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I want to learn what legal constraints are on the copyrighted material.

If I want to make a Quidditch (the fictional game in Harry Potter series) game, should I pay some kind of copyright to the book's writer? Where can I learn about these things, without being a lawyer :) ?

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closed as off-topic by MichaelHouse Mar 6 '15 at 5:51

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    \$\begingroup\$ Without being a lawyer? I'd ask a lawyer. Now, IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that copyright covers the entire work, including any games invented for the work and described within. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason Pineo Sep 13 '13 at 2:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking maybe it just covers the story, but not a game built on that story? But there are quidditch games too, so you are 99% right :) But I want to make it. What should I do ? \$\endgroup\$ – jeff Sep 13 '13 at 2:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm pretty sure you can't call it Quidditch or use any of the other terms, character names, or visual designs from Harry Potter. Doesn't matter if you're making a game, writing a book, or carving a Snitch out of soap. But you could probably make a game where players fly around and try to put a ball through a hoop and/or chase down a flying ball while being attacked by other flying balls...as long as you don't say it's Quidditch and it doesn't look too similar to the Harry Potter movies. \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Reed Sep 13 '13 at 2:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ possible duplicate of Legal issues for a "fangame" of a commercial franchise? \$\endgroup\$ – congusbongus Sep 13 '13 at 2:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ The canonical example of 'game adapted from another media's depiction of a game is probably the light cycles from Tron; there have been a small stack of 'clones' of that gameplay (some from the videogame version, but as many from the film's take on it) over the years. That said - this is a canonical 'check a lawyer, but if you have to ask it's probably a bad idea' question. \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Stadnicki Sep 13 '13 at 3:08
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You can't copyright ideas or game mechanics. That much should be obvious from the number of "clone" games around. So you can make a game that exactly followed Quidditch rules without much worry.

Use of copyrighted material (whole chunks of Harry Potter's text explaining the rules of Quidditch, for example) is generally not possible without the copyright owner's permission.

Use of small snippets of copyrighted material (the name "Quidditch", for example) is a grey area. Possibly it would be OK because of "fair use" exceptions, but it would depend on jurisdictions and how willing either side is to file/defend a lawsuit. Also Quidditch might be trademarked - which is separate from copyright and would bring in a whole new set of legal complexity. You should probably consult a lawyer if you plan on entering this territory.

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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 This is dangerously wrong advice. Fictional characters and places and such are protected by copyright. Things that maybe can't be copyrighted are often trademarked. The Fair Use defense is potentially invalid for something like co-opting the game of Quidditch, too: madisonian.net/2007/02/07/quidditch-and-copyright \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Middleditch Sep 13 '13 at 5:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sean: It appears you haven't read my answer at all. Nowhere do I say that such things are not copyrighted. I point out that it's a grey area to use copyrighted material in areas that may or may not be counted as fair use, which any lawyer will tell you is correct. I also point out that trademark law may also apply. So every one of your criticisms appears to be invalid. \$\endgroup\$ – mikera Sep 13 '13 at 8:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ People keep trying to wiggle around arguing that their game is "fair use"; admittedly we don't know the specifics of what he has in mind to create, but an entire videogame of Quidditch is almost certainly not "fair use"; simply using Quidditch as a humorous side-quest would be closer to the mark. \$\endgroup\$ – jhocking Aug 19 '14 at 12:51

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