I’ve been developing an indie game and have a question about licensing GitHub directories and indie game software projects.
Currently myself and a couple other collaborators on the game project share a GitHub and frequently distribute cooked builds to a small community of players participating in our development process.
I’m not quite sure how to license the software such that if it were to be stolen, hacked, accessed, or somehow reconstructed from our cooked packages, I would have legal ownership rights of the software and product we’ve been developing. My attempts to research the topic with GitHub lead to discussions about how to license software for open-source use. Our software, however, is most certainly not open-source and hides behind a private repository.
I am not sure how you would claim it was yours a single person, but, if you really want to cover yourself, setting up a company to pull property is super easy and most effective.
Now, with that said, your NDA and legal “power” is only as good as your ability to enforce and pay for it. Example: as is, i pull your stuff and claim my own and dev on top of what you have, release and start making money on your stuff … or whatever, this is just a hypothetical situation
Do you have the legal and monetary backing to come after me? Would your current bank account situation (and im not saying it cant …) sustain a legal battle over it?
Its not a matter of “oh what can i do to protect myself” its “can i afford and am i willing to”. This was the question that was brought up by my lawyer when i was making an NDA for international programmers. I asked “what if they take my stuff?” and the reply was “normally, your screwed, but, thats why we are here”. If you cant afford to go to court and pony up the money for a legal battle, then, your wasting your time (and anyone elses) setting up legal speed-bumps.
I hate to sound harsh here, or, a bit on the “negative” side, but, when it all boils down, all these legal licenses setup dont amount to a hill of beans unless you (you being the general term of the person claiming ownership) cant enforce it yourself (legally and via money). That is the reality of it all.
Making a company is something I’ve been pondering for a while, especially considering we’re about to start investing more serious capital into higher quality models for the game we’ve been working on. Up until now, our largest investments have been stuff off the UE4 / Unity marketplace. I’ve learned I may be able to write development-related expenses off on my taxes.
I have the money to sustain a legal battle should it ever occur. My most critical investment into this project has been a lot of my time.
I was wondering about such a scenario where someone malicious gained access to the source files, stole them, and built on top of it on their own.
Would the presence or absence of the proper LICENSE.txt file provide or revoke any legal action on my end? Like, if I didn’t have a certain license written in there, is it free for the taking if anyone gets into these files?
Does a lock door keep people from breaking in? no, the best way to put things is this: locks keep honest people honest.
You can toss in 1,000 license files and legal “this thats and whatevers” but ppl will … well … take your stuff regardless.
I setup my local company, then, pushed to an LLC and will be pushing for an LLC Corp in a few months. This covers me in a million ways. Also, i dont need to “stake claims” to my stuff. Its all under my company. Even Legal Zoom offers services for a year (free i think) for such issues. Legal advice, lawyers, etc… its really lovely.
But like i said “locks keep honest people honest”
Also - side note … i only give the advice based on experience, or, advice provided to me by someone that has … the ability to give the advice lol
You are asking legal questions/advice on a forum for a game engine. I have seen several on here become instant “internet lawyers” so be careful lol. I would get some sound legal advice from a legal site (sometimes more confusing then not) or a lawyer (generally, talk is free).
Also to questionnaire, I don’t claim to be an IP lawyer but you may want to trademark the game title/logo/brand. That way even though the data is being shared among third party developers you are the owner of the brand itself. If someone steals your underlying code and game structure to create a different game with all different characters, title, logo and everything else then not only will it cost to go after them but you may not even win the case.