Download

Avoiding accidental plagiarism

Dear All,
I’m making a mobile game and finished a main asset, one that will constantly be visible.
Recently I searched for how others made an object like this and found a very similar, almost identical one in the game The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. As I won’t be able to track down every asset out there to avoid a match, I’d like to ask you if this counts as plagiarism and has legal consequences once the game is for sale? Or “steal” would be only if I reverse engineer the game and use their mesh as mine?
Thanks in advance for the help.

If a main art asset in your game is close enough to something from a AAA studio that it could easily be mistaken as being lifted from it, you’re probably better off changing it in some way to make it different. Obviously you can’t hunt down to see if every last pixel was used elsewhere in a finished game, but you can always change what you’re at least aware of.

People often won’t accuse someone of plagiarism if it’s something like a real world historical artifact, like it sounds like yours might be (how many millions of recreations of the statue of david have been made?). Generally, if the thing in question is commonplace and generic in the real world and not a recreation of someone’s fictional work, you’re fine. But if it is a recreation of something that’s a part of someone else’s fictional work, that becomes very hard to defend as not having intentionally stolen since it’s just a matter of your word at that point. It’s entirely possible that you recreated the existing art without doing so intentionally, but it can be argued that it is still plagiarism if you do so.

Really, just use common sense. If you know it already exists as a part of someone else’s fiction, don’t use it, or at the very least do something to make it your own. You’re starting to get into some dangerous territory there if you aren’t willing to take the original content creators to court. It’s not really a clear, well defined line between what’s okay and what isn’t, but as you said it’s almost identical and that will not fly (people often say “change it 30%” but in practice that’s nowhere near enough for you to not get into trouble over it if the opposing party really wants to make a case).

Thanks for the advice.
While some of its parts were of our garage doors, they make the most match but I don’t risk it, should the game get popular, Bethesda would seize every opportunity to get a bit of extra coin.

Actually I gave it a second thought - we have a door (the object mentioned) at the attic, quite antique one but completely unusable, has been resting there already when I was born. That looks better than the one in Oblivion, I rather make that :smiley:

Thanks for sharing this with us