Questions tagged [legal]

As a business, game development is fraught with legal concerns and issues, especially on copyright, terms of service, and licensing fronts.

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153 votes
11 answers
58k views

How closely can a game legally resemble another?

Most games build on other games' successes and many are downright clones. Where is the limit of imitation before legal issues come into play? Is it down to literary or graphic work like characters and ...
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68 votes
5 answers
12k views

Making an indie with friends: Legal considerations

I am close to finishing a game I am making with 3 friends. 1 other coder, and 2 graphic designers. We agreed from the start to split revenue (40/40/10/10). However we have no contract, and I know ...
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  • 1,863
61 votes
11 answers
23k views

Why is account sharing so bad?

In games where you have to use an account to sign in or otherwise authenticate yourself (e.g MMO games), it is often prohibited to share your account with other people. For example in the World of ...
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44 votes
7 answers
9k views

Licensing (or similar) for my fan-game?

For the past 8 years, I've been working on a Pokémon fan-game. It's been awesome, well-received by players, and I'm very proud of the community we've built. But, as with all things "fan-game", there's ...
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39 votes
6 answers
35k views

Is it legally possible to make a clone of the game?

With board games like "Monopoly", "Domino", "Checkers", or "Chess", can game developers make clones and sell them? Also, can I make a clone of ZX Spectrum games? Are there many parts of the game with ...
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37 votes
7 answers
11k views

What makes MMOs with real-money economies legal?

I beieve most MMOs with an in-game currency tied to a real-world currency (e.g. Guild Wars 2's gems or Eve's PLEX) do not allow in-game items to be traded back into real cash for a bunch of reasons—...
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36 votes
2 answers
30k views

Is Tetris public domain? [closed]

is the concept for Tetris in the public domain or is there someone who is still collecting royalties on the concept? I mean, if I were to write a variant of Tetris would I owe somebody some money? ...
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33 votes
6 answers
83k views

Can I legally remove the default Unity splash screen by removing it from the APK?

While using Unity I export an Android game as an APK. When the APK is run, the first thing that is displayed is the Unity splash screen. I worked out that I could replaced that image by opening the ...
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33 votes
4 answers
8k views

Legal issues for a "fangame" of a commercial franchise? [duplicate]

I've played around in the past of the 2D Flash fan-made version of the popular Valve game Portal. It has basically the exact same mechanics, but as a 2D side-view flash game. Lately I've toyed ...
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30 votes
4 answers
2k views

Can I run into legal issues with random names?

I'm currently building a game whose NPC's are going to be assigned a random gender and a random name for the right gender. To do this I will be using a "database" of names (actually a text file with ...
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27 votes
9 answers
6k views

Can I include a public domain book in my game?

Just for fun, I want to include a bookshelf in my game with a real book (or few) that you can actually read. Would I run into any legal trouble if I included an out of print book in the public domain,...
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25 votes
5 answers
36k views

Can I use popular classical music as my game's soundtrack?

Can I use popular classical music in my game as a soundtrack? I'm concerned about copyright protection. I don't plan to make money off of my game. Will I break some law if I do that?
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  • 439
24 votes
1 answer
6k views

How can I create an exclusive asset for multiple clients who all want basically the same thing?

This is more of a legal question than for example a coding question, but I hope that it's allowed as well. I recently started working as a freelance VFX Artist and do a lot of work with shaders and ...
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  • 460
20 votes
3 answers
7k views

Am I allowed to sell a XNA game by myself?

I've just started the development of an XNA game, and I'm asking myself if it wouldn't be better to use an open-source alternative since I absolutely want to keep the complete control over my game. I ...
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19 votes
2 answers
4k views

Can I legally sell an XNA game made with Visual C# Express Edition?

I've dowloaded Visual C# Express Edition and when it starts up it says "for evaluation purposes only." What does this mean? Does this mean I have to buy the full version to legally sell my game I ...
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19 votes
4 answers
13k views

Set up indie game studio (UK) - how?

I am UK based and am looking to set up my own game studio - essentially, just myself working from home, looking to build casual game apps. I want to ask you guys what steps or process i need to go ...
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18 votes
1 answer
2k views

How do we keep ourselves from being sued for unknown patent infringements?

