Would this be... legal?

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ShiraiJunichi
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Would this be... legal?

#1 Post by ShiraiJunichi » Wed May 25, 2005 11:41 am

Ok, I've got some questions regarding legality of using copyrighted media to make Ren'Ai games. Let's say I want to make a game that is a spin off of an anime series- like Trigun. Is it ok to use images I've captured from DVDs I own? How about images I've found on the web? If no, would it even be ok to use fanart I, or someone else has made?

How about music? Can I use music from the soundtrack? The web?

Of course, I'm willing to give credit where credit is due. I have nothing against listing all sources in the Readme file or something.

If I do use something from the web, do I have to obtain permission first? I don't think that would work work very well. For example, if I wanted a midi from http://www.animelyrics.com, I bet I could send several e-mails and never get any response...

And what if I got the file from an internet file sharing program? How could I get permission for that?

Personally, I think that because the game would be free, the only thing that I would have to do is declare in the readme file which files are not of my own creation.

But, I don't want to spend a lot of time making a game just to be ostricized, or have my game boycotted, because I didn't follow the "rules". So I'd like to know what everyone else thinks.

I'd also like to know if anyone would even be interested in playing a game that's based on an actual anime, or video game. No point worrying about the legality of it, unless people would actually want to play it, right?

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Re: Would this be... legal?

#2 Post by PyTom » Wed May 25, 2005 12:30 pm

ShiraiJunichi wrote:Ok, I've got some questions regarding legality of using copyrighted media to make Ren'Ai games. Let's say I want to make a game that is a spin off of an anime series- like Trigun. Is it ok to use images I've captured from DVDs I own? How about images I've found on the web? If no, would it even be ok to use fanart I, or someone else has made?


Quick answer: Any use of copyrighted material without the permission of the author is illegal. All anime is still under copyright. In general, the Japanese license holders have turned a blind eye to non-profit, or not-for-much-profit, use of their works, like fanart, fanfics, doujinshi, and fan-games. This still doesn't make it legal, however.

That being said, it's actually quite hard to make a game out of screen-captures. (I know, having tried it once, long ago, in a galaxy...) You need to build up an emotional palette for characters, and it's actually quite rare that you'll be able to get them with all the emotions you need, while still wearing the same clothing and looking close enough that it's plausable that the images are from the same scene. *

You also have to cope with the fact that DVD transfers and the like are not totally perfect, so there will be compression artifacts to deal with.

I'd also like to know if anyone would even be interested in playing a game that's based on an actual anime, or video game. No point worrying about the legality of it, unless people would actually want to play it, right?


I'd say we will have people playing it, and depending on the source title you may get some crossover appeal. We've already had,Sango!, which IIRC is an Inu-Yasha fan game.

That being said, games that use copyrighted material are not allowed on renai.us, for the legal reasons mentioned above. Renai.us is on the same server as some Really Important Blogs, and so I can't risk having it shut down for any reason.

* Although I'm not sure how strictly necessary this is. mikey, how many different images of the same character do you include in your games?
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Re: Would this be... legal?

#3 Post by mikey » Wed May 25, 2005 2:28 pm

PyTom wrote:mikey, how many different images of the same character do you include in your games?

ummm... *what's he aiming at?...* if you're thinking Kaori... then 1 (in a word: one - for each girl) You'll just have to build the plot in a way that it makes sense, if you have limited resources (e.g. taking place in one area only, on one evening, so you don't have to change clothes etc.)
For River Trap I had around 15 or something, Black Pencil had 3, Milk Swim around 6, Transfer Teacher around 12. Rough estimates, including the variations with facial expressions.

PyTom is right, even though you're technically not (ever) going to be hunted down (for titles like say... Marry Me Misato), it doesn't mean that you have the right to use it. It's the same with the abandonware concept - legally, it doesn't work (yet) ;) All in all, it really only depends on your lawyer and the code of the given country. Still, you'd have to understand if people will refuse to host your file.

As for the copyright of your game, this will depend on where you publish it. It should then be under the copyright law of that country. You don't need to write any legal things or (c)'s in your readme according to the law of the country I am publishing in, for instance, it will still be protected in any case. I know this is not your question, but it shows that if you'd take pictures from my games, even though there's no legal notice, you'd still be infringing copyright.

One more question that wasn't answered, if you say you have things from someone else, this may only free you from being liable, IF you had every reason to believe the pictures were free to use. And even then you'd have to remove them if asked to do so.

There's much more on this, as you can see, all the brief answers have 50 lines or so ^_^.

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Re: Would this be... legal?

#4 Post by PyTom » Wed May 25, 2005 2:49 pm

mikey wrote:
PyTom wrote:mikey, how many different images of the same character do you include in your games?

ummm... *what's he aiming at?...* if you're thinking Kaori... then 1 (in a word: one - for each girl) You'll just have to build the plot in a way that it makes sense, if you have limited resources (e.g. taking place in one area only, on one evening, so you don't have to change clothes etc.)


