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Heroes Community > Heroes 3.5 - WoG and Beyond > Thread: Copyright problem for game development
Thread: Copyright problem for game development This thread is 3 pages long: 1 2 3 · NEXT»
piggychu620
piggychu620


Adventuring Hero
posted November 30, 2020 04:15 PM

Copyright problem for game development

I'm thinking about making a game almost-completely base on WoG.

Not that ERA, VCMI or any other mods have any problem, it just that in order to "mod a game to my liking", I have to "learn a new language and many other things"! And I was always limited to "what the developer had released"! I can't "never" trully "mod the game any way I want"!

So then I was thinking, "since I got the skill, why not just make one of my own completely"!?

But then the copyright problem comes into play, currently WoG seems like owned by nobody since the original company go bankrupted and release the content, but I don't know if the ERA team and VCMI team have any copyright over it.

And after the mobile game "HOMM: Era of Chaos" and many other games are released, Ubisoft seems had their hand in it too!

So I don't really know what to do!

Could somebody PLEASE be so kind and help me out?

Much appreciated!

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avatar
avatar


Promising
Supreme Hero
posted November 30, 2020 04:58 PM
Edited by avatar at 17:00, 30 Nov 2020.

WoG/ERA/HotA/VCMI are walking at the edge of non-clear copyright laws. When you install Hreoes3, you must agree disclaimers that say that game can't be modded. So, every mod is illegal.

But. All those mods require original game to play. So, every good mod make original game popular and Ubi still have some $$$ from selling H3 complete digital copies. That's why Ubi lawyers don't do anything to modders, because mods are free and modders don't earn money from copyrighted materials.

Situation can change drastically when you make money from your mod or distribute with your mod original files.

p.s. WoG was always a mod, like ERA or HotA - they are fan made addons.
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fanofheroes
fanofheroes


Famous Hero
posted November 30, 2020 05:08 PM
Edited by fanofheroes at 17:10, 30 Nov 2020.

What Avatar said ^^^^^ he beat me to the reply lol

I'm not a legal expert on Video Gaming copyright laws, but if it puts your heart at ease, 3DO sold the rights to Ubisoft, so technically they have the rights to sue anyone.  But since the work here is free and no one here seeks to profit, combined with Ubisoft's absent development of HOMM3 (meaning there's no competition in that product), I don't think you'd have an issue with developing your own version of WOG.  

From what I've seen, if you give credit where credit is due, then it's a sign of respect to the original designers of WOG and it's a way of paying homage I suppose?  

Being a free platform, sharing ideas and new versions sparks perpetual innovation of H3, so it benefits all.  Plus someone may take your version of WOG that you design and tweak it in their own way to make their own version of WOG too.  But you'd have to be ok with that

But that's just my opinion.  Every individual may have their own views and ideologies.

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gnollking
gnollking


Supreme Hero
Supreme Hero
posted November 30, 2020 08:03 PM

avatar said:
When you install Hreoes3, you must agree disclaimers that say that game can't be modded. So, every mod is illegal.

That's just straight up not true and would not apply in the EU anyways.

Game mechanics cannot be copyrighted, so as long as you have original or public domain or licenced assets, you can be pretty safe as long as it's not a directly demonstratable 1:1 copy of another game. (Even those can often pass if the mechanics are super simple.) I am not a lawyer but I have a degree as a game programmer with snowloads of experience with stuff like this, so take what I say with a grain of salt or something.
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Galaad
Galaad

Hero of Order
Li mort as morz, li vif as vis
posted November 30, 2020 09:49 PM

So many games have mods I think as long as a mod is free there is no problem.
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Undeadgamer62
Undeadgamer62


Known Hero
posted November 30, 2020 10:10 PM

The copyright holder (Ubisoft now?) could theoretically decide at any time to ban modding. It's not a question of just having the same mechanics. Mods by definition are modifications of an existing product. In other words, they are derivative, and derivatives of a copyrighted work are infringements unless authorized. However, as others have pointed out, Ubisoft has no interest in stopping modders as long as the original game is always needed to run the mod, and as long as the mods are available for free. Mods enhance the replay value of the game being modded. I'd bet that a large percentage of the HOMM 3 sales are motivated by the modding community, at least to some extent.

