Copyright and Free Writing

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dennissaton
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Copyright and Free Writing

#1 Post by dennissaton » Mon May 06, 2019 2:35 am

Their are people here who are willing to do Free writing, and free other items in exchange for credit in a game.
How does that work with copyright. I dont want too accept free work if later on the person can turn around and sue for copyright infringement.
So does anyone know how all of this works?

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Re: Copyright and Free Writing

#2 Post by Imperf3kt » Mon May 06, 2019 4:01 am

Any person who writes for you will need to tell you (in writing) what license they're releasing the work under. For free work with attribution, this is generally a creative commons 3.0 of some sort.

Technically, from a legal standpoint, if they do not declare a license, then sue you later, the work is likely to be treated as yours or CC0 (public domain - anybody may use it) unless they can prove within reasonable doubt, that they wrote it.
Its hard to say exactly how these situations turn out as each situation is handled on a case by case basis and I'm not a lawyer. It gets even more complicated in international disputes.

The bottom line is, generally if the person who wrote it doesn't clearly define what license the work is under, they have no legs to stand on when sueing you, even if you actually did steal it and on the other hand if they did, then you should have a physical copy of them declaring such to protect yourself.
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Re: Copyright and Free Writing

#3 Post by PyTom » Tue May 07, 2019 12:00 am

Imperf3kt's post is completely and dangerously wrong when it comes to copyright law. Copyright law is pretty clear - works are copyright the author, in the vast vast majority of cases. You have no rights to use a work unless the copyright author gives you permission.
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Re: Copyright and Free Writing

#4 Post by Imperf3kt » Tue May 07, 2019 12:27 am

I don't intend to be rude, but I disagree with Pytom and believe my information accurate, at least within my own country. Our copyright law is heavily based on Us copyright law and is mostly identical.

Sources:
https://www.copyright.org.au/ACC_Prod/A ... ences.aspx

https://www.copyright.org.au/ACC_Prod/A ... ights.aspx


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Re: Copyright and Free Writing

#5 Post by PyTom » Tue May 07, 2019 2:01 am

I'm going with US law, but copyright is controlled by international treaties. For the US, Circular 1 mentions:
Copyright exists automatically in an original work of authorship once it is fixed in a tangible medium.
That's all that's needed for someone to enforce copyright against you. While they do need to register the copyright to sue you, they can do that after the fact, so it's not an impediment. Copyright works in the sort of way where you have to prove that you have a license from the creator (including one of the creative commons licenses, though each of those licenses has terms you need to abide by). A court isn't going to convert an unlicensed work into a CC0 or other free license for you.

Basically, if you're not sure you can use something, you're not allowed. And nobody can use your copyrighted works without your permission. There's some subtly about what "use" means, but that's not terribly relevant for visual novel development.
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Re: Copyright and Free Writing

#6 Post by arty » Tue May 07, 2019 3:46 am

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm an artist from Austria who had her work stolen by a company. I never registered any sort of trademark and didn't worry about copyright when I posted my art on my tumblr blog. I did not state any license or anything. I did not state that no one is allowed to use it.
Later I found out that a company had traced it and printed it on shirts, which they sold on Amazon and Ebay.

I contacted a lawyer and the company had to stop selling my stuff, as well as pay me a fine. This was settled out of court. As long as the original author of the work can somehow prove that it's theirs, they don't even need to take you to a courtroom to make you dearly regret taking it. There's many ways to prove their authorship.

If someone offers you "free" writing, ask them to attach a license that allows you to use it. (Easy tool to generate the text: https://creativecommons.org/choose/zero/?lang=en ) Alternatively, get their explicit permission to use their work and keep proof of it.
Otherwise, don't use it.

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Re: Copyright and Free Writing

#7 Post by Elta » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:39 am

Copyright is automatic. The creator owns it unless they write it over to someone else. I've done this with my art, where I have signed away my copyright to the company, but normally that costs them alot. Even when I sell art to someone I still retain the copyright. I sell them the right to use the artwork. Art I sell for less money is normally only allowed for personal use, you have to pay more in most cases to be allowed to use the art commercially. All this is the same for writing. Nothing is public use unless the copyright holder has passed away (and a certain number of years has passed) or the creator has stated it's public use. Sometimes even if the creator dies someone else can own the copyright after. So you can never assume you can use something, and have to actually find something official saying you can.

The one time this isn't true, is if it's fan art or writing, something that uses someone else's characters. You have no leg to stand on if the original company takes your creation and sells it, because you used their characters without their permission. There have been many cases of people having their fan art used, and the original owner of the characters normally win (because they have official trademarks and such that protect the characters.) Obviously I don't know the legal stuff about it, but fact is it's happened.

Point being, if someone dose something for you for free, make sure to get it in writing that that is what they are doing, and that your allowed to use it fro free. (Not as big a deal if you are not using what they create to sell something, but it still is a good idea to cover your bases.)

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