I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets...

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SuperbowserX
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I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets...

#1 Post by SuperbowserX » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:19 am

I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets -- except the scripting of course -- from other sources. All the background art and character art is from Cause of Death by EA (I ripped the sprites and backgrounds with bitmaprip). Music and sound effect are from a variety of sources.

Basically, other than the storyline, coding and arguably the menu system, none of the assets in the game are mine. : :roll: :wink: :P :wink:

I don't know much about copyright and fair use law and all that (other than the fact that the internet is notoriously know for decrying it as complex and fucked up impossible to grasp). So let me ask this: is my game legal to release as a non-profit? I do not intend to make a penny off of this game, it was made for me for fun. Might I run into any legal challenges if I publish this game for free non-commercial use?

Also, side question. The VN I am making is a Western VN (other than some songs I perused from JRPGs nothing about it fits the Eastern VN typicals). Where can I post my beta/demo of it when I finish the first chapter to ask for beta testers and opinions?

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#2 Post by Imperf3kt » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:26 am

Copyright is not hard to understand at all.
In its most basic explanation, 'copyright' translates to:
Do you have the right to copy the stuff you copied?

So do you?
Probably not. Read the game manual.

Also, if you had to rip the files, then thats a very good indicator that you cannot release your game, even to yourself.
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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#3 Post by SuperbowserX » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:36 am

Really? So I, even if I give full credit to all owners and abstain from making a fraction of a cent off of the game, would run into legal trouble if I tried to release it even on this forum?

I'd probably get a takedown notice right?

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#4 Post by trooper6 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:07 am

You need permission to use other people's stuff. There are a few exceptions...but those exceptions are not about if you are making money. They are things like: is this a parody? Is this educational? Is this transformative and used for criticism? Is this using only a small fraction of the work? Is this have Ng no impact on the orginal intellectual property (profit? Reputation? Etc)

If what you are doing is free, and doesn't harm their IP in any way, you can ask them and maybe they will give you permission.

The last academic article I wrote--which fit three of the four guidelines of fair use--I still had to ask permission and pay money to reproduce the lyrics of the song I was analyzing. I only had to pay $40, but I still had to pay and get permission. And they wanted to see what I wrote about the song before they would give permission.

So what you are talking about is surely illegal.

That said, others will probably tell you: if you are an obscure free fan game nobody knows about, I'm sure you'll be fine. Some might say--depends on how litigious the company is. Disney is famous for suing people all over the place. Other companies might let things slide.

Maybe you should do what the original creators of Cause of Death did when they made their new game post-Cause of Death. They retained their original formula but made new characters that they owned.

Be inspired by Cause of Death...but make your own thing.
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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#5 Post by gekiganwing » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:47 am

In my opinion, there's always a risk in using commercial art, music, and other assets which you do not own. I've seen some freeware visual novels, as well as free RPG Maker games, which clearly borrow assets from published works, and remain online and free to download for years. On the other hand, some fangames (free fan-made products based on intellectual properties) have received a cease-and-desist while in development.

If you want people to read your visual novel, and you're worried, then think about the following:

* Use only assets from the Creative Commons section of this forum. If necessary, make it clear that they're just placeholders.
* Draw rough images of how the characters should look. Or perhaps create boxes which say "picture of antagonist" or "picture of policeman."

Post your work-in-progress on this forum, and maybe also r/vndevs and the Fuwanovel.net forums. If you're already active on a large community such as Tumblr or DeviantArt, then think about posting it there. I can't think of any other places where people discuss their free work-in-progress visual novels.
SuperbowserX wrote:The VN I am making is a Western VN...
All stories reflect their creators' backgrounds, beliefs, concerns, and so on. Some creators choose to emphasize place, time, and local interests in their stories. For more examples, search the web for regionalist art or literature.

There are many nations and cultures. I've noticed quite a few differences when traveling from my hometown of Chicago to other cities on the same continent. Finally, I know there are many things which I take for granted that people in different countries would consider bizarre.

