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MaresFillies

Fan-Made Pony Games Legality

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Hey everypony,

I just have general question about fan made pony games. Let's say hypothetically if I build a fan game based on MLP:FIM how could I prevent myself from getting in trouble. Do I just release it anonymously? How would I do that? XD

 

Edited by MaresFillies
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Well to be honest as long as you credit the trademarks as being owned by Hasbro and the game is completely free to play as a non profit fan project then you would be safe. Anyways if it was going to be a profit game you would have to do a legal agreement contract with Hasbro and probably a portion of the profit from the game will go to Hasbro. Anyways if the game becomes way too popular then Hasbro would likely take it down because it would start effecting their sales and they can't allow that at any cost. Anyways this is just my advice and it's very accurate! :)  

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More than likely it may hit a issues if it gets enough popularity, even if it's free. Hasbro might (and has) gone after completely-free projects and shut them down with cease and desist orders. I can't remember the exacts of it, but if I recall correctly, it has to do with a strange setup of how copyright and trademark laws operate--part of ensuring you maintain exclusive rights to your intellectual property and the like in particular cases depends on how you've behaved regarding protecting it in the past, as in, you have to actively defend your trademark and crud for it to keep as high of a level of protection. Even if it loses Hasbro some public favor/revenue, it's legally in its best interest to go after really notable fan projects that are infringing on trademarks/copyrights that they own, for the sake of being able to better secure their property in cases where it's damaging, or just in general.

I could be wrong (I am NOT well versed in this stuff), but that's what I recall/can find online regarding the matter. Honestly I think if you want to get to completion, you're better of not advertising it/releasing it when it's already complete, or simply keep it quiet/unimpressive. Plenty of fan stuff isn't touched, it's more when something is particularly notable that it seems to get sniped.

I did find a few things to glance at, though:

https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/BasicFacts.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark_infringement

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/investigation-are-fan-games-legal

 

And, it's noteworthy that fangames have been shut down by companies in the past even when they're free, Hasbro included. I particularly remember them shutting down Fighting is Magic, a really promising fighter using the mane 6 characters, which I think was going to be free and expanded to include other characters from the show. The staff of the fan project stopped/scrapped it after receiving a cease and desist letter from Hasbro, and went on to instead work on successfully fund Them's Fightin' Herds on Indigogo (and if I recall, Lauren Faust even got involved at that point and helped them with world-building the world for TFH). Though, I've still seen some conventions playing modified/unmodified builds of the game at conventions, as they had gotten far enough to make it playable, and people still had digital copies of the leaked build when development died.

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The only way for a fan game to not break copyright law is to have permission from the owner of the copyright. It doesn't matter if it's free or not.

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8 hours ago, Techno Universal said:

Well to be honest as long as you credit the trademarks as being owned by Hasbro and the game is completely free to play as a non profit fan project then you would be safe. 

Actually, crediting the trademarks would have the opposite effect since by doing so you're admitting to breaking copyright law, and making the game free has little to no effect. 

 

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I'm not too sure...but...if it's not for a profit, you should be OK. And it has to be stated as such! Getting money to pay for stuff is fine. (... Like paying for a project and ppl with donations/sponsors/whatever else - like a nonprofit/noncommercial would.)

P.S. This is not legal advice, jsyk. 

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9 hours ago, MaresFillies said:

Hey everypony,

I just have general question about fan made pony games. Let's say hypothetically if I build a fan game based on MLP:FIM how could I prevent myself from getting in trouble. Do I just release it anonymously? How would I do that? XD

 

You couldn't. Period.

If you release it, anonymously or otherwise, then it is up to Hasbro whether they want to do anything about it. Maybe they won't care and nothing would happen, but going by situations in the past, I would say it is a better than fair bet they would care.

Making it free would have no bearings on any of it. If you really want to make a game based on MLP, your best bet is to talk to Hasbro, and be honest about it.... tell them your intentions. if you have a working prototype show it to them... there is a fair chance they will say no.... but if you have something to show them, are honest about your intentions, and are keeping it a simple MLP game people can play around with, they may give you permission. Only then would you be in the clear. Also by going this route you set up a working relationship with them that could lead to bigger and better things.

 

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1 hour ago, Yamet said:

Actually, crediting the trademarks would have the opposite effect since by doing so you're admitting to breaking copyright law, and making the game free has little to no effect. 

 

Well I wonder why every single MLP free internet flash game I've seen mentions: MY LITTLE PONY FIM IS OWNED BY HASBRO in the credits or on the title screen? :) 

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4 minutes ago, Techno Universal said:

Well I wonder why every single MLP free internet flash game I've seen mentions: MY LITTLE PONY FIM IS OWNED BY HASBRO in the credits or on the title screen?

How do you know all those flash games did not get permission?

It also depends upon the type of game. Many little flash games are not always considered "games" by many people and as such very often fly under the interest of a large company like Hasbro. Obviously if they become super popular that could change... but more often than not they are little programs people spend a few minutes with and then move on to something else. Programmers have the copyright on there so no one will think they are claiming ownership of the characters or property. If Hasbro wants to go after them for the "game", that disclaimer will not help them at all.

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Just now, Techno Universal said:

Well I wonder why every single MLP free internet flash game I've seen mentions: MY LITTLE PONY FIM IS OWNED BY HASBRO in the credits or on the title screen? :) 

It is a very common misconception, and the people making said flash games doesn't have the time or the will to find out if it's actually true or not. 