I think that you made my point for me. A talented game designer can create a game even with a relatively small emotional palette.
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#5 Post by darkknight » Wed May 25, 2005 4:09 pm

Also if you use someone elses work it wont have the originality and the personal touch of your group...

And the copyright laws do not apply to public-doman sites (that was a vocab phrase on my final exam)

for example if you took all of the characters from the games in this fourm, (and copy and use them in a game) you will meet a lot of angry people but yet they could not legally do anything about it...

Kinda like microsoft stealing the "uncopywrited" Speadsheet design, renamed it Excel, copywrote it, and made a lot of money off of it. (yet another exam question)
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#6 Post by Megaman Z » Wed May 25, 2005 4:35 pm

darkknight wrote:Also if you use someone elses work it wont have the originality and the personal touch of your group...

And the copyright laws do not apply to public-domain sites (that was a vocab phrase on my final exam)

for example if you took all of the characters from the games in this fourm, (and copy and use them in a game) you will meet a lot of angry people but yet they could not legally do anything about it...

Kinda like microsoft stealing the "uncopywrited" Speadsheet design, renamed it Excel, copywrote it, and made a lot of money off of it. (yet another exam question)
good points all around (though, in theory, BL could ban the user from the forum for a while... but that'll happen when the world spins the other direction [{W<-----E} as opposed to {W----->E}]).

if you got the file via Limewire (or similar P2P file sharing program), check to see if the file (or directly related media) has copyright(s) on it. if there are none (or it's confirmed to be PD [Public Domain. you see that sometimes with Romfiles...], in which case don't bother with the rest of this.), then try and track down the IP address that you got it from (if possible). if someone starts sueing (and the media in question isn't PD), remove the file AND [if you have it] give them the IP address you got it from.

I say this because there's been a bunch of decently developed [and, in some cases, already released] mods for games nowadays (one example would be a C&C mod that had starcraft buildings and units in it) that are getting their creators sued because of copyright infringement (either that, or the copyright holders and the mod team pulled a big APRIL FOOL'S joke on PCGAMER, which published that statement, thus bringing the prank to 100's of gamers in the US.)
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#7 Post by PyTom » Wed May 25, 2005 4:43 pm

darkknight wrote:And the copyright laws do not apply to public-doman sites (that was a vocab phrase on my final exam)


This is false, or at least confused. The copyright owner can place a work into the public domain, and that means that anyone can copy/use it. But this has to be explicitly done by the legitimate owner (originally, the creator) of the work.

for example if you took all of the characters from the games in this fourm, (and copy and use them in a game) you will meet a lot of angry people but yet they could not legally do anything about it...


Wrong. AFAIK, the only thing released into the public domain is the script of the demo game. Everything else is covered by copyright, as are all works that have not been placed into the public domain. You cannot use these images without permission.

Kinda like microsoft stealing the "uncopywrited" Speadsheet design, renamed it Excel, copywrote it, and made a lot of money off of it. (yet another exam question)


Also confused. Copyright only controls the expression of ideas, rather than the ideas themselves. In general, it's okay to reimplement something like a program, or tell a similar story, as long as you don't copy the text, or use the same characters and/or setting. This is called the idea-expression divide, and it says that while it's okay to use the ideas in a story, it's not okay to retell the same story.

Think of it like writing a paper for class. It's okay to summarize and retell what you read in a reference book, but not okay to plagarize the book verbatim.

You might be a little concerned as to what your grade on that exam will be. :?
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#8 Post by Megaman Z » Wed May 25, 2005 5:14 pm

*scribble, scribble, scribble, scribble... scribble-scribble-scribble*

noted down for future reference.
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#9 Post by RedSlash » Wed May 25, 2005 9:28 pm

If the author of a piece of work doesn't explicitly declare that his/her work is public domain, then by default it is copyrighted. Therefore, you need to ask permission for anything you use that's not yours on the internet. You can get away with it if it's a parody (to a certain point).

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#10 Post by PyTom » Wed May 25, 2005 9:34 pm

RedSlash wrote:If the author of a piece of work doesn't explicitly declare that his/her work is public domain, then by default it is copyrighted. Therefore, you need to ask permission for anything you use that's not yours on the internet. You can get away with it if it's a parody (to a certain point).


Right on the money. The one clarification I have to add is that the parody has to be a parody of the work you are fairly using. So it's okay for me to make a work mocking, say, Harry Potter... but it wouldn't be okay for me to use Harry Potter characters to make fun of, say, the US Senate.

You know, with Robert Byrd as the evil grand wizard Vodelmort.
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#11 Post by darkknight » Wed May 25, 2005 9:52 pm

PyTom wrote:
darkknight wrote:And the copyright laws do not apply to public-doman sites (that was a vocab phrase on my final exam)


This is false, or at least confused. The copyright owner can place a work into the public domain, and that means that anyone can copy/use it. But this has to be explicitly done by the legitimate owner (originally, the creator) of the work.

for example if you took all of the characters from the games in this fourm, (and copy and use them in a game) you will meet a lot of angry people but yet they could not legally do anything about it...


Wrong. AFAIK, the only thing released into the public domain is the script of the demo game. Everything else is covered by copyright, as are all works that have not been placed into the public domain. You cannot use these images without permission.

Kinda like microsoft stealing the "uncopywrited" Speadsheet design, renamed it Excel, copywrote it, and made a lot of money off of it. (yet another exam question)


Also confused. Copyright only controls the expression of ideas, rather than the ideas themselves. In general, it's okay to reimplement something like a program, or tell a similar story, as long as you don't copy the text, or use the same characters and/or setting. This is called the idea-expression divide, and it says that while it's okay to use the ideas in a story, it's not okay to retell the same story.

Think of it like writing a paper for class. It's okay to summarize and retell what you read in a reference book, but not okay to plagarize the book verbatim.

You might be a little concerned as to what your grade on that exam will be. :?


big quote i know but it was needed...We are both right

according to the "Berne copyright convention" of 1989 states that everything created privately (after 1990) is copywritted but becasue of something called "fair use" you may use their items or complete data as long as their is no formal copyright statement and as long as you give them some sort of credit and as long as no profit is made off of it.

Also i dont really think a lawsuit like that would hold up much in court

about the microsoft thing...a company made a spreadsheet program before any other company...then they made it public domain...Microsoft took the exact thing, got a patient, then sold it for profit...
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#12 Post by Megaman Z » Wed May 25, 2005 10:18 pm

...Microsoft took the exact thing, got a patient, then sold it for profit...
a patient? when was Microsoft a medical company? j/k
(you meant Patent, I assume... there were other little typos, but that's the only one that really caught my attention... and sparked a chuckle...)

remotely back on topic...
this is becoming a thread I need to keep tabs on... *more scribbling...*

[updated my notes]
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#13 Post by RedSlash » Wed May 25, 2005 10:36 pm

according to the "Berne copyright convention" of 1989 states that everything created privately (after 1990) is copywritted but becasue of something called "fair use" you may use their items or complete data as long as their is no formal copyright statement and as long as you give them some sort of credit and as long as no profit is made off of it.

"Fair use" does not give you permission to use copyrighted items as long as you give credit or no profit is made. Rather, if you've used copyrighted works and got sued for it, you can try to argue that it is "fair use". Being non-profit and crediting the original author only influences your chances of your case getting ruled as "fair use".

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#14 Post by bookie » Wed May 25, 2005 10:45 pm

Whoa... back on the more specific question of using anime captures to create a game...

It may not be legal, but it won't bring the wrath of a company on you as long as you aren't making profit. Same goes for AMVs, and to a more narrow extent, fansubs. Wallpapers, Layouts, etc etc... are all made with stolen, copyrighted graphics. I've toyed with making a game for an anime myself, but it's one project at a time for me. I would be interested in seeing what you can do with that method though, it would be interesting to play.

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#15 Post by ShiraiJunichi » Thu May 26, 2005 1:11 am

Hey, RedSlash, I think your avatar may be violating copyright laws- you'd better keep that guy under control! :P

Seriously now, I'm really glad to see a lot of discussion going on, and that people are learning things *waves to Megaman Z* Maybe someone should turn this into a sticky, so newcomers can learn whats being discussed too.

Anyway, I think we're all in agreement that using images or music from an anime for your game without consent by the copyright holder is illegal. When I hear it said in so many words, using copyrighted stuff in something such as a Freeware game sounds like an immoral thing to do- but I don't think it is. Which is why I'd like to ask another question. Does anyone here consider it unethical? Personally, I think it is completely ethical. My argument is that the copyright holder actually benefits. I highly doubt anyone would say "Man! I got this sweet free game of this anime- forget about buying the DVDs, this 30 minute simple video game is just as good". On the other hand, I think it is concievable that someone would play a free game based on an anime and say, "Huh... that game was pretty cool... Maybe I should buy the DVD and check it out." Putting someone's music and images out into the world gives them publicity. It's like advertising... and it's FREE! ... but illegal... but, IMO, ethical. What does everyone else think?

Bookie>>

Thanks for the interest. I myself thought it would be pretty cool. I think the graphics would step up a notch by using screen caps (at least when compared with the art I draw O_o). And you could use actual backgrounds from the series- you could completely recreate the environment. Could use background music from the series. Wouldn't have to worry about shallow characters, cause all characters would already have their own in depth backgrounds and everything.
As far as the problem PyTom brought up, about not being able to find enough emotions that look like they could be in the same scene, I don't think this would be problematic. Just find one screen shot you like, crop out the character, look for different emotions you want, crop just the face of the emotion, and paste it onto your first screen cap. The only things you'd have to worry about are finding shots that use the same amount of lighting, and are big enough. I don't think size would be a problem because anime often has close up head shots, and you can always scale down if it's too big.

But, in the end, it all boils down to getting the game hosted. And if people are unwilling to do that because it isn't kosher, then it will have been a big waste of time.

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