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#6 Post by indoneko » Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:08 am

Is there any specific reason that you certainly "need" to use BG & Sprites from Cause of Death?
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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#7 Post by SuperbowserX » Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:07 am

No. I just don't have the drive or effort to draw/make/stylize my own. I made this VN as an introduction to Ren'py for myself, and to get into the loop I'm curbing the effort by just skipping the work in obtaining my own assets so I could retain my desire to learn the editor (if I tried to make all my own assets I'm sure I would give up).

It's not a huge project, it's just a small fangame.

Also, the game is a tribute to CoD. Plus, since I have all the DLC in that game, I have quite a wide array of backgrounds.

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#8 Post by SuperbowserX » Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:11 am

And would it be okay for me to offer my VN as it will be when it's finished soon (with "borrowed" assets) on the WIP forum on this site? Going by what you guys are saying I'm not exactly on the ideal side of the law, and I wanted to know if I would be allowed to upload on there in spite of that.

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#9 Post by RotGtIE » Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:40 am

You wouldn't even have the rights to build your own versions of the assets which belong to someone else's IP. Chrono Trigger Resurrection was squashed even though all of the assets were original, because they were all of an IP owned by Nintendo, and similar projects have received cease-and-desist orders for the same reasons.

If you cannot create your own assets aside from the writing, you have two options. The first is to use creative commons assets. The second, and my recommendation, is to use placeholder assets to build your VN and then collaborate with asset creators to get finalized versions of those assets built. You can use anything from stick figures or MSPaint scribbles to just plain old boxes with the name of the planned asset on them, knowing that you are going to replace the placeholders with the finished assets once they are completed.

VN collabs have a chronic problem of lazy writers, so most people who would be happy to join a collab will be very hesitant to do so until there is at least a complete script ready. But if you build it, they will come. Especially, of course, if you pay them.

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#10 Post by SuperbowserX » Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:55 am

Thanks for the help everyone. A bit demoralizing, but I appreciate being knowledgable, I'll have to be careful.

I don't intend to go collab and certainly not to invest any money, it's not the kind of person I am or project i'm making.

Out of curiosity, has anyone ever been sued for stealing assets for fangames (as in the company just skipped over the cease-and-desist part and sued them/demanded settlement without warning)? I mean I suppose it's okay for me to just take a cease-and-desist but it's a much different field if they can sue without warning.

One day, if I become a good artist (I might pick up the talent one day, character design is looking cooler to me as I play more commercial VNs), I might dig up the VN I am making now and start redrawing all the character files.

But on that note: regarding what someone said earlier, I apparently would have no rights to keep the game on my HDD even if I never shared it to anyone. Is it feasible or possible that anyone would do anything about that? What exactly does it mean that I don't have a legal right to keep it to myself? It's just a legal technicality that is impossible to enforce IRL right?

What if we take it a step further? What if I privately send it to a few IRL friends, and if none of them go out of their way to report it, is it feasible I will get a problem with it later?

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#11 Post by indoneko » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:00 am

I can't speak for the admin, but I haven't seen any specific forum rules about fan games so I'd say go ahead and create your WIP thread here (as long as you UNDERSTAND the RISK). Don't forget to put some disclaimers, and keep the publicity to minimum (for ex: release it only in a closed circle/group) - or otherwise EA will start to notice you.

On the flip side, if you just want to learn about making games in Renpy, then why don't you make an original one instead? As Gekiganwing mentioned above, we do have CREATIVE COMMON sub forum where you can get all the FREE assets that you can use in your game...
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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#12 Post by RotGtIE » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:24 am

You're putting a lot of thought and effort into using copyrighted assets. If you put a third of that energy into developing your own, you'd be there already. If you think it's demoralizing now just being told not to play games with the law, think of how crushing it would be to have your whole project shut down by a C&D notice after working on it for months or even years.

