using photos of other's products as gfx in a game. legal??

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by jankoM, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. jankoM

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    Hi, I am sorry if answer is "OBVIOUSLY NO", but I just had to ask. Can I take photos of various things (like simple generic toys (balls, ruber toys), socks, pencils) and use images that I get in a commercial game without getting some aproval from producer of the items?

    I always thougth this is complete NONO, but I figured the other day that movies show 10000s of such objects and probably don't get/ask for approval for everything they show. For example imagine scene with bunch of old houses. Do they get approval from every door/window/trashbin/fence/brick/antenna producer included.

    LSM, Janko
     
  2. DanMarshall

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    I work in TV, which is probably quite similar to movies. Although I'm UK-based, and am not 100% on this, so take it with a pinch of salt.

    If we want to film a row of houses, we need to get permission from the local council who owns the road. Private dwellings' exterior features are covered in this.

    If we want to film inside someone's house, we need a release form for their property. Any artwork hanging on the wall needs to be shot around, or a release signed by the artist. Any books in the background need to be released if you can make out what they are. Likewise with DVD sleeves etc. If we film someone walking down the street, and a McDonald's sign is visible in the background for the whole shot, it'd probably need to be blurred in post.

    The key word really is 'feature'. If someone is in the background of a location we're cleared to film at, that's fine. If they 'feature' at all (say, looking at fruit in a market), we need to release them. If they speak at all, we definitely need a release.

    It's all about what you can get away with. We wouldn't need to get a release form from the people who make a lamp in the background, no. But that's not _featured_. Its more like an occupational hazard.

    I'd say if you're making a game -- especially for profit -- and you're looking at using photos of a Ninja Turtle for example, you'd need to approach the creators of the IP and the creators of the toy and get them to clear it. This'd involve sending them a solicitor-approved release form to sign, and you'd have to be completely honest about the game content, and the context their toy is used in.

    Can pretty much guarantee a 'no' from them... It's not worth the risk to them.

    But like I say, that's just my guess based on what we do here in the TV industry...
     
  3. Anthony Flack

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    Better play it safe and knit your own socks, and fashion your own pencils out of twigs. It's a lunatic world we live in all right. Useless IP nonsense creating ridiculous impediments to creators.

    Here's my typical I-am-not-a-lawyer advice coming atcha: if there's nothing obvious to differentiate the socks, balls and pencils from any other generic socks, balls, and pencils, then to hell with it. They're probably just some cheap no-namo junk from China anyway, right?
     
  4. digriz

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    I say fashion them out of clay. ;)
     
  5. Carolyn Ann

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    The basic premise is as Dan stated. You do need releases.

    I wouldn't waste time getting a lawyer (solicitor (UK) = lawyer (US)); if you're featuring a commercial entity, you need to have deep pockets before they will even look at a proposal.

    The purpose is to protect IP. After all, would you want someone using screenshots of your work to promote their own? Especially if they didn't ask permission!

    Oh - don't even think of trying to get away with it. "No one will know!" A lot of places make it their business to not only know, they also go after anyone who doesn't play by the rules. And I can imagine that would get expensive!

    Carolyn Ann
     
  6. bill

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    its really not that difficult a situation.

    a basketball is a fairly generic item. if you took a digital picture of a basketball (insert other balls like volley, base, soccer ...) that you own, as in puchased, you could use that digital representation in a game. Trouble would come if you showed the logo on the ball, which is owned by a specific company. Then you would need clearance from the IP owner. (you can always create your own creation logo in a photoshop program and slap it on the image)

    In the same way a homeowner grants a film company the rights to showcase the image of their house through a location permit, you as the owner of the ball has a right to use it a prop in your game or movie. Just don't show the company logo, because that has certain specific rights attached to it that would need clearance, license, or productplacement agreement.
     
  7. jankoM

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    very interesting answers, a little contadictory but I think they are all worth taking into account. Thanks Dan for clearing that out to me. If I try to combine Dan's, Antony's, Carolyn's and bill's post I get something like this: It can pass, if I use very generic items (without any recognisable link to a brand/company...) that I own, but there is a risk in that also.

    I don't know, if I am going with this socks game I will probably try to find some smaller local socks producer and make some deal. For other things (balls, rubbers, pencils...) i will probably try with generics, not sure yet.

    Thanks for answers, really! uh and digriz, if I tell you the truth I bougth clay after seenig Antony's Cletus Clay, for some strange reason my creatures didn't look that good, probably the wrong clay. ;)

    LSM, Janko
     
  8. Anthony Flack

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    Hmm, you probably just bought the regular clay. You want to get some magical wishing clay instead. It's a bit more expensive, but it's worth it!

    Seriously, it's times like this I am really glad I choose to fashion everything out of clay. But you've definitely got me interested with this talk of a sock game.
     
  9. jankoM

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    I am very interested how cletus clay will look as a game. Screenshots look so environmental/realistic/3d that it's hard to imagine it is made of 2d sprites that can move around and do stuff.. more like a stop motion cartoon than a game.

    About this socks game, I don't wana think about it too much until I finish current game, but I have few ideas that I do not know yet how would come out in reality. It should probably be game for kids, with many smaller games/exercises and socks seem interesting media to me, they come in various colors, patterns, sizes, and they come in pairs so i think many simple gameplays could be made with them, they can also be shaped, folded, twisted... so stop motion animated which seems wery interesting to me. I also liked mixing of drawn cartoon elements real stuff when I was a kid. I would like to put the whole thing in a story, something like "Topky's little socks factory", that would be in a forest in some animal world. I don't know... for now I have to finish current game which is not so interesting to do as dreaming out new ones.

    LSM, Janko
     
  10. digriz

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    Mmmmmm....animating sock puppets. :)

    Slightly OT here but, when is Cletus Clay coming out? I've been waiting ages to play it.
     
  11. Anthony Flack

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    Okay, apologies for the tangental discussion here, but -

    Cletus Clay is currently having a few problems. 90% of the development to date was done in 2003.

    But then I had a baby, and for the next 18 months I was the main caregiver, and I also worked in the evening. Now she is in daycare, but this coincides with me starting a full-time job and still working the night job. I'm regularly out of the house from 8am to 10pm these days.

    So the upshot is that game development is very, very sidelined at the moment. I still try to get some done at weekends though. I'm also saving all the money I'm making so that this time next year I can hopefully do the stuff I want to do. And I'm hoping Cletus will be finished before then, too. I am trying my best to get it finished, but a lot of the time I'm just too tired. Like right now, for example. A quick check of the forums and then bed. Maybe tomorrow I can do a bit of programming. It's hard though, because I really just want to relax, but I know I have work to do.
     

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