There's breaking news about Zynga being sued over some very obvious implementations. This is making me think that the game industry is full of landmines to be stepped on at every turn. What input does ...
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  • 283
18 votes
5 answers
633 views

What are the implications of not owning the IP of a character graphic in my game?

I'm currently talking with a design studio for the artworks of my game. They are saying they want to still own the IP of their chracter graphic in my game as they want to sell merchandise with my ...
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  • 521
18 votes
2 answers
3k views

Where can I Find Free TOS or Privacy Policy Templates?

I've come to the point in development where I think I should take care of some of the "cover my butt" things. In particular, I'm looking for free samples or templates for "terms of service/use" and "...
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17 votes
1 answer
54k views

Is it legal to sell or monetize games created with the Unity 3D free edition?

Is it okay to use Unity 3D programming and gaming software to create mobile game apps for Android and iOS? I am using a free version of Unity 3D and planning it to sell my current game app I've ...
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17 votes
1 answer
1k views

Process of getting DEJUS rating (Brazil)?

I would like to get DEJUS rating for my HTML5 game on the Firefox Marketplace, so that I can tell Mozilla to make the game available to users in Brazil. I want the game to be rated as: Livre (general) ...
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17 votes
4 answers
12k views

What resources can I use to determine if the name of my game violates any copyrights or trademarks?

I'm a indie/hobbyist game developer. How do I check that I'm not infringing any copyrights or trademarks when I release my game? I'm not making megabucks so it's not financially feasible to get ...
16 votes
2 answers
1k views

Am I liable if my game damages someone's computer?

Do i really have to tell somewhere in my game documents that "there is no warranty for this software for any damage" etc? I see it a lot in almost every program, if not all, but is it really necessary,...
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15 votes
4 answers
10k views

Can and should a game design be patented? [closed]

I have an idea for a game that I want to develop and I feel is unique, and I'm wondering if I should patent it. I read on the web that games can be patented, but just because it can be done doesn't ...
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  • 267
15 votes
5 answers
3k views

How do I protect my rights to my game on the web?

My small games all have different gameplay. I want to showcase them through the internet. However, I'm worried about them and their concepts getting copied. How can I protect them? Also, if I have ...
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15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Must know legal issues when releasing a game?

Alright, some day in the far future I would love to independently release my own game. My question is, what is the minimum amount of familiarity I need with copyright law, software patents, and other ...
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15 votes
1 answer
461 views

Where can I find legal or business resources for a game production company?

Where can I find information on the legal or business aspects of running a game production company?
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13 votes
10 answers
9k views

Is it illegal to use a commercial song in your game (that you intend to sell)

If I were to buy, say this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fumBcKC6RE, strip/find/get the instrumental, and use that instrumental in a game I'm making, as a theme, say for a recurring boss fight,...
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  • 147
13 votes
3 answers
3k views

Releasing a game without really having an officially registered company

I'm thinking of releasing my iOS game without formally registering a company at all. I'm not sure I even want to create a company. ITunes wants to know the copyright holder of my title. I have 2 ...
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13 votes
2 answers
10k views

Legal issues around using real players names and team emblems in an open source game

I'm writing a sports management simulation game. Like most sport management games, it makes heavy use of statistics. I would like to use real players, teams and league names. i) Am I running the risk ...
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  • 243
13 votes
3 answers
5k views

Legality of using names in a game?

If I am creating a board-game type game, does anyone know if it is legal to use others' names in the game? ie. A playing card with "George Bush" or "Michael Jackson" on it. Also, is it the same for ...
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  • 241
12 votes
2 answers
7k views

Am I allowed to make my Minecraft clone open source?

I'm developing in my spare time a game like Minecraft. In fact, it isn't "like Minecraft", because I'm trying to make it a close as possible copy of it (meant as exercise for myself at the age of 16 ...
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12 votes
1 answer
1k views

What to consider legally when cloning an old game? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How closely can a game resemble another game without legal problems I'm going to make a game in the form of a 100% free Android phone app that will be basically a clone of an ...
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  • 223
12 votes
1 answer
527 views

Conundrum with quality and virus reports: is our game releasable?

