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Art on the Internet

4 replies [Last post]
Horatio252's picture
Joined: 03/13/2011

In assembling my prototype I took images from the internet with little regard for how they were copyrighted. My game is now at the point where I want to start showing it to publishers, but I don't want to have to make new art. Should I make new art anyway, or does it not matter? I am not disseminating or making money from the images and I have no intention of selling the game to customers as it is. I just want the art to enhance the quality and atmosphere of my prototype when I am showing it to publishers.

Joined: 05/11/2010
Copyright Law Don't Care...

...if you make money on it. The law prevents any unauthorized reproduction, use, etc. In fact, the statute you would get sued under provides for statutory penalties in addition to disgorging any profit you made. Further, the publishers you are shopping to may not like to get involved with a project if you are using art without permission, and that may not leave a good impression with them anyway.

Sorry to sound all doomy and gloomy. Maybe you can find some other art that is not rights protected, and I would make sure you have some way to trace back that it is not so.

There are some exceptions in the statutes for "fair use," and things that are in the public domain, but it sounds like you are not dealing with things of that sort.

Better to be safe than to skirt the law.

GiggleboxGames's picture
Joined: 03/04/2012
Completely concur with wsthomas

Issued a patent and holding several formal copyrights, I am familiar with key points of intellectual property law. You would need to consult an attorney regarding specific details. Copies are generally permitted for educational use and also personal use when you have purchased for example, a book or audiotape. Teachers can make copies for the purpose of illustration within a lesson. To copy for personal use an item purchased by someone else is considered monetary gain. Intent of the copy is to circumvent purchase. The same is true for images on the Internet. This art belongs to someone else and used without payment or permission.

You could ask for permission. Simply contact the copyright owner and explain that you hope to temporarily use their images. Describe your mission. If acceptable, you may receive a written statement that limits use to your mission. Email works well but should contain full name, title when a company representative, address and phone number for verification. Although you plan to eventually replace the images, the ultimate goal of approaching a publisher is monetary gain. Effectively, you are promoting the concept with art that you cannot lawfully use. Based on my personal understanding of copyright law, doing so would clearly be infringement.

This would not convey a good impression, just as wsthomas mentioned. Exert more effort to demonstrate the imagery that aligns with your vision. Rough sketches in need of refinement are superior to art belonging to others, whether with or without permission. Similar to wsthomas, I think it unlikely a publisher would desire to be involved in such a project. Two obstacles are rather large. Not only are there legal issues, the publisher will not receive a true depiction of your vision. Public domain can even be a negative if merely a placeholder. Go original and rough. Refinement is an expectation. Avoid those monumental obstacles.

Horatio252's picture
Joined: 03/13/2011
Disaster Averted

I found all of my art assets all over again and they are all in the public domain. Thank you for the information. I was not trying to be a bad person, but I see how what I could have done was wrong.

teleruin's picture
Joined: 05/11/2012
A followup question to

A followup question to this.

Could you get in trouble for using graphics found on internet in the prototype stage ?
I mean at a stege where you just maybee sending some beta examples to playtesting groups.

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