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After seeing the comments on selling an idea to developer for a game, the general concencus is that without a game, or atleast a demo, it’s not going to happen. So…someone (yes, Noctrine, I am looking at you) suggested that it might me an interesting idea to turn it into a “public” project.

A few people have asked if I minded if they turned some of my concepts into models, something I always have agreed on. They tell me that it would be to use as work for their portfolio or for practice. Still waiting on those, but that is another story.

If I do this, set up a group to help starting modelers and programmers practice or get stuff for their portfolio, after everything is said and done, who has ownership of the project. I ask in case we end up with an actual demo and a studio get’s interested. Who do they buy it from?

I have no issue with paying accordingly to all participants, but in the legal aspect, who owns it before a publisher buys it?

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When I said public, I meant it in the sense of "Don't close the doors to your design process, let people see what your doing as your doing it" Not make it a full on Community Project. :p –  Noctrine Aug 23 '10 at 13:21
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See, And I thought I was the one getting lost in translation. lol –  Arquitecto Colo García-Padilla Aug 23 '10 at 17:16
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4 Answers

I-am-not-a-lawyer but, my two-cents.

Atleast in the United States, without a formal transfer of copyright each developer would own the work that they do. This is usually accomplished in the Employment Contract when you are hired by a company:

See Works made for hire

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Generally, if a work features contributions from more than one person and is a generally indivisible whole, joint copyright exists. This means any one of those people can veto copying of the work, which is often not what you want.

For this reason, it's best to explicitly state that this will not be the case, via some sort of agreement. eg. Along the lines of, "I grant the project and future users of the project a perpetual and non-exclusive right to use my contributions as part of this work." But that makes no provision for payment either. If you want people to contribute work in exchange for actual or potential payment then you'll need to write that in as well.

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What noctrine said. But if you aren't an employee, anything you write is covered by copyright. Software is transfered when you grant a license to the users.

When there isn't a license, it's like having a verbal contract-- sometimes possible to enforce, sometimes not, and who know what the terms are or how the court might treat it.

So you will want to read your contracts and licenses, and if they don't exist, get your collaborators to set them up.

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I can't remember the project, but I know one open source project managed to give all ownership of code over to the original devs by having certain terms and conditions that took effect whenever someone committed code to the source control repository. In that case, there was a big uproar when those devs ended up selling said source to a commercial company, and all the tens of contributing devs got nothing. I'm pretty sure this is a viable strategy as well, but I would make any contributing member aware of whatever terms you are putting forth, to avoid bad blood getting developed...

(also IANAL)

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