Would this be legal?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by kglarsen, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. kglarsen

    kglarsen New Member

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    In a sports sim.... Would it be legal to take eg. Manchester United and call them "Manfreds Unity" but still have player name in the team, such as Michael Owen, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney etc.?

    As I see it, I'm not using the Manchester United brand, but by comparing the fictional (Though highly inspired) team name and the names of the players on the team, I could still be voilating the law?
     
  2. HL706

    HL706 New Member

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    I remember playing New Star Soccer 3 a few years back and that launched with real player names and real team names. However, I do remember there being a patch which changed the vowels of player names due to some legal issues. As far as I can recall the team names were fine.

    I'm pretty sure you'll need a FIFPro license if you want to use the names of players legitimately - which would be very expensive for an Indie endeavour.
     
  3. Roman Budzowski

    Indie Author

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    I'm not expert here, but I believe player names are copyrighted too (or trademarked or whatever) and you need a license for them. That's way those budget ski jumping games have Adam Maszysz instead of Adam Malysz.
     
  4. Fry Crayola

    Original Member

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    Players' image rights are a big deal, so without a license you simply cannot use them. You'll have to rename them in some way.

    A lot of games simply change the vowels around (New Star Soccer and the recent Xbox Live Arcade version of Sensible World of Soccer did this), others alter the names whilst leaving them recognisable (older versions of PES did that, though their licenses are improving).
     
  5. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    It's not legal and you can't do it. Footballers tend to capitalise on their names by endorsing products in exchange for large bags of money, so they simply wouldn't tolerate an implied endorsement of any kind.
     
  6. dantheman363

    dantheman363 New Member

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    No this does not sound legal, I would advise changing the names of everything.
     
  7. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Not legal. When I worked on Grand Slam Baseball we had to license teams and players separately - Virgin ultimately decided to go with real players and made up teams.

    One work around is to have a system that lets players modify names/profiles and to expose that data so it can be shared between players. This also lets gamers come up with historical players.
     
  8. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    As others have said, it's not legal. The swapping the vowels thing is the easiest way around it as you still end up with almost readable names.

    Another vote for adding an edit feature in. This way the player can change them if they really want to.
     
  9. Adrian Lopez

    Original Member

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    You could get in trouble even for using disguised identities, just as EA did last year. I don't know how that lawsuit turned out, but as an indie you want to avoid being sued in the first place so you'd better avoid even the implication of a connection between your virtual players and their real-life equivalents.

    I'd use completely invented names and allow players to modify these names and profiles as Lennard suggests.
     
  10. jlv

    jlv New Member

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    It the US at least, it is legal to depict real players in your game. It has held up in court several times in the last few years. Here's a recent example -

    http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/CBS_Interactive_v._NFL

    That doesn't mean you won't get sued anyway. Also, if it weren't legal I seriously doubt misspelling names would help you much.
     

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