea... (Since I would have no idea how to begin, lol)
Anyway, thanks again, everyone!