Last week, The Game Awards named Skyrim mod Enderal the Best Fan Creation of 2016 after two of the four nominees were pulled from the awards. One of the projects whose nominations were rescinded was Pokemon Uranium, a fan-made Pokemon game many years in the making. The other was Another Metroid 2 Remake (AM2R), a project that infused more modern gameplay conventions into a remake of Metroid 2. At the heart of it all is legal action by Nintendo against the creators of those projects for copyright infringement. If you are making fan game or mod, you might be worried about what these high-profile developments mean for your work. Why are Enderal (a total conversion mod of Skyrim) and Brutal Doom 64 (an enhanced port of another fan project for the N64 iteration of Doom) allowed to be distributed and recognized while the other two are no longer available to download? To learn about the legal issues and how people who wish to make fan projects can navigate this delicate territory, read on. Continue Reading ->
Galaxy In Turmoil is a game in development by Frontwire Studios that heavily uses Star Wars assets owned by Disney. They have received a fair amount of media attention lately after their claim that Valve agreed to distribute GiT on Steam. Additionally, despite explicitly calling the game “the next installment in the Battlefront series” without a license to do so, they claim that what they’re doing is legal—allegedly according to their legal team. However, it would be perilous for other game studios to follow their example. Here’s why:
First off, some of the legal statements they make (again, supposedly coming from their legal team) are so inaccurate that I’m inclined to suspect it’s all a publicity stunt and/or trolling job. I’m also extremely skeptical that Valve reps would deal directly with them given how early in development the game is, as well as how young the studio is—blatant, unauthorized use of Disney’s IP notwithstanding. Their Florida LLC was registered just this past April, and their Youtube channel’s uploads date back to January.
My legal commentary below is not directed against the developers themselves, nor is it to be taken as legal advice. The purpose of this article is to educate game developers and any other interested readers on a business decision by Frontwire, as well as on comments the studio has made about the legality of GiT. The danger arising from those comments is that others might follow Frontwire’s example and give their assertions actual legal credence–possibly incurring consequences. Frontwire frequently misstates copyright law, as I will demonstrate below. Further, every studio’s situation is different—especially when dealing with the heavily fact-dependent area of law that is copyright infringement/fair use. Frontwire’s FAQ page and public comments should NOT be taken as legal advice, legal research, or a model for your own development or business practices.
A. The Relationship Between Copyright Infringement and Fair Use Continue Reading ->
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