I want to make a game based on a copyrighted book. It's not about recreating it strictly with all details, but rather about building something new around the general idea (possibly incorporating some concepts from other books by the same author).

I don't want any copyright infrigement or plagiarism problems. How far can I move with "borrowing" concepts from the original story? Will it be fine to:

  • set the action in the same universe? (possibly changing character names etc)
  • use the same general concept (rather unique one), but with my own plot?
  • let the player choose one of many story threads, one of which will be the original one?
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, it's probably closer to this: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/712/… \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Feb 15 '13 at 0:30
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ We're not lawyers. Asking us this question is like asking us to diagnose Lupus. Pay a lawyer for advice. Never ask the Internet for legal advice. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 15 '13 at 0:51

The safest way to avoid ANY "copyright infringement or plagiarism problems" is to NOT base your game on any other person's creative work.

By "problems" I'm including the hassle of responding to an allegation that your work infringes theirs---even if, according to the laws of what ever country your working in---it doesn't. A helpful rule of thumb is: if the original work is at all recognizable in yours, someone will probably think you're infringing and may make an issue of it. Reproducing the original story thread, or setting your action in the original author's universe is pretty likely to raise a red flag.

"General Concept" is a pretty vague term. If general enough ie. "a protagonist and his or her rag-tag gang of accomplices fight against an evil galactic empire/wizard/high-school principle for freedom and justice using magic spells/mutant powers/zany pranks" then you're probably within your rights to try a new variation on an old theme. Obviously this entails creating your own story.

If you have any serious plans to share your game with the public (commercially or otherwise) the only responsible thing to do is seek permission from the copyright holder. Anything else is likely to attract some form of copyright "problem".


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.