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I'm making a mobile game and I've gotten by with completely free art assets so far, but I have an explosion from metal slug. I love it and it's perfect, but I don't want to get sued. I've seen metal slug art assets posted around the internet on various clip art websites, but haven't found any statements outright saying they're free to use in one's own commercial application.

Could someone show me a link saying whether or not metal slug assets are free to use?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If I were in your position, while I finish your game I would already get in contact with the company that owns the rights in order to have a definitive answer, considering that companies sometimes take time to answer. \$\endgroup\$ – MAnd Nov 20 '15 at 7:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Especially because it is SNK and japanese companies don't understand english so it'll take even more time. not only that, but they have a very very rigid culture regarding copyrights and licenses which guarantee you a 0% chance of approval. You'd be better off if SNK bankrupted but they're still alive, fat chance. the US mailbox: info-usa@snkplaymore.co.jp \$\endgroup\$ – v.oddou Nov 20 '15 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @v.oddou is correct. Take a look at the Nintendo example I cited in another answer I gave a few days ago regarding copyrights: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/111497/… You should never risk when you are finally publishing the game you've put so much effort in. \$\endgroup\$ – MAnd Nov 20 '15 at 9:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Can I use a no longer protected by copyrights game's sprites? \$\endgroup\$ – Alexandre Vaillancourt Nov 20 '15 at 12:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @v.oddou "You'd be better off if SNK bankrupted" this is completely wrong. If they go bankrupt, their assets (including their IPs) go to someone else whether it is a bank which will eventually sell it or another game company that would like to surf on the franchise success. Don't assume that a dead company's assets are free to use, they're most probably not. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexandre Vaillancourt Nov 20 '15 at 13:01
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The internet is full of copyright violations. Just because you see people posting 3rd party art assets doesn't mean that they are allowed to.

You might wonder "but they didn't get sued, why should I"?

Maybe SNK hasn't found out about the copyright violation yet. Maybe they can not locate the violator. Maybe it's not worth their time because the violators don't have any money. Maybe the paperwork is already on the way. But whatever the reason why that website is still online, you have no guarantee that these reasons also apply to you. SNK can decide who to sue and who to let go for violating their copyright.

The only way to be sure that an asset is safe to use is when you made it yourself. Even so-called "free" assets you find on websites can be dangerous because it happens all the time that people upload ripped assets to such websites (some people are even so audacious that they add an own copyright notice). When you hire artists to create assets for you, you should insist on a guarantee in the contract that their work does not violate 3rd party copyrights and that they take liability for that. I experienced it before that an "artist" tried to sneak ripped sprites into a project I took part in.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ they could also decide that the usage of their IP in a certain light brings publicity to the original product. \$\endgroup\$ – v.oddou Nov 24 '15 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @v.oddou this is a common argument made by copyright violators which usually does not help much in court. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Nov 24 '15 at 8:59

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