The situation is fundamentally similar to the fan fiction that gathers around every major book and movie franchise. It's also derivative, but copyright holders tolerate and even sometimes encourage fan fiction because it takes no money away from them and, by making the fandom stronger, may even increase their profits.  

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gnollking
gnollking


Supreme Hero
Supreme Hero
posted December 01, 2020 09:34 AM

Undeadgamer62 said:
The copyright holder (Ubisoft now?) could theoretically decide at any time to ban modding.

Sure, they could also say that you can only play their games between 3-6 AM, and both of those would be equally enforceable

Undeadgamer62 said:
Mods by definition are modifications of an existing product. In other words, they are derivative, and derivatives of a copyrighted work are infringements unless authorized.

This would only apply to mods if they shared the original game or its assets along with the mod.

Undeadgamer62 said:
However, as others have pointed out, Ubisoft has no interest in stopping modders as long as the original game is always needed to run the mod, and as long as the mods are available for free.

Exactly. With those two qualifiers ubi doesn't even have a case to try to stop modders.
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gatecrasher
gatecrasher


Famous Hero
posted December 01, 2020 11:26 AM

avatar said:
WoG/ERA/HotA/VCMI are walking at the edge of non-clear copyright laws.


No, VCMI is a reimplementation of the original game engine published under the terms of the Free Software/Open Source GPL licence.
They do not and they could not (because it is not available, apart from the proprietary licence) use original game code. They do not ship original game assests.
You need a HoMM3 copy in order to be able to actually play VCMI.

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PiggyChu620
PiggyChu620


Adventuring Hero
posted December 01, 2020 11:38 AM

Thanks for everyone's help!

So in a nutshell, either I made the game completely for free or ask Ubisuck, I mean, Ubisoft for permission, is that right?

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Strigo
Strigo


Hired Hero
posted December 01, 2020 11:50 AM

could you be more precise on what you're trying to do?

a. mod the game -> go ahead
b. create a (comercial) whole new game from scratch drawing inspiration from heroes 3 -> grey area, concerning gameplay, ubi cannot do snow legally (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_clone#United_States), as well as there are 10'000 clones already, but copying story elements and characters can be a solid legal basis
c. create a new commercial game using heroes 3 assets/code -> that's a no-no, welcome lawsuit

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PiggyChu620
PiggyChu620


Adventuring Hero
posted December 01, 2020 12:25 PM
Edited by PiggyChu620 at 12:43, 01 Dec 2020.

Strigo said:
could you be more precise on what you're trying to do?

a. mod the game -> go ahead
b. create a (comercial) whole new game from scratch drawing inspiration from heroes 3 -> grey area, concerning gameplay, ubi cannot do snow legally (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_clone#United_States), as well as there are 10'000 clones already, but copying story elements and characters can be a solid legal basis
c. create a new commercial game using heroes 3 assets/code -> that's a no-no, welcome lawsuit


That would be B.

There probably won't be any "stories" because I'm not good at "story telling"!

And I can always randomly generate some "heroes".

So I guess it would just be some Random Map Generator and whole bunch of heroes and monsters running around.

The problem is I love the WoG's gameplay (such as stats, abilities  ,skills or building structures, etc. There is a reason why I chose WoG over all those different releases of HOMM), and most importantly, there are already a whole set of "database" at hand, so I don't have to come up with my own. (Any game developer could tell you that that would be a SUPER pain in the ass! )

So I inevitably step into what everybody called "grey area"!

If I release my work for free, I guess, judging from everybody's reply, there is no problem at all!

The problem is I "AM" "thinking about" profiting from it, even just a little!

You can't blame me for wanting to make a living, can you?

After all, life is so hard!

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piggychu620
piggychu620


Adventuring Hero
posted December 01, 2020 01:12 PM

How about this?

I release the game as free content, and make money from patrons or ads, is that OK? Or I still have to get permission from Ubisoft no matter what!? >3<

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Strigo
Strigo


Hired Hero
posted December 01, 2020 01:13 PM

it's full out there of commercial heroes 3 clones, just go wild

the issue is not copyright, is that can you provide something better than the rest?

