Skip to Content

copyrighting.

11 replies [Last post]
Anonymous

hi,
i would like to ask if anyone knows about the use of real peoples names in a game, dead or still living is allowed and not an infringement of copyrighting..ie movie stars, politicians..if anyone has any info i

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
copyrighting.

I am not a lawyer. Before you spend any money or risk anything at all yo,u should speak to an actual lawyer about this. The following is not intended as legal advice.

It

doho123
doho123's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/21/2008
copyrighting.

My understanding of this (having been in an industry where licensing is common for over 10 years) is that every person pretty has the rights to control their unique image. So, if you are using a picture of ANYONE famous, you will most likely run into some problems, via a concerned family member, or whoever the current rights holder is. The only exception to this rule seems to be politicians, who, by sheer definition of being a public servant, seem to lose this capability.

However, using just their names probably is somewhat nebulous, depending on how they are being used. If you are doing a music trivia game, using the name, say "Elvis Presley" as an answer to one question, is clearly different than calling the game "Elvis Presley Trivia." (I just happen to be working a an Elvis product right now). Also, it gets worse, as different people will sometimes hold the rights to different aspects of that personalities works. For example, while you might think Elvis Presely Enterprises holds the rights to everything Elvis, they unfortunately don

Anonymous
copyrighting.

thank you for your answer..u have said pretty much what i thought in general without consulting a lawyer which i will when i have my ideas more firm in my head or prototype ready..let me be more to the point and see what you think...what i

Anonymous
copyrighting.

I'd like to bring this question back up again. I am designing a soccer board game and would like to use many of the international players. How would I go about and how much do you think it would cost for me to buy from FIFA the right to use their names?

I have also been working on a game based in the Dragonlance world (a series of books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman). How much would something like this cost to get the license to? is it better for me just to make a generic theme similar to it? And why am I ending all of my sentences in pronouns and prepositions? :-)

Anyway, help would be appreciated immensely.

Caparica
Caparica's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/06/2008
Re: copyrighting.

The Mystery of the Abbey game by Bruno Faidutti and Serge Laget is a case of failed licensing. It was intendent to be a Humberto Eco's Name of the Rose Clue game. But Eco never agreed, Faidutti told at an interview that he was very upset about the movie. If one look at the game instructions there is even a caricature of Sean Connery as a monk. Maybe the game would have sell better if it was connect to the book or movie, but I don't think so.

Anonymous
copyrighting.

The actual answer you're looking for is tied to what's known as the 'doctrine of fair use'. Every individual has certain trademark (not copyright) rights attached to their personal image and name.

To boil out some of the legalese... you can use anyone's name or image... UNLESS it could be construed that the use of said name or image might contribute to the marketability aspects of your product.

IOW... Ty Cobb's Baseball! would be an infringement on the estate of Ty Cobb... as his name definitely adds marketability to a baseball game.

John Smith's Baseball, with an explanation within the rules as to who John Smith is, would probably be fair use, even though there is undoubtedly a "John Smith' out there.

In the two cases cited here by the two parties asking, Caprica and Inspector, BOTH ARE infringements... and you should steer clear of the types of use both of you have suggested.

...and, in these cases, a lawyer IS a good idea.

One other worthy notation here... 'parody' of a living or dead individual is ok.... but this too can be a quicksand. Its better to call your main character "Fluffy the Vampire Sleeper" than "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and you readers will still get the joke.
XXOOCC

Anonymous
copyrighting.

Something that I've seen used before--I think in Mad magazine--is to create a characture of the personality and to slightly modify the name.

Sting: Stang
Sean Connery: Shawn Clownnery
Michael J. Fox: Michael J. Wolf
Celine Dion: Honey Dijon
Tom Brokaw: Thomas Brokitall

Anyway, you get the idea. That way, the character and the similar name work together to illustrate the personality you're after without--as far as I know--the legal ramifications.

Anonymous
copyrighting.

Mario-
That's actually protected speech under 'parody' and so is used all of the time. We adopted the trade dress of "Titanic" when we did "Gigantic" even including the phrase, "Winner of absolutely NO Academy Awards, including Best Picture" on the cover...and it's all protected speech as parody.
XXOOCC

Oracle
Offline
Joined: 06/22/2010
copyrighting.

XXOOCC wrote:
We adopted the trade dress of "Titanic" when we did "Gigantic" even including the phrase, "Winner of absolutely NO Academy Awards, including Best Picture" on the cover...and it's all protected speech as parody.

Your company is Inner City Games? I don't think I knew that before, but I just ordered 6 of your games yesterday. I didn't get Gigantic though.

