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Unreal Engine Livestream - Demystifying Copyright & Trademark for Developers - Jan 11 - Live from Epic HQ

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WHAT
Copyright and trademark laws are often complex and obscure, especially regarding their enforcement in video games. Canon Pence, Epic’s General Counsel, will cover some basics of such laws, while conducting a Q&A for our audience to ask all questions related to copyright and trademark.

Post any questions you have for the team in the comments below and we’ll gather them to be answered on the livestream.

WHEN
Thursday, January 11th @ 2:00PM ET - Countdown

WHERE
Twitch
Youtube
Facebook

WHO
Canon Pence - General Counsel
Amanda Bott - Community Manager - @amandambott](http://twitter.com/amandambott)

ARCHIVE
https://youtube.com/watch?v=4A4t2bleTR0

My questions:

  1. If I want to create a scene for a game, showing the White House and all the surrounding buildings, or maybe Eifel Tower, or a New York scene showing the Trump Tower, am I infringing a copyright even if I create the assets myself, but they are still not replicas but visual approximation of the real ones (they were not based on the engineering blueprints)?

  2. In the case the answer for the question 1 are that Im infringing copyrights, what if I do not call those cities by their real names, make them look different in appearance, but by the story being told they still transport the audience to the context of those cities/places?

  3. Use of mythological characters: Minotaur, BigFoot, etc or not so mythological, since there is no proof of their existence besides monuments: Egyptian gods and kings or characters depicted in the Bible or characters depicted in old texts like: Iliad and Odyssey from Homer.

The reason for my questions is to understand how accurate we can tell a story based on places/constructions that carry a well known name, like the ones I examplified, since the most obvious fact is that the story need the visualization of those places/constructions. In the very case, there are plausible doubt on the infringiment, I will need to completely reshape the story and assets being constructed for my game title under development.

I might add more doubts if others’ questions give me more to think about.

Do indie devs have copyright inspections? For example: You have a game on steam, using assets that you’ve bought legally from for example unreal marketplace.

The question is: Can the creator of that assets ask you for a proof of purchase?

Thanks. Have a nice day.

+1 … Any strict legal guidelines / general tips for:

A. Using popular Tourist Attractions in games: Great-Wall-of-China, Machu-Picchu, Angkor-Wat + Italy (all-of).

B. Creating open-world games based on cities with signature skylines: (Hong-Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Venice).

C. Car games using the likeness of well-known SportsCar brands like **Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, **McLaren.

Examples:
*Watchdogs / * Assassin’s Creed / GTA / Sleeping Dogs / Saints Row / Driver-SF etc.

Even if visuals are made safe copyright-wise, what about Engine Sound-FX: acceleration / gear changes?
Big studios do a great job of stepping up to the copyright line it seems, but never actually crossing over it. :stuck_out_tongue:

+1 … Any advice / strict legal guidelines / general tips for:

A. Using popular Tourist Attractions in games: Great-Wall-of-China, Machu-Picchu, Angkor-Wat + Italy (all-of).

B. Creating open-world games based on cities with signature skylines: (Hong-Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Venice).

C. Car games using the likeness of well-known SportsCar brands like **Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, **McLaren.

Examples:
*Watchdogs / * Assassin’s-Creed / GTA / Sleeping-Dogs / Saints-Row / Driver-SF etc.

Even if visuals are made safe copyright-wise, what about Engine Sound-FX: acceleration / gear changes?
Big studios do a great job of stepping up to the copyright line it seems, but never actually crossing over it. :stuck_out_tongue:

+1 … Any advice / strict legal guidelines / general tips for:

A. Using popular Tourist Attractions in games: Great-Wall-of-China, Machu-Picchu, Angkor-Wat + Italy (all-of).

B. Creating open-world games based on cities with signature skylines: (Hong-Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Venice).

C. Car games using the likeness of well-known SportsCar brands like **Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, **McLaren.

Examples:
*Cityscapes: Watchdogs / * Assassin’s-Creed / Sleeping-Dogs / Driver-San-Francisco.
Car likeness: *GTA-series / Just-Cause-series / Saints-Row-series / Sleeping-Dogs. *

Even if visuals are made ‘Copyright-safe’, what about Car-Engine Sound-FX: acceleration / gear changes?
Big studios often do a great job of stepping right-up to the copyright line, but never actually crossing over it. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d like to know the definitive guide to “lookalike” products. Things such as cars, guns, etc. What is the threshold for when it becomes too much like the thing it’s meant to resemble/fill the niche of? For example a game world may need a super-car, or a pistol. It seems counter-intuitive to not borrow from the design styles of recognizable real-world items and by art’s very nature many of the specific design choices of those items are just not going to be replicated. Specifically: a gun (that was a detail on a character, not the primary asset itself) that was glock-like was denied recently, but I can find many real-world guns that are glock-like in their styling that haven’t faced legal challenge.

