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Copyrights and Public Testing

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TokH's picture
Joined: 05/04/2016

Hi all!

I have a card game that I've been working on and have been testing among friends and I've been wanting to expand to playtesting at local game shops or at open gaming events with the general public. Now, all of the art in my game has just been things I've found on Google images. If I take my game into public environments, am I infringing on any copyrights with the art? I'm not planning on handing any copies out, I don't take any credit for the art, and I'm not using the game as means for promotion in any way (unless exposure counts as promotion for the game itself).

Joined: 07/26/2015
I'm not qualified to give out

I'm not qualified to give out legal advice.
As it is not commercial, unlikely to affect the copyright holder, and very much transformative, I would believe this is fair use.

Fair use also considers industry practices. So it would be nice if some of the more experienced designers here could comment on how often they see copyrighted images used in mockups or game prototypes.

As you've pointed out, if you're promoting the game, then it's probably not fair use.

Joined: 11/19/2012
Copyright extends as far as

Copyright extends as far as the owner wants it to... and sometimes the owner goes to stupid lengths. If there's even a question of whether you can do something I'd recommend expecting they will.

That said, I wouldn't even think twice about doing it for local playtests from a copyright standpoint. The odds of the owners finding out are next to nothing... and of them caring about such a small event is even smaller*.

TI'd be more worried that using images off google can distract players from what you want them too see. If they see images from warhammer, a video game, or a popular TV show it may create expectations that have nothing to do with your creation.

Just make sure that any art you use is supporting your vision... not creating a different one.

*If someone shows up at the event and say's "I own that image shut it down!"... say "I'm sorry for the trouble" and curse your bad luck. It IS possible and they may even have a legal leg to stand on.

TokH's picture
Joined: 05/04/2016
Thanks for the input! I know

Thanks for the input! I know "fair use" has a lot of gray area, but I wasn't sure if anyone's had a problem with this is the past or anything. I imagine if you're putting in temporary art and have no artistic ability (like me), putting in images found on the web is fairly common.
I am not very savvy in the video game world, so I'm sure some of these images are from big production games and I just don't know it. It seems like it's not really worth fussing over. I debated taking out all the art for testing, but the game has double-blind reveals and having those images really helps you quickly identify what the other player is revealing.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Let's be realistic

I could understand if the artwork is used for commercial purposes...

But to be REAL HONEST, it's not like any "Indie" games are going to make millions of dollars.

As somebody else put it: "Your game may be HOT for 3 months... and you could be lucky and sell 1,000 copies." So you may sell $50,000 worth of games. This excludes the cost to make and ship the games, which shaves off about HALF, which means that you NET profit is about $25,000.

Then you must subtract all expenses, let's say another $5,000. So you end up with a profit of maybe $20,000. Hardly worth a mention in real world figures... But for the GAME INDUSTRY that might seem like a lot.

Surely I have LOST more than that just trying to make and sell a game alone.

So what's the real beef???

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