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Just now, GrimGrimoire said:

How do you know all those flash games did not get permission?

It also depends upon the type of game. Many little flash games are not always considered "games" by many people and as such very often fly under the interest of a large company like Hasbro. Obviously if they become super popular that could change... but more often than not they are little programs people spend a few minutes with and then move on to something else. Programmers have the copyright on there so no one will think they are claiming ownership of the characters or property. If Hasbro wants to go after them for the "game", that disclaimer will not help them at all.

Plus knowing how rigid Hasbro is they will never allow you to legally use their trademark if you try to do a legal agreement or get proper permission for it. Anyways the official MLP game is actually developed by Gameloft and that's a 3rd party company but still what I believe is happening in this situation is that Hasbro is simply hiring Gameloft to develop and manage the game for them. Also a part of the agreement is probably that a portion of the profit goes to Gameloft while the rest goes to Hasbro. :)

6 minutes ago, Yamet said:

It is a very common misconception, and the people making said flash games doesn't have the time or the will to find out if it's actually true or not. 

Yeah plus if the programmers try to get legal permission from Hasbro. Hasbro would just give them a straight up no to it because of how rigid the company is with their trademarks. :)  

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Just now, Techno Universal said:

Plus knowing how rigid Hasbro is they will never allow you to legally use their trademark if you try to do a legal agreement or get proper permission for it.

How do you know? Have you tried?

What usually happens is either..

A: Someone just makes the thing, and then after they get told to shut it down... THEN they try to work with Hasbro or make some sort of deal. A little late by then.. you have already went behind their backs and only want to play ball after getting a cease and desist. It does not put you on good terms with the company and just shows you have no respect for the law or their property claims. They have no reason to waste their time with someone like that.

B: Someone shows them some goofy, poorly made barely functioning flash game and talks about it like it is the next great era in gaming that they are planning to give out for free. Some HR people look at it, throw up in their mouths a little bit, and then politely decline the request. Programmer then rages across internet like someone stole their bottle and urinated in it in front of them.

If you want to make something good, and truly believe it is something a lot of people will enjoy, again get a demo up and working... something that does not look like it was made by a group of actual ponies on commodores and then write an actual request and submit it. Yeah they may say no... but if it is indeed non profit and looks good and is legitimately playable and fun... they may give permission if you go about it the right way. Hasbro wants to protect their copyrights, but I imagine they would be open to entertaining and endorsing a quality product if one went through the right channels. Unless of course some company has a license on all possible Hasbro pony games, which is a possibility.

.Of course usually it is just "Screw It! Hasbro are assholes anyway! They'll just say no, no matter what! I'll just do what I want because reasons and asking is hard and sneaking is easier!"

Yeah.. Hasbro loves that!

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3 minutes ago, GrimGrimoire said:

How do you know? Have you tried?

What usually happens is either..

A: Someone just makes the thing, and then after they get told to shut it down... THEN they try to work with Hasbro or make some sort of deal. A little late by then.. you have already went behind their backs and only want to play ball after getting a cease and desist. It does not put you on good terms with the company and just shows you have no respect for the law or their property claims. They have no reason to waste their time with someone like that.

B: Someone shows them some goofy, poorly made barely functioning flash game and talks about it like it is the next great era in gaming that they are planning to give out for free. Some HR people look at it, throw up in their mouths a little bit, and then politely decline the request. Programmer then rages across internet like someone stole their bottle and urinated in it in front of them.

If you want to make something good, and truly believe it is something a lot of people will enjoy, again get a demo up and working... something that does not look like it was made by a group of actual ponies on commodores and then write an actual request and submit it. Yeah they may say no... but if it is indeed non profit and looks good and is legitimately playable and fun... they may give permission if you go about it the right way. Hasbro wants to protect their copyrights, but I imagine they would be open to entertaining and endorsing a quality product if one went through the right channels. Unless of course some company has a license on all possible Hasbro pony games, which is a possibility.

.Of course usually it is just "Screw It! Hasbro are assholes anyway! They'll just say no, no matter what! I'll just do what I want because reasons and asking is hard and sneaking is easier!"

Yeah.. Hasbro loves that!

Well really I got it from news on YouTube videos and from the internet. Like literally everyone says that Hasbro will never legally allow any fan made MLP games to be published. :)

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Just now, Techno Universal said:

Well really I got it from news on YouTube videos and from the internet. Like literally everyone says that Hasbro will never legally allow any fan made MLP games to be published.

Thank god you went to reputable sources and did a thorough analysis of it all.

I guess when literally everyone says something on youtube you might as well call it a fact.

 

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What I'm doing with my game is making it a parody, at least for now.  At least, I keep saying it's a parody, and I have dialog in my game about how it's about the weather factory workers going on strike...I plan to flesh it out a little more as I go; at the moment, I'm still developing it.

My understanding is that parodies are protected by fair use laws.

Edited by HereComesTom
forgot to mention an important bit

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Hello @MaresFillies

Taking into account that this topic does not showcase a developing or concluded project of your own creation, instead consulting about a relevant issue on the general production of aforementioned projects, I believe this topic (while not technical-related) would be suitable for Button Mash's Code Library. Therefore, it shall be relocated there.

Have a lovely day now.

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didnt hasbro stop fighting is magic cause this, then again didnt the creator of the show step in to?

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