I’d also like to know if there are examples of game devs being hit for copyright infringement over using authentic or close-to-authentic firearms in their games, as this seems to be the place most games will fall afoul of. Things that have actually happened.

Finally, is this concern greater for the UE marketplace than it is for game devs? A weapons pack capitalizing directly on a firearm design seems to be a bigger single violation than the appearance of a gun in a game, or the gun being part of the detail of a character.

The final question is the elephant in the room: several sellers have been selling assets named and styled identically to real world firearms for some time. What’s likely to be their course of action? Modification of the assets past the threshold discussed above? And when will that happen?

+1

In the marketplace you can buy weapon packs, for example:

Is it safe to use these marketplace assets in our games? Or we should avoid this?

Continued with that, if we buy a pack from the marketplace and its taken down by these “new” guidelines by the marketplace team, will us consumers be contacted automatically concerning refunds since we cant use them anymore?

if I take pics of lets say a brick or stone wall and it shows a unique brick style in which it was placed or even a unique brick or stone itsself and I use it in a game as a material or texture am I in infringement if the material in the game looks exactly like the picture of the brick or stone?

What is the position regarding company logo and or name, maybe in a period game? For example, Wells Fargo would be typical of something written on the side of a building in a wild west game, but the company still exists today…?
Also, if I decide to do a ‘lookalike’ sign in a similar script, how would that work (In the above example, ‘Fells Wargo’ or somesuch?) or an iterpretation of Coca Cola in a futuristic game (same script and colours but different words)
Finally, what happens if I create a logo innocently which some established company claims is too similar to thier existing logo?
Thanks! :slight_smile:

How can I protect all the visuals for my game?

Specifically, my character & environment designs are really important to me, and I don’t want to showcase my project until I have all my visuals protected. What is the typical way to go about that? Should I copyright each character design? The 2d concept as well as the 3d model? Would I have to pay a lawyer fee for each character / environment piece individually ? Or do you record a video with all of your content in it and do the entirety?

Sorry, one more question!
What happens if I commission someone to (for example) create a 3d model, but then it turns out that model was actually stolen from someone else (i.e. was not actually the work of the guy I paid money to). What is my legal position?

  1. For a sports game, who needs to pay to have the products of the brands like Adidas and Nike available in the game? The developer as a license, or the manufacturer as advertising/sponsorship?

  2. I’m assuming the actual logos and names of Nike and Adidas can’t be used without permission. But what about the exact copies of the products without the name and logo on them? Do they need to be changed slightly? If yes, how much, for example a shoe or a soccer ball?

Yes. You can be audited, but usually someone has to pay for said audit so it only usually happens if someone makes a legal claim against your company. Laws probably differ per-country though.

Which should be the minimum legal requirements by Epic Games to deploy a game by using UE4?. Do I have to work on a studio team if I decide to send my project to an indie’s program?.

Thats a very intertesting topic… Right before the release of Ubisofts Ghost Recon Wildlands the bolivian government call Ubisoft for not using Bolivia in they’re fictitious game storry, cause people could assume that Bolivia is really like in the ghost recon storry. However Ubisoft obviously did not take the name Bolivia out of they’re game. So even when it comes to copyright, they are some borders to claim them. Looking forward to the stream to understand where this borders are…

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/a…wildlands.aspx

That particular case thou is not related to copyright, it is also important as an example, because a game “must” make sure to enforce and be explicit that it is a fictional and artistic work, before reaching something like the case above. The most Bolivia would get from this is that “maybe” France will ask for the game developer to put in the splash screen for the game in big words that it does not relate to anything or imply to anything happening at the present Bolivia state of affairs or public order, therefore remaining a fictional work. “Maybe” also include that the intention was to show the beauty of Bolivia landscapes and a fictional story. They will hardly get anything better than this.

I would love to hear something about this from the stream participant!

I would like to know if it’s better for a one man team to release the game as a private person (on Steam), or create a small company and then publish it with that :slight_smile:
​Thank you :slight_smile:

Im not an expert on this at all… So Bolivia had or has no chance infront of a court to prohbit Ubisoft from using they’re countrys name for Ghost Recon. But what about LA and the Hollywood sign from what i have heard you cant use Los Angeles “the name” in a game or movie without paying foir it… the same goes for the Hollywood Sign. It’s just confusing what you can use and what not, im not sure but i remember about a clip Jäger saying “old developer of Dead Island 2” that they had to pay to use the words Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.