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Kuablaikan

Video games and infringement (Copyright and Trademark violation)

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Hello everypony! Firstly I would like to apologize for my not so good english. Secondly... I am planning to make some kind of MLP FiM adventure and fighting RPG game, but I faced with some copyright and trademark problems that may happen during this project. I am not sure what could cause problems, so here are my questions:

 

  1. If I create a game with “MLP FiM content” (means I would like to use characters, names and graphics style from MLP FiM) and some part of the game would be commercial (special items, characters, services, etc...) then would Hasbro shut this project down? (I guess yes.)
  2. Same question but I would NOT use any “MLP FiM content”, except the graphics style (so the story, the characters’ appearance, the characters’ name, the world and the place names, etc... would be different, but your character is still a pony and the game still contains buildings, trees, sceneries, etc... which is not the same but looks familiar to MLP FiM). I would not copy anything directly from the show but I would like to create something similar.
  3. Same, but everything would be different, even the graphics style (retro pixel graphics style, but the game is still about ponies and some part of the game is still commercial). (In this case there should be no problems, I guess.)
  4. I create the same game that I mentioned in the first point, but it would be totally free. (In this case Hasbro has the rights to shut down the project but they won’t because of the fandom, I guess)
 

Thanks for your answers!

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I'm not a lawyer, but generally you want to distance your project as much from MLP as possible. Your second point could lead to quite a few grey areas, I remember a steam greenlight game that got in quite a bit of trouble because of its graphical style.

 

3 might be ok if you distance your world enough from the original and create everything from your own narrative. Hasbro doesn't own the idea of a pony based world to my knowledge, but you may raise a few eyebrows if your world looks too close to theirs. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but if you're developing with original content and hold no association or implied association with MLP, you're probably in the clear.

 

Oh, and releasing for free doesn't mean anything. That hasn't stopped gamefreak from killing fangames.

Edited by Celtore
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See a lawyer before taking step 1.  Asking us normal people for advice on this kind of topic will only get you into trouble.

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1. Hasbro have legal rights to shut it down

 

2. As long as it doesn't look to similar it should be okay.

 

3. Hasbro doesn't own the rights to ponies so you should be fine.

 

4. It doesn't matter if it's free. Hasbro can and probably will shut it down.

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1. Hasbro have legal rights to shut it down

 

 

Even worse: In that case I have heard that they would be required to do this upon finding out about such a project, as they can lose rights if they don't do so! I wouldn't want to work my flank off just to figure this out later, and so shouldn't you, Kuablaikan  ^_^

 

I am not really sure how picky Hasbro is, but they seem to be pretty okay with fan projects (as long as they don't include the Mane 6 and other characters from the show etc.). It should be fine if it doesn't include these things, but they still are in their rights to shut your project down if they feel the itch to do so. 

 

To my knowledge, there has been one time where Hasbro requested a fan game to be taken down (because it included the Mane 6), and that was with the Fighting is Magic game. But fortunately, they could continue the game, just with different characters. Here's some reading for ya: link

Edited by Amaterasupony
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Hello everypony! Firstly I would like to apologize for my not so good english. Secondly... I am planning to make some kind of MLP FiM adventure and fighting RPG game, but I faced with some copyright and trademark problems that may happen during this project. I am not sure what could cause problems, so here are my questions:
 
  1. If I create a game with “MLP FiM content” (means I would like to use characters, names and graphics style from MLP FiM) and some part of the game would be commercial (special items, characters, services, etc...) then would Hasbro shut this project down? (I guess yes.)
  2. Same question but I would NOT use any “MLP FiM content”, except the graphics style (so the story, the characters’ appearance, the characters’ name, the world and the place names, etc... would be different, but your character is still a pony and the game still contains buildings, trees, sceneries, etc... which is not the same but looks familiar to MLP FiM). I would not copy anything directly from the show but I would like to create something similar.
  3. Same, but everything would be different, even the graphics style (retro pixel graphics style, but the game is still about ponies and some part of the game is still commercial). (In this case there should be no problems, I guess.)
  4. I create the same game that I mentioned in the first point, but it would be totally free. (In this case Hasbro has the rights to shut down the project but they won’t because of the fandom, I guess)
 
Thanks for your answers!

 

Hasbro will almost certainly NOT shut it down. Ignore people saying they probably will, that is just foolish! Hasbro encourages games and lots of other stuff. The only game they have ever shut down is fighting is magic, and thats only because it was the polar opposite of what the show was trying to portray! If you wanted too, though, you COULD protect yourself by making all the ponies in the game Original characters, maybe even based off of people on the forums original characters

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Hasbro will almost certainly NOT shut it down. Ignore people saying they probably will, that is just foolish! Hasbro encourages games and lots of other stuff. The only game they have ever shut down is fighting is magic, and thats only because it was the polar opposite of what the show was trying to portray! If you wanted too, though, you COULD protect yourself by making all the ponies in the game Original characters, maybe even based off of people on the forums original characters

 

As with most things in life ... truth resists simplicity.

 

Two factors are applied by Hasbro or its licensed third parties when a cease and desist is issued:

 

Is it monetized?