I've just got done talking to the CEO of our independent game studio about one of our projects nearing completion. We're considering canning the whole project for a number of reasons: There are ...
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  • 385
11 votes
4 answers
850 views

Does using an licensed game engine prevent you from open sourcing a defunct work?

I'm curious as my previous company is asking us (people who developed the game) on what to do to the game since it's no longer financially viable. My suggestion was to open source it so people can ...
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  • 1,184
11 votes
2 answers
863 views

Does using Creative Common data in a GPL game mean the code must be CC-BY-SA?

Let's assume we have a game where the code is GPL-licensed, and all the resources (like music, textures, etc.) are licensed under the CC-BY-SA license. Now, the first issue would be that the GPL is ...
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  • 295
11 votes
1 answer
10k views

Can I use Playstation controller button icons in my game?

I'm currently working on a game that will be released on PC with controller support, and I'm trying to find a way on how to best represent controller icons within the game. I'm assuming I can't ...
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10 votes
3 answers
845 views

What legal matters do I need to consider when releasing an MMO?

Let's say I've finished programming an indie MMO game similiar to Tibia. I've got: a stable server application ready to launch; a tested, bug-free, working client application ready to play; the game'...
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What should I do about legal considerations for an indie game?

Apologies if there's a bit too much background information here, not sure what's relevant but figured I needed to outline the financial situation to differentiate this from other questions whose ...
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  • 313
10 votes
3 answers
6k views

Is it legal to use car manufacturers' names in a game?

Is it legal to use car manufacturers' names in a game? For example: to describe Audi's quattro drive system? to display a rendering of an Audi? to include a photo (to which I have rights) of an ...
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  • 209
10 votes
2 answers
3k views

What do I need in order to receive payments from Valve?

I'm developer from Russia and I recently passed Steam Greenlight. Now I'm stuck on the Valve program enrollment phase. From what I've seen in the Valve forms, it is not necessary to create a company, ...
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10 votes
4 answers
899 views

Legal considerations when starting a game development team

I am about to start a project with two other developers and an artist, who I still haven't found. I'm not sure how exactly should we handle that from a legal perspective, though. Are we supposed to ...
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  • 7,857
10 votes
2 answers
279 views

How is custom-written music generally licensed for a small game?

I am relaunching my career as a game musician; previously I have done a little bit of licensed work and writing music for game jam-type games, after having written music as a secondary job duty for my ...
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  • 397
9 votes
7 answers
3k views

Can I use copyrighted sprites for a demo?

I just had a quick question and wanted everyone's opinions. I'm making a 2D demo game for a resume which I want to post online. I'm applying as a programmer position so I don't really have my own art....
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9 votes
2 answers
345 views

When should I talk to a lawyer about intellectual property for an indie team?

Let's say you have a team building a decent game and all is well technically and people-wise. You feel pretty sure you'll get to a product that can be sold. How does an indie studio (with good ...
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  • 320
9 votes
1 answer
5k views

Do I need licensing to use real city names in my game?

I want to allow people to go to real places (Seattle Washington, Portland, Maine, etc.) in my game. Will I need licensing to make those places and use their names?
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9 votes
3 answers
1k views

Splitting profit - Equal share vs equity investment (work & money spent = share)

Coming up with an appropriate one-liner question was so hard I wrote the body before the header... So we're a team of 4 developers; two designers, two coders to put it simply (naturally we don't tie ...
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  • 673
9 votes
1 answer
786 views

Marching Cubes - Legalities?

I know this isn't a "Is this legal" website, but because Marching Cubes is definitely a large subject in game development, and isn't really about a specific graphic/item, it would pass... To the ...
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  • 1,497
9 votes
0 answers
1k views

How do you fully publish a game under your name, under 18? [closed]

This has been a week of stress in trying to get things done correctly. It's all tied with keeping things legal and making sure I don't lose out on benefits of any kid. I have just recently finished up ...
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  • 198
8 votes
2 answers
24k views

Do I need to obtain a license to use real car brands in a game? [duplicate]

We are small team which working on car racing game but we don't know about licensing process for branded cars like Nissan, Lamborghini, Chevrolet and etc. Do we need to buy any licence for using ...
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