Question on copyright.

There’s a lot of things i don’t know.

First, I don’t know if this is the right place where to post such a question.

Second: let’s pretend I’d like to make a fan-game based on a very famous character. I’m not sure I want to enter a Comp of sorts, but I’m wishing to release it to the public. What’re the problems I may get myself into?

Let’s say this: I’m making Questprobe 4: the Incredible Iron Man. What are the chances I get sued by Scott Adams and Marvel itself?

It would ridiculously look like fan fiction and the game would be so much out of this era… Still… I know big corps tend to be a lil bit nervous on such things.

Anyone has any experience on the matter?

(I am not a lawyer.)

Fan-fiction IF is not exactly a new idea. There have been Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dr Who games lying around on the Archive since forever. And, more recently, Muggle Studies. (

Copyright is not a concern unless you copy sections of text from the original work.

Trademarks are, in theory, more of a problem. Iron Man is a trademarked character. However, the big media companies have generally been willing to ignore fan works if they’re low-profile and non-commercial. (Again, Muggle Studies caused no trouble.)

Warning: I’m not a lawyer.

Suing is expensive. Unless they want to make an example of you (they might, who knows) they’ll send you a cease and desist first. Building a creative work on another company or person’s IP is illegal outside of very specific circumstances, and even in those circumstances (i.e. fair use) you have a legal defense, not a promise to not get sued (a license is literally a promise by a rights-holder to not sue you as long as you follow it’s terms and conditions), so even in circumstances of fair use, they can sue you if they want to and feel that they have a chance of winning.

On top of this, certain types of IP, particularly trade marks, essentially require the rights-holder to use and protect it in certain countries in order to maintain it, meaning they have to take you to court whether they want to or not, which is why you see somewhat silly litigation in the news, like Elder Scrolls vs Scrolls or Sky TV vs No Man’s Sky.

So: it’s not legal, and you could get sued. It’s way more likely that you’ll just get a cease and desist first though. Either way, building your work on another’s IP is like building it on sand, you might have to take it down.

I think it’s always a good idea to ask permission from the rights holder. They might just say no. They might not respond at all. They probably won’t say yes. But I think risking the “no” and having to give up before devoting a lot of time is better than devoting all that time and then having to taken it down. Also, it never hurts, if you do get sued, to have proof of a good-faith effort to get permission that you can point to.

It is pretty much illegal though. So is fan fiction, for the most part.

One more time, though, I’m not a lawyer. I’ve dealt with some IP issues before, but the laws are complicated, so don’t take my rather basic understanding of things as being necessarily accurate.

Thx both for the answer.

I understand that it is illegal. And I know about Muggle Studies (and the fact it contains not just some connection to the HP universe, but also Dumbledore himself). And I also know the difference between nice Mrs. Rowling and Marvel Entertainment ltd. That’s why I was asking if someone had experience in this kind of things.

I think I’ll take the advice and avoid making fun fiction.

It will be QueenProve 4: The Unbelievable Man of Metal. Probably :slight_smile:

My advice is to stay away from trademarks and brands, unless you have legal written permission.

It’s easy to think that a non-commercial project is OK and, although actually it probably is, you’ll never get your product hosted in an app store or somewhere like Steam if it even looks like it touches someone else’s IP, or in some cases even mentions it.

Nevertheless, there are some well known characters you can use that are out of copyright, such as Sherlock Holmes. That’s another option.

Sometimes you can find statements from IP holders regarding fan fiction that uses that IP. When explicitly allowed, you usually need to follow certain requirements.

An example is CBS and Paramount Pictures, who allow Star Trek fan fiction, including fan fiction movies even:

However, this is the exception, not the rule.

You all proved useful. I honestly hoped there were shortcuts for this kind of things. But wasn’t hoping very much :slight_smile:

Thx for the precious advice.