Using designs from famous characters

  • Hi guys, I am not clear on this so I was hoping someone might be able to shed some light on this.

    My game is almost complete now, and I am planning to release it on GooglePlay with income only from advertisements. My game has a section where you can change the character skin or design. The default character design is an original. The 5 others, well I am taking it from famous characters and modifying them a bit. Characters like Darth Vader, Iron Man and even UltraMan. The characters are all in a ball shape so it only has the designs of their head. Is this ok to have this in my game?

    I notice that many games do the same, taking advantage of famous characters and people. I would like to know if there are any implications in doing this, or is there anyway around it?

  • I don't think major developers would mind if a small time developer used some of their characters.

    There would only be implications if you started selling your game. When you start making money, thats when they get angry.

    Otherwise, you should be fine. Also make sure to credit them for the character concept.

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  • It doesn't matter if you make any money, using copyrighted material can get you sued.

  • Thanks Nickorama. Ya, it mostly seems to be the case. Haha people only get angry when you get famous, cause they only know about you that way.

    @newt. Thanks, it definitely seems better to play it safe as it is still an infringement. Coincidentally, I just came back from a futsal session.....and found out one of our members is a lawyer, so I asked him about it and he said he will check and get back to me soon. What I asked him is, how much of a change do we need to edit before we are legally safe to use it. For example, 50% design changes or the color scheme must be entirely different, etc etc. Hopefully it might be something I can work with, or I will have to come up with 5 entirely original designs for my characters. Will post any update once I know.

  • Play safe. Even if there's 99% chance nobody will ever notice and you won't make any money, why risk?

  • roberto, yup I definitely plan to.

  • You answered your own question.

    Many paid games have "homage" characters/skins, designs that resemble existing character, named in a way that makes the reference recognizable while not being a direct rip-off.

    It's more of an Easter-egg type of thing than willful infringement, if done tastefully.

  • PurohanPirilu. Yes, that's very true. I guess the million dollar question is to what degree of similarity can we create the characters that as you say makes it instantly recognizable, yet avoiding a law suit. I just got feedback from my lawyer friend and he says that there is no clear line or definition in this. I guess it depends on the personal views of the judges.

  • Judges rarely get involved, however lawyers do, and they care little about how different it is, but much more that they can make money off of someone who can barely afford a lawyer to begin with.

  • newt. Ya I guess you are right on that. In the hands of lawyers, even a 10% similarity will be made into a big issue. Guess I will have to come out with new designs and play it safe.

  • Do you know what a thousand lawyers at the bottom of a lake is.....................................a good start !

  • Or,

    1,000 lawyers buried up to their neck in sand? ....Not enough sand

  • granpa and illimunati, Hahaha absolutely brilliant!

  • Nickorama, newt, roberto, PurohanPirilu, Grandpa, illimunati and everyone else kind enough to view this.

    Since I most probably won't be using the designs anymore, I thought I might just post them here and see what you guys think. Sorry it's been a few days.

    This is the original design

    And here are the others....hmmm.....see if you can guess each of them correctly, although that might not be too hard

    Haha do you guys think I could possibly get away with using any? I think I could use the racing helmet...but not sure about the rest though....

  • The hockey mask might be okay, but Vader, and Iron Man are pretty iffy.

    Not too sure about the Halo, and others.

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