If you absolutely won't develop your own assets, use creative commons. This is exactly what they are for.

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#13 Post by Kominara » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:47 pm

For personal use (i.e. not distributing it,) it's fine. Go crazy.

If you were to send it to your friends, you'd start into illegal territory. Admittedly, you probably won't get arrested, but it would violate copyright law.

Releasing it on the forums...it's been done. There are some games that use copyrighted assets. But most of those take assets from Japanese indie games, so there's no real fear of legal repercussions. If you were to plagiarize art from an EA game, you'd have lawyers knocking down your door within a few weeks.

Honestly, using copyrighted art (especially without permission) is a bad practice. If you want to make a free VN, there's a nice Creative Commons section, as other people have mentioned.

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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#14 Post by Sleepy » Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:39 pm

Honestly, you would save yourself a lot more effort if you started phasing out your copyrighted assets and started transitioning in free or placeholder elements now. Illegal use of assets is illegal use, and, while I can understand using copyrighted assets to help teach yourself, you're currently thinking about how to distribute or share. Even putting it up as a 'demo' can get you into trouble.

You can actually get a lot of use out of creative commons materials, by themselves or if you put some effort into personalizing them for your game. It doesn't take that much effort to read up on copyright laws either, since many resources will outright say if you can use their assets for commercial or noncommerical projects and there's tons of sites (not just on these forums) that provide free assets.

And as others have pointed out, it's just good practice to start thinking about these things now rather than late into the project when your work that could get you Cease-and-Desisted. I use a fair bit of creative commons materials for my work and I try to keep close track of who did it and what license it was uploaded under, especially so I don't have to worry about it down the road. It's much easier to be doing it as you work and saves you time later.
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Re: I am making a visual novel that borrows all it's assets.

#15 Post by Imperf3kt » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:06 pm

SuperbowserX wrote:Out of curiosity, has anyone ever been sued for stealing assets for fangames (as in the company just skipped over the cease-and-desist part and sued them/demanded settlement without warning)? I mean I suppose it's okay for me to just take a cease-and-desist but it's a much different field if they can sue without warning.
Many people have been sued, but mostly groups. More often than not, an individual complies with the terms of the C&D letter they received. If they don't comply, then they are sued.
That's what "cease and desist" is, it's a legal letter informing the party involved that they are going to be sued if they do not comply with the instructions within the letter.
SuperbowserX wrote:Regarding what someone said earlier, I apparently would have no rights to keep the game on my HDD even if I never shared it to anyone. Is it feasible or possible that anyone would do anything about that? What exactly does it mean that I don't have a legal right to keep it to myself? It's just a legal technicality that is impossible to enforce IRL right?
It's highly unlikely that you'll be caught. It isn't any issue to do this on your own personal computer, provided you don't give the law any other reason to seize your computer. If they do, and find this, they'll slap you with two additional charges against you; copyright violation, circumvention of copy protection.
SuperbowserX wrote: What if we take it a step further? What if I privately send it to a few IRL friends, and if none of them go out of their way to report it, is it feasible I will get a problem with it later?
Same as above, only if you give them reason or suspicion to actually check your computer for illegal files (highly unlikely unless you've got CP)
Then again, by distributing it to friends, you're increasing the chances of it being found, as well as decreasing your control over the files - can you guarantee your friends won't upload this somewhere? If they're caught, it'll lead directly back to you.


Now, with that said, I do have a suggestion.
Replace all current assets with placeholder files. They can be a 1x1 pixel image for all you care, as long as they are yours or creative commons zero or similar.
Next, distribute this game.
Finally, instruct your friends where to obtain the actual files you used and tell them which files to swap them with.
Be sure you don't give instructions on how to "rip" the files if they need to be obtained illegally, as that in itself is another charge you could be accused of.
et voilà - 100% legal "distribution" of copyright assets. (note, you might still be accused of advocating copyright violation / circumvention)
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