Will I get a copyright strike or something if I use a picture of a weapon and the name of it? (e.g. a shop where you can buy guns, AK-47 with the pic)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Do you need a license for weapon models? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Nov 29, 2015 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Philipp I myself also thought about that other question you link, before answering to this one. I did answer this one, however, because the accepted answer in the question you link is quite superficial and the main link it provides is offline. Still, good that you pointed to that question since the current OP can expand his/her research on the topic. \$\endgroup\$
    – MAnd
    Nov 29, 2015 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is nothing unique or special about weapons compared to any other product in that if the product's name is protected with copyright or trademark (and most commercial products are) then there's a chance that said owner of copyright or trademark may not like your use of their product's name. \$\endgroup\$
    – DA.
    Nov 30, 2015 at 0:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for will you get... a notice from said property owners, it's impossible to say. \$\endgroup\$
    – DA.
    Nov 30, 2015 at 0:17

2 Answers 2


You most certainly can get into legal issues in the US. Weapons names are often trademarked and their appearance could be copyrighted (there is a difference between trademarking and copyrighting. See here http://newmediarights.org/guide/legal/Video_Games_law_Copyright_Trademark_Intellectual_Property). Recent debate about it has been growing recently, though.

EA had either paid or made agreements for the right to use real weapons in their games for years, until recently they decided to stop doing so, invoking the First Ammendment of the US Constitution. They have claimed that "We're telling a story and we have a point of view. A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example". See full article about that here: http://kotaku.com/ea-wont-be-paying-for-real-guns-in-video-games-anymore-494940003

However, such decision followed after they were taken to court by a helicopter makerfor using their helicopter models without autorizathion. And regarding this process EA quickly settled an arrangement to stop the judicial struggle: http://kotaku.com/ea-ends-first-amendment-claim-to-use-real-world-helicop-1159651214 Which means, they gave up on part of their claim.

Of course that for the companies that make weapons, their use in a major game can bee sen actually as free advertisement. So instead of monetary compensation, sometimes agreements can be put in place. See: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/07/videogames-guns-idUSL2N0CS2A220130507

So, as you can see, the common practice has been to need to be granted the right to use copyrighted and/or trademarked licenses for using real weapons in games. Therefore, before there are noticeable changes in the judicial interpretation about it in the future (if it ever happens at all), it is good to take precaution.

That is often said to be the reason why so many games only go for very generic names of weapons and the descriptions of their details.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and since here were are mostly programmers, most people here won't have the technical expertise for a fully detailed technical answer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I can second this from my experience working on a military shooter. Some weapons & manufacturers we had negotiated permission to use exactly (occasionally with some restrictions). Other weapons in the game were given fictionalized names and appearances so they don't exactly match any real-world product. Not unlike Nuka-Cola verus Coca-Cola in Fallout games. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Nov 29, 2015 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DMGregory Thanks for bringing your personal example. I myself have seen similar things as well. Also, I also have seen negotiations getting the permission to use the copyrighted model or the trademarked names, because it can kind of be free advertisement for the weapon (or whatever) companies. Although, of course, that is an argument easier for big game companies to sell. \$\endgroup\$
    – MAnd
    Nov 29, 2015 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ It depends a lot on context too. Your product being used by the hero might be a good advertisement. Your product being used by the villains, or a morally-ambiguous character the player can steer either way, might not be the kind of promotion a company is looking for. Especially when the product itself is deadly. :/ \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Nov 29, 2015 at 20:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ IANAL, but this doesn't seem right: "And regarding this process EA quickly settled an arrangement to stop the judicial struggle....Which means, they gave up on part of their claim." From the linked article: "Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the latest filing on the lawsuit, but the case was dismissed with prejudice, which means it can't be brought again." This seems to mean that we can't really infer much of anything. It could just be they thought that the cost of settling the lawsuit would be less than the cost of fighting it (even if they thought they would ultimately win). \$\endgroup\$
    – Dennis
    Nov 30, 2015 at 4:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis Maybe you are right. At that time I read other stuff related to the case that made it seem that they dropped the very claim about freedom of speech, but since my memory is not my best feature (to be kind to myself), I won't argue on that. Still, they gave up on a claim that would be big enough to change the industry - and make their own lives quite cheaper. And one they could not bring again in the same terms. So, to say the least, they thought that was not enough a gain and, therefore, even them gave up on changing that for now. Which is what matters most for the case here. \$\endgroup\$
    – MAnd
    Nov 30, 2015 at 4:34

I think they are, even if they are not because of they are trade marks (usually marked with TM), it may cause problems if you sell your game with these names in it.

Thus most games use names that reminds of original, like "fanas", instead of "famas".

Disclaimer: These informations are not legal advice or equivalent. You should ask a lawyer for a legal advice. I'm not responsible for any damage caused by this answer.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, same applies to anime. Instead of having characters search in Google, they search using "Goodle" (you see it rarely but in a couple of scenes). \$\endgroup\$
    – Lucien
    Nov 29, 2015 at 16:05

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