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 Post subject: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:25 pm 
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Hello people. I've been playing visual novels for years and just recently decided to try making one myself. Quickly found this great forum a few days ago and have been reading through it for information, but I have a question. Apparently it has been answered in the FAQ but I'll admit I'm stupid and don't understand the answer there.

So I'll ask here. Is it allowed to create a non-commercial fan project based on a commercial VN, using the copyrighted character art and such? Would it land me in jail? I already checked the copyright law, fair use and all that, but I'm bad with legal stuff and can't see where they draw the line. Any concrete answers are appreciated.


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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:34 pm 
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It's illegal, at least in most regions of the world. People do it regardless and many creators tolerate fanwork.
Even then using the original resources should be highly discouraged.

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:48 pm 
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Fangames are a "grey area." From what I understand, there's grounds for legal action no matter how they're carried out. This doesn't happen often, however. Some things to consider when making a fan game to minimize the risks of these sorts of things would be:



Ask permission from the original creators if possible. Getting their permission makes it less likely that you will be sued (although it's still not very likely if you don't).

(Same as what Anima said) Use original art. Ripping art, music, and other copyrighted is worse in two ways. It is more likely to upset their original creators, and it is likely to get you a worse punishment if they do do try to take action against you.

Respect the characters. Make sure you understand them, and don't make them do anything they wouldn't normally do. If a character has a clean image, you might not want to have her do slutty stuff.



These aren't hard "rules," but more of guidelines for how to avoid offending the creators. You can choose to follow however many of these rules as you like, but the fewer you follow, the greater your risk.

That being said, odds are, you'll be able to get away with it. It is pretty rare that companies actually take action against these sorts of things. (If you were trying to do something commercial, this would be an entirely different story. You would definitely be in trouble.)

I hope that this was of some help. ^^

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:12 pm 
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Nekobiker wrote:
So I'll ask here. Is it allowed to create a non-commercial fan project based on a commercial VN, using the copyrighted character art and such? Would it land me in jail? I already checked the copyright law, fair use and all that, but I'm bad with legal stuff and can't see where they draw the line. Any concrete answers are appreciated.


Read this thread and decide whether or not you want to risk the headache.

redeyesblackpanda wrote:
Fangames are a "grey area." From what I understand, there's grounds for legal action no matter how they're carried out. This doesn't happen often, however.

I don't see where the "grey area" comes in. They are illegal, plain and simple. You just aren't likely to get prosecuted for it.

The only way you can even possibly do it legally is through parody or fair-use. A fan game will never qualify for fair-use, so that is out, and doing a parody still involves changing names of characters, changing the tone of the original work, and using your own artwork, something most fan game makers wouldn't want to do.

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:05 pm 
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Yes, they're illegal. My wording may not have conveyed my intent properly. What I was trying to say is that while it isn't legal, it's on par with jaywalking, that is, you could get in trouble, but that you probably won't.

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:13 pm 
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Whenever I see questions like this asked, I always remember what happened Chrono Resurrection, a non-commercial fan 3D remake of the original game. Fortunately, Square-Enix didn't make them pay any legal fees for breaking copyright, but they did have to cease and desist after putting in a lot of amazing work. I wouldn't want to take the risk of having to discontinue my project forever after all of my hard work, or, worse, having to face serious (although unlikely) legal prosecution just for making a fan work.

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:48 pm 
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I recommend you get permission of the copyright owner to use the characters.
If you get permission, your fan work is legal according to the US Copyright Office http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html
"The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material."
I'd also recommend using your own artwork, and use royalty free music http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/ is a great source of free music, be sure to give Kevin MacLeod credit.

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:59 pm 
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Ah, one thing to note is that the more successful and popular the work becomes, the more likely you will suffer legal action. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:53 pm 
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It depends as well on what you're making a fanwork of. Some of creators will give official statements on how they feel about fanworks. Just as an example, Zun has said that any Touhou fanworks are A-OK as long as they don't use any resources from the original games, don't reveal the endings to the games, and don't sell at retail. Most creators are not nearly this accomodating though, so you'd be best off searching to see if there's any official statements, and/or looking to see if there was ever any fanworks made in the past, and if so, how they fared.


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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:12 pm 
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There are 3 things that may happen if you create non commercial fan games:
1. Nothing happen. Some IP holder loves fanworks and read/play/encourage them.
2. The IP holder will tell you to stop the development and distribution, this happen to Bareknuckle/Street of Rage fan game. Probably SEGA think that the game will be dangerous to their retro games sales division or something ...
3. The IP holder loves your stuff, gives you money and make your stuff official, this is happen to Ragnarok Battle Offline (fan game of MMORPG Ragnarok Online )

Suggestion, before you create your fangame, better check the IP holder attitude history toward fanworks :D

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:33 am 
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Thank you for your replies everyone, that cleared many things up. I'm planning a fangame of an Alice Soft work, but I couldn't find any of their official statements (if they've made any in the first place) regarding fangames, at least not in english.

I would want to use original art, but I'm not a graphic artist by any stretch and have no money to spend on commissions. Finding an artist who would work for free sounds a bit tough, and a visual novel with no art at all isn't a visual novel anymore. Unless I missed any other options, borrowing/stealing the original game's art is the only way to do this project.

