Homage/ Referencing.

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by DanMarshall, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. Jim Buck

    Indie Author

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    I got the feeling he meant to send a letter saying "OK, no problem" and then not actually removing the offending content.
     
  2. Dom

    Dom
    Original Member

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    Err... no.
    1) the letter you receive is unlikely to be polite.
    2) If you DELIBERATELY used something (i.e. attempted to pass off your goods as theirs) you are liable to be sued for ALL profits made, as well as their legal costs.
    3) Maybe not the worst case, but the common case that happens is: You get on a portal. Someone complains that you are infringing trademark/copyright etc. Portal will remove you from the listings (they would also be liable!). Ok, so you get a new version out later, but a 2nd release is never going to be as good as the first. And chances are it will have to be delayed by a month or two as other games will be coming out. All in all you will lose a big chunk of revenue from this.


    On the other hand, parodies are allowed by law. The important thing to do is make sure that you clearly distinguish that you are in no way related to the original IP holder. Put in disclaimers (like South Park). Change the names to be silly versions. Make sure it is clearly identifiable as a parody to even the most stupid person.

    <Edit>
    Taking the cases in the original post:

    Mentioning John Woo (as in a character saying 'wow this is like a John Woo film!') will probably not annoy John Woo.

    Using a dead Doom-esque marine on the floor - well, if you make the model yourself and dont pinch the data/textures from doom itself then no problems. After all, Doom uses a fairly generic sci-fi marine type character anyway.

    Giant Sam & Max heads - best ask 1st for this one. Probably no problem if you tell them its a homage - they have a habit of trying to stick Sam & Max heads somewhere in all their subsequent games anway (the theatre lights in Monkey Island 4 is the latest Ive found). Just be polite, tell them its a homage, you love their games, and its only a small example & they'll probably be happy. You certainly cant be harmed for asking.
     
    #22 Dom, Apr 21, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2005
  3. Pyabo

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    No, not at all... if someone bothered to send me a C&D for something I included as an incidental in my game, I would comply. Not complying would be inviting trouble.
     
  4. eatsleepindie

    eatsleepindie New Member

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    This is a legal grey area, but I would advise against taking legal advice from a game development forum. LawGuru.com is a free site where you can seek advice from someone in this particular area.

    There are several references to older games in these replies and I am willing to bet laws have changed significantly since then. The real question is whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze. Is the homage you're making worth what could result should your game find success and/or get noticed by Mr. Woo or anyone affiliated with Doom? Perhaps a very obscure or subtle reference that only die-hard fans will get is the better option here, but again that's playing with dice. There is nothing that says they cannot sue you, only after said lawsuit will you really get your answer (unless you contact them directly and ask permission). Doom does not have a copyright on space marines, but they could very well have a claim on any model that looks significantly similar to theirs. They also have a lot of funding and an entire team of lawyers dedicated to protecting their IP. Copyright and IP law is a very complicated beast, as highlighted by the recent drama between PewDiePie and Campo Santo.

    Also, consider the following: a lot of people put a lot of time into what you are referencing, just as you are likely putting a lot of time into your game. Be that Mr. Woo's time spent on movies and becoming a household name or whatever movie/game you are considering referencing, and they are likely to want to protect that investment. In fact one could easily make the argument that they have a legal obligation to do so on behalf of their investors. People tend to be very protective of the things they create, and rightly so. Campo Santo was fine with PewDiePie streaming their game until one day they weren't. Mr. Woo may very well have had bad experiences in the past when it comes to these things and you don't want to be on the receiving end of what resulted from another persons complete lack of respect for his name, his likeness, etc.

    Going against the very first thing I said and offering advice, I would suggest contacting them directly, hiring a team of lawyers in preparation, or simply not playing with fire at all.
     
  5. metateen

    Moderator Indie Author

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    Homages' are pretty easy to pull off and won't cost to much of a problem, if it's a complete rip of a scene. It'll cause attention.
     

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