The Ur-Quan Masters Discussion Forum

The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release => Starbase Café => Topic started by: Staffy Star on May 01, 2006, 12:26:01 am



Title: what is legal?
Post by: Staffy Star on May 01, 2006, 12:26:01 am
Suppose that I would create a computer game just for fun, not take any charge for it.  Just for you guys. What would be legal? Could I take the ships from star control? Races?

I figured it would be ok since "The ur quan masters" actually is a game like that... or?


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: TiLT on May 01, 2006, 12:31:44 am
Short answer: No, you definitely couldn't take the graphics from either of the Star Control games or even The Ur-Quan Masters.

I'll leave it to someone else to give you a long answer.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Arne on May 01, 2006, 01:21:54 am
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction#Legal_aspects

That's just US though. I'm not sure how laws are applied between nations. I'm in Sweden but I think we pretty much have the same copyright laws here.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: UAF on May 01, 2006, 07:01:47 am
Actually while usually the answer is "no" in the case of StarControl it's "yes".
That's because TfB allows it. You can ask them to be 100% sure, but they pretty much gave a general 'go for it' answer in the past.
And after all, it doesn't hurt them in any way.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Shiver on May 01, 2006, 07:39:21 am
Quote
Short answer: No, you definitely couldn't take the graphics from either of the Star Control games or even The Ur-Quan Masters.

What exactly is legitimate about TimeWarp, then? They did their own graphics, but just about everything else in that game is ripped out of Star Control and it's very widely distributed as far as freeware games go.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Arne on May 01, 2006, 05:06:53 pm
As far as I know UQM is using some sort of licence.

I know of people who have had their projects shut down by the copyright/trademark owners.... but it only likely to happen when there's a new game with similar mechanics in the pipe. Hmmmm...

I think satire or fan-art is pretty much legal, but maybe not if the Trademark Dilution Revision Act ( Status (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-683) ) goes through. Basically I think it can make it illegal to ...dilute (slander?) trademarks, like the macDonalds clown or whatever. Makes me think of the Danish cartoon spectacle a while ago.



Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Zeep-Eeep on May 01, 2006, 05:47:39 pm
It's usually considered polite to ask the original author/
copyright owner before using their materials. Once
you have a positive response (in writing) you're free
to do your thing.

I've been threatened with law-suits on a few occasions
and nothing has come of it. Either through compliance
with the copyright owner or because it wasn't worth
the company's time to chase me.

Since the UQM project is distributed via the GNU GPL,
I'm pretty sure a developer would be safe ripping
parts of the game, as long as they also released their
own project under the GPL. (Viral license.)


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Halleck on May 02, 2006, 07:19:39 am
If it's a fan game, you're in grey legal territory. TFB could technically come after you, but I think noncommercial fan projects charm them more than anything.

The game content from UQM is not licensed under a free content license, but TFB has given us permission to distribute it with the game and use it on the wiki. If you want to use it in your game you'll have to get permission from them if you want to be completely safe. Still, why not make your own content, like TimeWarp did?

This gives you copyright over the content, but the intellectual property rights still belong to TFB. They like TimeWarp etc. so they will have no problem with this.

You might want to try asking forum members for permission to use their Revamped Graphics (http://uqm.stack.nl/forum/index.php?topic=2899.0).

Also you can legally reuse any of the UQM code under the GPL as long as you follow its stipulations... Creative Commons has a good human-readable summary of the GPL (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/GPL/2.0/) which can help to understand it.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Arne on May 02, 2006, 07:33:20 pm
What intellectual property rights are you talking about Halleck? To my knowledge IP is just a deliberately fuzzy umbrella term for copyright, trademark, patent, etc. Fan games would fall under derivative works, probably not fair use, If I were to guess. I think it's infringement regardless of if you make money or not of it.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Halleck on May 02, 2006, 08:12:31 pm
As I understand it, if you create a work you automatically own the copyright to that work under US copyright law. However, you may not own the idea or characters that the work is based on; that's the intellectual property of the originator. More specifically, the property rights (http://www.wipo.int/copyright/en/activities/pdf/wo_inf_108.pdf) to the character are retained by the creator of that character, giving them (as I understand it) command over how that character can be merchandised and "exploited", among other things.

So, if you do a drawing of an Orz, you own the copyright to that drawing. However, TFB basically gets to tell you what to do since they own the property rights to the character of the Orz, up to and including sending a "cease and desist" notice for infringement. However, I believe your work is protected by default from others under copyright law.

