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How closely can a game resemble another game without legal problems

Can I use remade sprites in my game?

I am making a game and I used some sprites, but I didn't copy them. I remade them completely the character looks nothing like the original. I only did this to get the movement of the character right (moving, running, jumping, punching). I've been working on the game for a long time, so I really need to know is it safe and legal to do this. I do intend making a small profit.

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marked as duplicate by Byte56, Jonathan Hobbs, Maik Semder, Nicol Bolas, Josh Petrie Oct 12 '12 at 16:14

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So, you didn't copy it but used the exact same animation as an existing character? That's a tough question. Obviously, a character that looks the same would likely infringe copyright, but I don't know if you can copyright animations/moves themselves. I guess most answers here will be IANAL, so your only way to be sure would be to consult a lawyer who knows such things. Why don't you alter the moves, so it isn't as obvious? If your actual character really doesn't look anything like the original, just have him move slightly different so that it fits him and you should be all set. –  Christian Oct 11 '12 at 11:30
    
Thank you very much for your advice. Yes I think it shouldn't be too hard to make him move a bit different. –  John Skridles Oct 11 '12 at 11:44
    
You can 'steal' or 'borrow' an idea. If you only use an idea of an animation, and copy how the character moves, it's OK. But if you take some asset, let's say positions of ankles, elbows and other joints of a skeleton per every frame, made by another person, and used it to animate your sprites, you still use other person's work and need his permission to do so. –  Markus von Broady Oct 11 '12 at 14:22
    
thank you very much for the information. I don't want any trouble so I think I'll make my own sprites. –  John Skridles Oct 11 '12 at 14:51

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I do not think you will be sued. Especially if you are making a small game with profits that are too marginal to interest the big companies in the business.

My advice is not proper legal advice and is purely based on history and my experience.

Look at this famous Street Fighter character:

http://streetfighter.wikia.com/wiki/Dan

It is well known that it is a parody of characters from SNK and there is a long story behind it yet no lawsuit was ever made. It is very hard to prove a case like this. In your situation where the game I'm guessing is a small indie game, the chances of the 'theft' (inspiration) being detected is unlikely and the chance for it to be reported are even lower. Now think why would they sew someone they cannot make any reasonable profit from for something this ridicules, it will only serve to put them in a bad light.

Here is another example:

Abobo's Big Adventure

This is an indie game based entirely on a stolen character and proud of it.

Another example would be dozens of games with adult content that use famous characters like Peach without proper authorization.

The likelihood of you getting sued before all those people is lower than getting zapped by lighting in a sunny day.

If you are still concerned, apply the old saying: copying from one source is stealing, copying from multiple sources is research.

This is not legal advice. I still think I make some good points. Good luck with your game and choice you make is your own responsibility.

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