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Legal Issue Precidents

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Joined: 01/11/2012

Does anyone know, or can we find out, what some games have already done in terms of copyright law.

As an example:

Do we know what sort of rights Apples to Apples acquired, if any?

There is always some talk about some games that are like other games, have any of these been resolved one way or another? (Flash Duel and En Guard is the latest controversy in my memory)

Anyone have a ball park idea of how much the Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, or other IP games went for?

These are just some generalities, and I know most of it is stuff to be handled by studios, but it certainly doesn't hurt to try and pool information in this regard.

Joined: 07/28/2008
Being "like" another game in

Being "like" another game in no way means a copyright as been violated. Not in the legal sense that a copyright covers.

Copyrights cover the expression of an idea. Not the idea itself. So it is entirely possible that 10 different writers could write a story "like" Star Wars, but all of them being a bit different from the others and none of them violating a copyright anywhere.

Put another way, if I wanted to make a game 99% "like" Settlers of Catan and did so using our own artwork and 100% our own writing of rules and did not use a trademark (such as "Settlers of Catan") copyright law doesn't actually prohibit that. Game play mechanics and the mechanics of things, in general, are never protected by copyright law. Only the physical expression of those mechanics.

Licenses from major hollywood studios "start" at $10,000 advance against 8-10% percent of sales and go up from there. If it is a popular property and a broader category license, sometimes the advance can easily be many multiples of that $10K advance.

Independent authors or right holders may be willing to negotiate for less, but rarely if they have engaged with a licensing agent to represent them.


Traz's picture
Joined: 04/06/2009
don't get me started....

$10K for starters? That sounds about right. But only for stuff that's at the bottom of the Nielsen's. If you want to go above that, the $$ curve is VERY steep. Look for other areas than entertainment.

I have a basic card/dice game design that can be transformed into just about anything, given a set # of objects. Wanted to do an NFL version and a POKEMON version. Don't recall which one was $150K [upfront in cash], but it was the cheap one.

I'll let you do the math.

My one game using licensed logos - EXPRESS LINE, which used a goodly number of train logos - took me a year and a half to get authorized. The Rail folks were all wonderful [once everybody was on board - pun intended] and most charged me little or nothing... but the stipulation was that I was only allowed to run 100 copies. So I produced 100 numbered copies, hoping that one of the big publishers would be interested in snapping up a product that had the permission of all four major Railroads to use their logos in one place. While I got a number of incredulous pats-on-the-back [I was surprised at how many folks were amazed that I had been able to get all the endorsements], no-one was willing to follow up on all my prep work.

So, there you go. If you've got big bucks you can make things happens if you aren't afraid of opening your wallet. On the other hand, even if you can find a genre where the licensees aren't outrageous [RR logos run from $50-$1500 and go up depending on the size of the print-run, but they're flexible depending on the item or project. They were VERY pleased to be ASKED FIRST and were looking forward to seeing themselves in a legitimate game box].

Therefore- even if you can line things up for publishers [doing all the hard work for them], it's no guarantee they're going to be interested. Most of the publishers were polite, but their bottom line was, "We've been doing without them for so long, we're not really interested in the real thing anymore, but thank you anyway."

And that was that.

Needless to say, I won't do licensed items anymore.

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