How are Space War, My First Larp, Bug Strife, Gummi Wars, Blow Me Out of the Sky, and (Your Name Here) of the Jungle?

Jason

IngredientX
IngredientX's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/26/2008
copyrighting.

bennyd wrote:
I'd like to bring this question back up again. I am designing a soccer board game and would like to use many of the international players. How would I go about and how much do you think it would cost for me to buy from FIFA the right to use their names?

I'd imagine this would be quite expensive. FIFA is a huge orginization with a vested interest in protecting its assets. If your game will not be distributed to many people (i.e. 500 copies), you might be okay. If you're looking to make a serious profit on this, you should look very closely at the legal side of it.

There's another wrinkle to this. I know that in American sports, the players' unions are very powerful. A company looking to make a game based on baseball would have to make a deal with Major League Baseball to have rights to all the team names, logos, stadiums, uniforms, etc. But they also need to strike a seperate deal with the players' union (in this case, the MLBPA) to include all player names and likenesses.

I don't know if FIFA's players are unionized, but if they are, you may have to go to them if you want to use real player names. If you want to use club names, you may have to go to FIFA seperately.

Obviously, I'm not a lawyer, and I can't affirm that the above is true. But it's the best of my knowledge.

Quote:
I have also been working on a game based in the Dragonlance world (a series of books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman). How much would something like this cost to get the license to? is it better for me just to make a generic theme similar to it?

I don't know. The Dragonlance series is very popular, so again, there's a vested interest in protecting that asset. I'd imagine that if you went in through the front door and asked Weis' and Hickman's agents, you'd get a very high price. That's their job: to make money for their clients. Perhaps if you stress that this is not a large release, and is being done out of a home as a labor of love, you could negotiate your way into only having to pay royalties; but there's obviously no guarantees of that.

If there were a way to contact Weis and Hickman directly, you could pitch the game to them. If they liked the idea, they could veto their agents and try to help you with the release of the game. Of course, you'd have to get in line with all the fans who are trying to contact the two authors themselves. :)

Still, the "medival fantasy" setting is so accepted, you can have a game with plenty of dragons and not worry about any copyright infringement. I'm not familiar with Dragonlance, so I don't know what sets it apart from others in the genre. But if you use it as a starting point, perhaps you might wind up in an original, royalty-free world of your own.

Quote:
And why am I ending all of my sentences in pronouns and prepositions? :-)

Anyway, help would be appreciated immensely.

Sorry, can't help you there. :)

Anonymous
copyrighting.

Oracle wrote:
XXOOCC wrote:
We adopted the trade dress of "Titanic" when we did "Gigantic" even including the phrase, "Winner of absolutely NO Academy Awards, including Best Picture" on the cover...and it's all protected speech as parody.

Your company is Inner City Games? I don't think I knew that before, but I just ordered 6 of your games yesterday. I didn't get Gigantic though.

How are Space War, My First Larp, Bug Strife, Gummi Wars, Blow Me Out of the Sky, and (Your Name Here) of the Jungle?

Jason

Yeah, thats us :lol:
Space War is one of my favorites... so I think you'll like that one a lot.
My First Larp is not actually a game... but if you make it to the end of the 'rules' without a laugh please let me know.
Gummi Wars and Bug Strife miniatures games... with Bug Strife being the more in-depth of the two. It has a fairly complex resource management game behind it, but without terribly complex rules. Gummi Wars is funnier to play.
Blow Me Out of the Sky is a fantastic game of simple jet fighter combat. It sacrifices 3-dimensional combat rules for incredibly fast play, but is a great way to kill about two hours and it takes about 10 minutes to understand the rules. Top that with being able to customize your fighter payloads and attributes and I'll say that it is by far my favorite aitcraft minis game, with Goblitooth's "Hostile Aircraft" coming in a close second (their rules are more realistic, but take longer to play than I like).
(ynh) of the Jungle is a combination miniatures and board game, with shades of the resource management found in Bug Strife. I like it, but I don't truly view it as my best work.... it is ok, and a good ruleset for using plastic jungle animals.

Lemmings In Space!, Gigantic, and Who's Your Daddy? are my faves... with Brunch at the Coliseum, When Good Neighbors Go Bad, Space War!, and When Good Villagers Go Bad making up my second tier.

...but bear in mind two important points:

I'm probably biased.

I don't publish stuff that I wouldn't play repetitively... or in the case of the "My First.." books, read more than once.

Hope you find them worth your while :D ... and thanks for the support!
XXOOCC

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut