Ownership and Rights

Hi, sorry if this is an uninformed, obvious question, but I haven’t seen anything about this in the documentation so far for Inform. I was wondering if there are any restrictions for the text written within Inform software. I mean, does it belong (copyright, rights), to the author? Or can any of the collaborators that work on the software claim some ownership or rights if the software is used? For example, if a person were to write an interactive novel with Inform that was somehow converted to print, would that person who authored the novel have the rights to do that? Would any collaborators who helped in developing the software used also have the rights to do that?

You alone have full ownership and copyright to the resulting product.

In general the owner of a tool can’t claim ownership of anything created with said tool. If you write a novel with Word, Microsoft doesn’t own it. If you paint a picture, neither the brush or the paint manufacturer owns it.

However, the Inform license does have one restriction in this regard: anything compiled with Inform 7 needs to acknowledge that fact somewhere. By default the banner text when you start the game does this for you, so you don’t need to worry about it.

That’s actually not part of the license, just common courtesy.

The downloadable extensions also have an attribution requirement – this is explicit. (Unless waived with the “authorial modesty” option, I guess.)

Normally, if a bunch of people were to cooperate, they’d all retain copyright of the parts they authored. So if you write the prose and I write the code, then you have copyright of the prose and I have copyright of the code.

But if you’re planning on something unusual and important, you might want to get serious legal advice, not the thoughts of a bunch of people on an internet forum.

Sure you can express yourself with this public software for trivial nonsense, but if you want to do anything important with it, then you had better get your plans approved by the copyright politburo which involves paying through the nose for a lawyer. Poor people and students need not apply for doing important things. Welcome to the future!

Or you could, y’know ignore all nonsense crap advice tp behave like a sheep and ask permission, and instead do what any non-execrable hero of a dystopian novel would do,… damn the torpedoes and let ‘them’ try and stop you. If something unfair happens, there is always Techdirt and the EFF…

Thanks everyone. My concern comes from using Google docs and the privacy practices engaged there. I realize that their policy states this is for the purpose of serving consumers, but it still raises concerns for me. Now that I think more about it, though, I guess that in that case the text is also hosted on their servers, and maybe that is the reason more than the tool itself. What I plan to work on is just an interactive novel, not something hugely important. Just trying to be aware.

Of course, credit should be given to the coders. If one uses such a software successfully, I would think promoting it would be a priority in addition to a courtesy.

Again, thanks!

Google docs? That’s just an online piece of word processing software, right? You needn’t even mention that you’ve used that, and couldn’t possibly lose copyright by using it.

Interpreting my comment completely out of context (indeed, in an entirely new context of your own invention) and then calling it “crap” might not be the most constructive thing you’ve ever done on this forum.

This might be completely useless (and if so, please ignore), but the Inform 7 products are owned by the creator (assuming there isn’t a pre-existing copyright issue like a game made off of Star Wars or something) then it is their own. It’s like writing in C++ or Java or some other computer language.

Am I right or off?

Yes, that’s what Juhana was saying.

I see this concern a lot (ownership of content with regards Facebook/Google Drive/Gmail/whatever): The content you create is yours. You authorize those service providers to “use” your work by hosting it. Facebook/Drive needs to have some level of protection, which is what they are doing.

Maybe it would be hypothetically possible for Facebook/Drive to steal a story idea or script, but Google is a 40 billion dollar company. Do you think they’d risk losing every aspiring creative by stealing your prose? Do you think you’ll write anything that will justify them risking losing their audience over?

I don’t ever (and won’t ever!) worry about creative rights on platforms like Google/Facebook. Much more successful creatives with much better paid lawyers use these platforms on a regular basis. Google hasn’t stolen anything from Beyonce or Timberlake, so I doubt they’d do it to me!

Establishing copyright is simple. Just put Copyright © 2013 Joe Dokes in your source code and if you like in the opening of your game. It does not require lawyers or anything complicated.

It’s even simpler than that. You automatically own the copyright of everything you create, regardless of whether it has the copyright notice or not.

To add on to what Juhana said, for those in the U.S. will find this interesting if they want to look in to the basics of copyright.