Anyone want to talk about copyright law as it applies specifically to interactive fiction?

There is no copyright law that applies specifically to interactive fiction. Unless you can imagine the congress introducing one, lol :mrgreen:

Do you mean stuff like the concept of airbending?

There are a couple of topics on here where people have kicked around that kind of copyright issue re: IF. In fact there could be more but I just remembered these ones.

This one mentions Dr Who (making a Dr Who IF game, and what the ramifications of that would be)


This topic is more specifically about the whole notion of basing a game on something pre-existing:


I remember the early games (specifically Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) having a big copyright battle.

The family of Lewis Carrol still owned the rights to the name and the contents of the book, and they didn’t consent to it being used as a game, nor did they get any residuals from it.

The maker of Hitchhiker’s Guide was lucky since that green circle sticking it’s tongue out was used all the time anyway, but the words DON’T PANIC!” in large friendly letters was debated on.
It turns out you can’t copyright real words so he was free to use it.
The type of lettering was also debated on, but doesn’t Microsoft have Goth in Wordpad anyway.
Even before Microsoft, Mary Shelly used it for Frankenstein.

I think I’m missing something. Hitchhiker’s Guide was made in collaboration with Douglas Adams himself… and still it had copyright issues? :confused:

When going commercial, the author almost never owns his own work. The publisher does. So Douglas Adams probably did not own Hitchhiker’s Guide.

IF Noob has got a touch of the ILoveHedgehogs about 'em.

That’s true, but what I was referring to was the other version.
The first version was called a text adventure, but in various spots there was animation, made for the Apple IIe and Macintosh.
The second version was mostly animation that was called a video game, made for the Macintosh and Mac Jr., and at the same time the IF came out (like a movie’s Director’s Cut).

Both the second (improved) version and the text IF were not consented by Adams.


You think so, too, huh?

I find this very hard to believe. Alice’s copyright has expired more than 100 years ago. If Carroll’s estate had quarrels with the game, it would’ve had to been on some other grounds than copyright issues.

No, that is rarely true. Reference books might be written for hire, and then the company retains the copyright. But for fiction, the author practically always keeps ownership. If you’re publishing a novel and the publisher asks to buy your copyrights, run away fast.

Douglas Adams retained the copyrights of the HHGG books until his death, and then passed them on to his heirs.

The HHGG game says “Copyright 1984 by Infocom” – but by 1996, Activision had stopped distributing it (it wasn’t in the Masterpieces collection) and then it appeared on the Douglas Adams web site. So it looks like there was some reversion clause in their agreement, where Adams (and later his estate) got all the rights after ten-ish years.

(And Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been public domain since 1907, so I don’t know what you’re talking about there either.)

You’re going to have to cite some references for that. We’ve never heard of anything like it, not until the BBC graphical update in I think 2008. (Also, there was no Mac model called the “Mac Jr.”)

No, I wasn’t specifically thinking of airbending.

Has anyone gotten permission to use non-public domain images (or other materials) in your work? How’d that go for you?

Surprisingly easy, actually. I’ve got permission for book excerpts, image manipulation, and raw images. I generally write a paragraph about the work, what I’m doing, why the resource would be helpful, and what the game will be used for. I ask for their permission under a couple different levels - as a prototyping tool (for my eyes only), as a pre-release resource, and as a full-release resource. I usually mention that it’s non-commercial and probably open-source, and tell them how I usually credit people. (Resource: Name and email, or link to website.)

I’ve had one person tell me that they didn’t want their work to be used if I ever decided to take any money, and maybe 25-35% of the people never respond. Everyone else usually gives full permission, although sometimes the crediting requests are too much for me. (“In order to use my squeaky door noise, you must put my name on the splash screen!”)

I tend to approach amateurs, albeit talented ones, which helps, but occasionally I’ve taken a chance on professionals, and had several positive responses.

Neat, I would have thought it would be problematic putting copyrighted material into a freeware game instead of another copyrighted work.

I thought excerpts were fair game, but I just looked it up and damn, they’re only fair game in reviews or scholarly works.

Alice Liddle (and family) actually had the copyright when he died, not his family (dead already).

Douglas Adams passed his books down to his sons who on their mother’s advice (rather than a lawyer’s) had to settle.

Well, just because it’s commercial doesn’t mean it’s not copyrighted. EA Games couldn’t just pick up my work, slap their name on it, and sell it without my permission. And even if I revoke copyright on my bits, that doesn’t carry over to anyone else’s work - if you really liked the brush I used to make grass, you’d still need permission from the artist to use it. (Theoretically.)

I’ve got 3 words for you:
The 1984/Olympics commercial was the opener for the Mac Jr., although it was supposed to be for Lisa.
Lisa still had “Bugs in the software.”

Oh cool. I had a big fight with some Wikipedia administrators about this. I’d like to give them a Barnstar… right between the eyes. I am glad to see there’s someone else who knew the real story, and you were right to post it here, IF Noob.

The mother had her two eldest sons fight it out at a refurbished Wienerschnitzel, since they knew no self-respecting lawyer would set foot in there. If I remember correctly, Joshua ended up with the rights to Dirk Gently and Zaphod, but DNA Jr got pretty much everybody else. Everyone was humilated by the time it was over, and we should all think less of them for engaging in such petty quarrels.

The character Wonko the Sane was strangely unaccounted for in the settlement, but some people say he types stupid nonsense into text game forums to this very day.

“Please don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

I was responding to another post here.
He was the one who got off the subject.

No it wasn’t.

Irrelevant. The copyright expired in 1907 (UK law, and I believe US law also). Anybody has been legally able to make a game based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland since then.

Settle what? You haven’t pointed at a report of a lawsuit.