So, while TFB could potentially stop all "infringement" of their property rights, they choose not to do so and have even publically expressed support for fan game projects. Many corporations operate in the same way: paramount doesn't sue star trek fans for making models of the star trek ships as long as they're not making money off it. It's free publicity and I'd think that it would generally help to increase the fan base without really impacting sales, so most companies don't bear down, though they could.

This is how things work as I understand it, but I am not a lawyer.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Arne on May 03, 2006, 02:55:47 am
I think TfB has (maybe) trademark protection for their characters, and copyright for the actual drawings or whatever. Unless I'm misinformed, Copyright is just the right to copy, it has nothing to do with property since nothing tangible is owned. Trademark is some sort of monopoly on using a design in general.

When you say property rights you might just mean Trademark since that's what remains. Unlike Copyrights, Trademarks have to be registered to be enforceable don't they? I've played some 40k and in White Dwarf there's usually long lists of "BloodThristHammer, WarKillahMongo, OrkGibblaGrinkdaBork is a Trademark of [company name]". Doesn't this mean TfB should register Spathi, Druuge, and all the others as Trademarks? Have they?

I have no clue about this. I wonder if little Billy drawing a Splorg also means he can sue people drawing Splorgish things. He certainly have Copyright on his Splorg, but what about the Splorgians? That might require some sort of Trademark registration, unless the Copyright law have some sort of clause for 'very similar looking things'.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Novus on May 03, 2006, 04:55:23 pm
I think TfB has (maybe) trademark protection for their characters, and copyright for the actual drawings or whatever. Unless I'm misinformed, Copyright is just the right to copy, it has nothing to do with property since nothing tangible is owned. Trademark is some sort of monopoly on using a design in general.
Essentially, a trademark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark) is a name, logo or suchlike protected from use by anyone other than the owner. Also, while "Star Control" is a registered trademark in the US (owned by Infogrames) (check with the USPTO (http://www.uspto.gov/)), none of the UQM race names seem to be.

I have no clue about this. I wonder if little Billy drawing a Splorg also means he can sue people drawing Splorgish things. He certainly have Copyright on his Splorg, but what about the Splorgians? That might require some sort of Trademark registration, unless the Copyright law have some sort of clause for 'very similar looking things'.
Most countries actually have such a clause. See, for example, the Wikipedia article on derivative works (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_work).


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Deus Siddis on May 03, 2006, 08:29:27 pm
If Maxis' "Spore" turns out to be everything it is said to be, I wonder how that will effect copyrights, as fans create undocumented, trademark breaching art that gets automatically distributed across the web. Not that I'd ever think of doing something evil like that, myself. . .8)


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Arne on May 04, 2006, 01:26:07 am
I see, I suspected there was something along those lines (seems like a very judge-case-by-case law). Strangely there's no good translation of the word 'derivative' into Swedish (se:plagiat en:plagiarism maybe), I've just heard the English/American term for it every now and then. Reminded me of this Oswald/Mickey/Astroboy page (http://www.vitaphone.org/oswald.html) I found:

Doesn't Trademarks also cover characters though? Mickey Mouse is not only Copyrighted, but also Trademarked and it doesn't seem to be just the name or °o° logo from what I can tell. When the Copyright period ends for a specific cartoon it will be public domain but the characters are still Trademarked (most likely forever, knowing Disney's zeal).


And Sid. That very thought crossed my mind. Also, what happens if people use Spore as a creature design tool? I wonder how the EULA for Spore will look. More importantly, will you be able to do nude women creatures with bouncing breasts?




Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Staffy Star on May 04, 2006, 01:41:17 am
Yes Im swedish also. But i think I will make up aliens on my own.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Deus Siddis on May 04, 2006, 05:08:59 am
Quote
And Sid. That very thought crossed my mind. Also, what happens if people use Spore as a creature design tool? I wonder how the EULA for Spore will look. More importantly, will you be able to do nude women creatures with bouncing breasts?

Hehe. I hope you can export the models you make, bones and all. It will be great to see Starflight, Wing Commander, Star Control, Star Wars, etc. ships, creatures and vehicles flying around in the Spore database. Crazy stuff.

About the nude women race and the like, I think they'll maybe have to attach one of those "Gameplay experience may change during online play" disclosures to their "T" ESRB rating. :)


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Megagun on May 04, 2006, 12:19:07 pm
If you're willing to spend the money, buy the audio of Caryl Shaw's at GDC, where she talks about the pollinated content and how it works, etc.. Pretty interesting stuff..

Anyways..
In Spore, you'll be able to mark a creature as "offensive content" or just mark it as "bad" (illegal). If 10 or more people have marked it as bad, it gets reviewed by a Maxis employee, and if it breaks any copyright or whatever, it gets removed from the database. When someone repeatadly uploads bad content, he or she gets his right to upload removed..

Also, everything you create with the ingame tools will probably be the sole property of Maxis or EA..

In addition, you want walking penis? Fine, as long as you don't upload it. You can create anything you want, but you can't upload everything you want....


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Deus Siddis on May 04, 2006, 03:23:49 pm
Quote
If 10 or more people have marked it as bad, it gets reviewed by a Maxis employee, and if it breaks any copyright or whatever, it gets removed from the database.

What if it is a care-bear?

I think they will have trouble keeping track of what content violates a copyright and what doesn't. There's also the issue that the masses of crazy people probably won't mark evil content as such, because they like to defend their cities with X-Wings and Battlemechs piloted by the aforementioned lipidous unclad womanoids.


Quote
Also, everything you create with the ingame tools will probably be the sole property of Maxis or EA.

Oow, you might be right. Then they can use us as free modelers or at least concept artists for their future products, those evil bastards. (que Imperial Deathmarch theme)


Quote
In addition, you want walking penis? Fine, as long as you don't upload it. You can create anything you want, but you can't upload everything you want....

But if your 8-year-old gets attacked by an army of said appendages, can you sue maxis for the psychological harm?


This sort of thing might get Jack Thompson rich(er) and Hillary Clinton elected. There's always been moding, but this will make it part of the core gameplay, in a massive way. It will be interesting to see how this aspect turns out, and if Maxis can keep up with the challenge.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Novus on May 04, 2006, 05:59:56 pm
I see, I suspected there was something along those lines (seems like a very judge-case-by-case law). Strangely there's no good translation of the word 'derivative' into Swedish (se:plagiat en:plagiarism maybe), I've just heard the English/American term for it every now and then.
"Derivative work" translates as "bearbetat verk", although the expression seems to be less common than the corresponding English one. The rules are pretty much the same in Sweden (and in Finland, where I live) as in the US. Plagiarism is, essentially, passing someone else's work off as your own, which usually involves both copyright violation and fraud.

Quote
Doesn't Trademarks also cover characters though? Mickey Mouse is not only Copyrighted, but also Trademarked and it doesn't seem to be just the name or °o° logo from what I can tell. When the Copyright period ends for a specific cartoon it will be public domain but the characters are still Trademarked (most likely forever, knowing Disney's zeal).
As long as Disney keeps selling Mickey Mouse stuff, I believe they can keep the trademark as long as they like (I haven't studied trademark law in much detail). However, using the trademark in conjunction with the original product should still be allowed. So, if I understand this correctly, when the first Mickey Mouse cartoons enter the public domain, you can duplicate them and sell them and whatever legally, but you can't make your own without violating the Mickey Mouse trademark (note, however, that trademark protection is only granted for specific forms of applications; Mickey Mouse-shaped potatoes may be OK).

Quote
And Sid. That very thought crossed my mind. Also, what happens if people use Spore as a creature design tool? I wonder how the EULA for Spore will look.
If I write a book in Word, can Microsoft dictate what I do with it? No. If I write a program in Visual C++, can they tell me how I may license it? No, except if I want to distribute their code (e.g. libraries) along with mine. The clincher here is whether your work includes some of their work or not, at least from a copyright point of view (things get really unclear when you use dynamic linking). End-user license agreements are a different kettle of fish, of course; it's unclear whether they are valid at all, and I've never heard of anyone being sued or prosecuted for violating one here in Finland. The problems with EULAs are that they are extra limitations forced on you after making a purchase and it is unclear whether clicking a button constitutes a legally binding way of agreeing to a contract. Personally, I'd say this makes EULAs a form of fraud and/or blackmail, but that is purely an opinion. Don't get me started on "Digital Rights Management" (or, more accurately, "Locking People Out From Doing Things They Paid For The Right To Do"); legally protected DRM makes EULAs look almost benign.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Halleck on May 05, 2006, 02:11:56 am
The thing that's a bit different between spore and other content creation applications is that a good majority of the "creative work", or grunt work at least, will be performed by the computer. It will generate detail texturing, animation, etc. from proprietary maxis seeds and algorithms.

So... is your work "derivative" of maxis seeds?

I guess we'll find out when we go to install spore. My hope is that you retain authorship/copyright of your design, perhaps automatically granting maxis/ea a nonexclusive license to use it for any purpose.

What was done for stuff like the sims, where you had skins based on maxis base textures? Seems like a similar situation.


Title: Re: what is legal?
Post by: Mugz the Sane on October 10, 2006, 08:03:23 am
DRM is so damn evil that Satan has decided to retire and hand on the pitchfork.

And wtf is with this idiot randomly linking a bunch of crap?