I am considering making a video game music quiz game, where you guess the game that the music is taken from. For example from NES and SNES games.

In that regard I was wondering if anyone know of any legal issues this might have. Could I for example limit the music playback to 'X' seconds without any legal repercussions?

Seeing that these are really old games, who actually owns the licenses to the music now? For example for games made by developers that no longer exist?

Also, if I would provide screenshots from the games in question, would that be a legal issue as well?


My thoughts was not to copy gameplay elements from the games, but to create a game consisting of a quiz on music from other games. So the games wont be similar to the games that the music is from at all.

Examples of this type of game:

If using the music from other games is a violation, are these games violating the copyright?


1 Answer 1


I am not a lawyer, so do not take this as legal advise. When you want to undertake this project, consult a lawyer who knows about your local copyright laws.

But according to my layman's knowledge of copyright, that would most definitely be a copyright violation. When the piece of media is long enough to recognize it, it is long enough to sue about it.

The company no longer existing does not make it safe either. When a company is liquidated, the intellectual property rights are usually sold to other companies which can then sue on their behalf. Such deals are not always made public, so finding out the actual copyright holder can be difficult in many cases.

You might be able to use a fair use defense in courts in some jurisdictions, but such lawsuits are civil, and in civil lawsuits you need to pay the lawyer to defend yourself upfront. So it's not just about being right, it's about being right and having the money to afford proving it. Ask your lawyer about how much capital you should keep on hand to cover future lawsuits.

Regarding your update: Yes, these games are very likely copyright violations. The copyright holders might not have sued them (yet) because they either haven't noticed that these games exist, can not identify the author (for examle when it's published under a pseudonym) or consider it not worth pursuing because the author doesn't seem to have the money which would make it worth a lawsuit (their lawyers also want money upfront, and when the defendant can't pay them, then the coyright holder won't get that money back). Copyright holders can decide which violations they want to pursue. So just because someone else does it doesn't mean you should do it too.


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