Otherwise it seems that as long as I let the game keep a low profile and don't try to sell it I should be fine.


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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:44 am 
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Nekobiker wrote:
Thank you for your replies everyone, that cleared many things up. I'm planning a fangame of an Alice Soft work, but I couldn't find any of their official statements (if they've made any in the first place) regarding fangames, at least not in english.

I would want to use original art, but I'm not a graphic artist by any stretch and have no money to spend on commissions. Finding an artist who would work for free sounds a bit tough, and a visual novel with no art at all isn't a visual novel anymore. Unless I missed any other options, borrowing/stealing the original game's art is the only way to do this project.

Otherwise it seems that as long as I let the game keep a low profile and don't try to sell it I should be fine.

They officially permit fanfics unless it's made with your drawings not using official ones. Here is the original state. http://www.alicesoft.com/annai.html
Quote:
アリスソフトの製品をモチーフとした”二次創作作品”については、個人もしくは同人サークル等で趣味の範疇での場合に限り特に制限しません。

ただし、製品内の画像や文章などの素材、もしくは素材の加工物の引用・転用などは二次創作物と認めておりません。(素材の加工や引用・転用は著作権法に抵触する場合がありますのでご注意下さい)

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:47 pm 
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nyaatrap wrote:
Nekobiker wrote:
Thank you for your replies everyone, that cleared many things up. I'm planning a fangame of an Alice Soft work, but I couldn't find any of their official statements (if they've made any in the first place) regarding fangames, at least not in english.

I would want to use original art, but I'm not a graphic artist by any stretch and have no money to spend on commissions. Finding an artist who would work for free sounds a bit tough, and a visual novel with no art at all isn't a visual novel anymore. Unless I missed any other options, borrowing/stealing the original game's art is the only way to do this project.

Otherwise it seems that as long as I let the game keep a low profile and don't try to sell it I should be fine.

They officially permit fanfics unless it's made with your drawings not using official ones. Here is the original state. http://www.alicesoft.com/annai.html
Quote:
アリスソフトの製品をモチーフとした”二次創作作品”については、個人もしくは同人サークル等で趣味の範疇での場合に限り特に制限しません。

ただし、製品内の画像や文章などの素材、もしくは素材の加工物の引用・転用などは二次創作物と認めておりません。(素材の加工や引用・転用は著作権法に抵触する場合がありますのでご注意下さい)


To the OP: I'm going to go into broken record mode here, and discourage this project. You never quite know what they're going to do. If you're going to do it, then ask them directly before you begin work.

Also, don't use the original materials. Ever. They may be okay with small-scale non-commercial projects according to the quote above, they can change their minds anytime. Using the original material gives them every right to close your project down for good.

If you want advice, I would start with fresh resources, and characters with different names. Write along the same lines with the analog characters, and give AliceSoft an 'Inspired by' credit complete with the name of the game you're starting with. Your butts are covered that way.

Oh, and HikkiPanda forgot a possible consequence: They can sue you, your children, your grandchildren, and everyone you've ever met into oblivion. Copyright has been getting a lot of attention lately, and suits of this nature are not only getting more common as years go on, but the judgements are getting nastier.

If you don't have money for commissions, I'm reasonably sure you don't have $50,000 per object you use, per incident(in the US. Japanese law would apply here). Ask for a free artist around Lemmasoft.

Edit: I talked to a Japanese friend. She tells me that a doujin circle doing their own work, own art, etc will be tolerated, but that attribution must be made.

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:15 pm 
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With all the C&D orders from companies like Square, I don't get why the fangame makers don't just keep the thing under wraps and then dump it somewhere anonymously when it's done. Seriously, you know it's coming at this point if your project is any good, so why even start otherwise?

But whatever. Not that I encourage people to use other people's characters without permission.

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 Post subject: Re: Fangames
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:13 pm 
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DarkSpartan wrote:
Oh, and HikkiPanda forgot a possible consequence: They can sue you, your children, your grandchildren, and everyone you've ever met into oblivion. Copyright has been getting a lot of attention lately, and suits of this nature are not only getting more common as years go on, but the judgements are getting nastier.

Exactly. Possibility Number 4: They sue your ass off. But hey, if you're the gambling type who doesn't mind prison or massive debt from a settlement if you lose, go ahead and make that fan game! :roll:

Seriously, IP Theft and Copyright lawyers are the new injury lawyers. More people are getting sued over copyright violations every year. And as Nanashi found with his use of Mickey Mouse, if you tick off the company's fanbase some will report you to the company or even fake lawsuits against you.

Blue Lemma wrote:
With all the C&D orders from companies like Square, I don't get why the fangame makers don't just keep the thing under wraps and then dump it somewhere anonymously when it's done. Seriously, you know it's coming at this point if your project is any good, so why even start otherwise?

But whatever. Not that I encourage people to use other people's characters without permission.

Probably because they need the constant attention and zeal from a fanbase to get anything done or stay motivated. But I agree, if you make a fan project, especially if it is GOOD, you are a moron to announce it before you release it, because a Cease and Desist will always find its way to you.

If you love an IP, you don't have to make a fan-game. Suzanne Collins didn't write Battle Royale fan-fiction. She took the same premise and wrote her own world, characters, and story around it to create a bestseller - The Hunger Games. Something that never would have happened if she wrote in someone else's fictional world.

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