What is the visibility?

 

Visibility is a common determinant in Trademark cases, and US law requires the IP owner to defend their Trademarks or legally lose access to them.

 

If Hasbro can state 'not commonly available or publicized' they can look the other way, which they do often. Fighting is Magic received more publicity due to being showcased at an industry event ... so Hasbro had to kill it. They had no choice or a claim could be made that they relinquished their Trademark.

 

I actually appeared in deposition to protect a software copyright and trademark for Ford Motor Company when I worked on their CuDL project. Industry visibility is why we had to file to protect it.

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As with most things in life ... truth resists simplicity.

 

Two factors are applied by Hasbro or its licensed third parties when a cease and desist is issued:

 

Is it monetized?

What is the visibility?

 

Visibility is a common determinant in Trademark cases, and US law requires the IP owner to defend their Trademarks or legally lose access to them.

 

If Hasbro can state 'not commonly available or publicized' they can look the other way, which they do often. Fighting is Magic received more publicity due to being showcased at an industry event ... so Hasbro had to kill it. They had no choice or a claim could be made that they relinquished their Trademark.

 

I actually appeared in deposition to protect a software copyright and trademark for Ford Motor Company when I worked on their CuDL project. Industry visibility is why we had to file to protect it.

I realize they can shut it down, but the chance of it actually happening is close to 0, All pony artwork is technically copyrighted too. They could sue artists and such, but they don't do that. So making something in RPGMAKER wouldn't be too much. And what about live in equestria? That didn't get shut down. 

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Hasbro will almost certainly NOT shut it down. Ignore people saying they probably will, that is just foolish! Hasbro encourages games and lots of other stuff. The only game they have ever shut down is fighting is magic, and thats only because it was the polar opposite of what the show was trying to portray! If you wanted too, though, you COULD protect yourself by making all the ponies in the game Original characters, maybe even based off of people on the forums original characters

 

They can, and possibly would. Sure they love fan content and people doing things to advertise and show off their property, but they will only go so far. Small flash games and the like, sure.. but the bigger the project, the more they are likely to get involved. Even if it is free, you are still taking their property and creating something that they could see as potentially harmful to their trademark rights.

 

If you are interested in creating a game, why not just leave MLP out of it... make it about original characters as you mentioned, or contact Hasbro themselves for permission. The worst they will do is say no.... which is a hell of a lot better than getting too deeply into a project to have someone send you a nasty letter telling you to cut it out.

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Thanks all the answers and advices!

 

If I decide to make this, I will distance my project as far as possible: retro pixel graphics, new story with new characters and names, no cutie marks (but tattoos would be in the game), the world would be different and the players could choose between several species (not only ponies). I hope these will be fine. I am so excited! ^_^  I have so many plans and ideas about this game... I will also need artists because I am not good at arts, I am a programmer. But... first of all I need to plan a lot.

 

I would not create this game with some kind of "RPG maker" or with anything like that. I am planning to use the Unity3D engine.  ;)

 

By the way... the “alicorn” expression for pegasus ponies with horns did come from Hasbo? Because if so then I should came up with another word for this.

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Generally Hasbro isn't going to care. They only really shut down projects and such when they become super popular. Fighting is magic is the only fan game I can think of that got a C&D. As long as your game doesn't become super super popular it wont be a problem as far as I can see.

 

People also have a tendency to over estimate how popular there work will be too. There are many animation projects that passed 2 million views without a C&D. You'd have to be crazy popular imo to get a C&D. One animator I can think of that got one was JanAnimations. But he was crazy popular too. As well Double Rainboom got a C&D after it released.

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Generally Hasbro isn't going to care. They only really shut down projects and such when they become super popular. Fighting is magic is the only fan game I can think of that got a C&D. As long as your game doesn't become super super popular it wont be a problem as far as I can see.

 

People also have a tendency to over estimate how popular there work will be too. There are many animation projects that passed 2 million views without a C&D. You'd have to be crazy popular imo to get a C&D. One animator I can think of that got one was JanAnimations. But he was crazy popular too. As well Double Rainboom got a C&D after it released.

I don't think they shut down fighting is magic because it was popular. This is a common misconception, they shut it down because it ran contrary to the shows values, at least in my opinion. It's supposed to be a show about love and friendship, and someone makes a game like street fighter with ponies

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Twilight Escape (my fan game) wasn't shut down. I included a disclaimer at the start just in case, and it's a free game. So it IS possible, you just need to be careful with it.

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C%2526D.jpg

     This is a post about clearing the air of any C&D worries. I wanted to break down just how legally safe this all is once and for all since the majority of comments I see for this game revolve around conversations of "this will be taken down because X looks like Y".

     Hopefully some explanation combined with the game's recent graphical update on Steam Greenlight will put those Cease & Desist concerns to rest.
__________________________________________________________

I wrote a whole article about this a year ago on my development blog. Take a look.

Read More: "So, About BGP's New Look and Copyright..."

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I'm crossing my fingers that my Weather Factory Meltdown game will get a bye because I'm building it as a parody.

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