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avatar
avatar


Promising
Supreme Hero
posted December 01, 2020 01:44 PM

piggychu620 said:
How about this?

I release the game as free content, and make money from patrons or ads, is that OK? Or I still have to get permission from Ubisoft no matter what!? >3<


Hm.. I think you didn't understand anything what we wrote earlier. You said than game mechanics is not copyrighted, and we agreed, so why you're talking now about Ubisoft permission?

Look, what devs of this game are doing.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gameops/country-balls-heroes

They'are making their own assets, so they can sell the game and earn money, because - mechanics is not copyrighted.

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piggychu620
piggychu620


Adventuring Hero
posted December 01, 2020 01:47 PM

Strigo said:
it's full out there of commercial heroes 3 clones, just go wild

the issue is not copyright, is that can you provide something better than the rest?


OK! I got it! Thanks trillions!

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gatecrasher
gatecrasher


Famous Hero
posted December 01, 2020 01:57 PM

You could recreate the original H3 game assests (sound+graphics), in a similar or different style. Together with the VCMI engine you'd get a totally independent game.

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piggychu620
piggychu620


Adventuring Hero
posted December 01, 2020 02:20 PM
Edited by piggychu620 at 14:23, 01 Dec 2020.

avatar said:
piggychu620 said:
How about this?

I release the game as free content, and make money from patrons or ads, is that OK? Or I still have to get permission from Ubisoft no matter what!? >3<


Hm.. I think you didn't understand anything what we wrote earlier. You said than game mechanics is not copyrighted, and we agreed, so why you're talking now about Ubisoft permission?

Look, what devs of this game are doing.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gameops/country-balls-heroes

They'are making their own assets, so they can sell the game and earn money, because - mechanics is not copyrighted.



Sorry, I might have misunderstood what everybody was saying earlier.

Because I was worried, you know.

I certainly don't want to step on some big tycoon's toes and end up selling my ass for living in prison for the rest of my life! ~>3<~

But it's all good now! Thanks for everybody's help!

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Undeadgamer62
Undeadgamer62


Known Hero
posted December 01, 2020 07:18 PM

gnollking said:
Undeadgamer62 said:
The copyright holder (Ubisoft now?) could theoretically decide at any time to ban modding.

Sure, they could also say that you can only play their games between 3-6 AM, and both of those would be equally enforceable

Undeadgamer62 said:
Mods by definition are modifications of an existing product. In other words, they are derivative, and derivatives of a copyrighted work are infringements unless authorized.

This would only apply to mods if they shared the original game or its assets along with the mod.

Undeadgamer62 said:
However, as others have pointed out, Ubisoft has no interest in stopping modders as long as the original game is always needed to run the mod, and as long as the mods are available for free.

Exactly. With those two qualifiers ubi doesn't even have a case to try to stop modders.

While I agree that Ubisoft isn't going to try to stop the modding community in its current form, I think it's unwise to pretend the underlying issues don't exist or to make fun of them. The 3-6 AM example is obviously unrealistic and could only happen anyway if the original license was set up that way. But legally, there's a huge difference between end users who are just playing the game and mod developers. Mod developers are probably safe, as you say, because the mods require the original game and are free. As I said, they actually increase the value of the original game. However, the fact that something is being given away by itself doesn't mean it doesn't infringe copyright, and if Ubisoft for some reason decided it wanted to put an end to the modding of HoMM3, that decision would be enforceable. Consider the case of Axanar, the Star Trek fan feature-length prequel funded by a million dollar Kickstarter and designed to be of professional quality, though the plan was to distribute it for free. In 2015, the group producing Axanar was sued by CBS and Paramount for infringement. In 2017, the suit was settled. Axanar Productions had to concede that the planned film(s) "were not approved by Paramount or CBS, and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law. Note that the planned work was derivative but did not include original assets like footage or musical score. Merely setting the project in the Star Trek universe, though in a time period not covered by the existing Star Trek movies, was found to be infringement when the court rejected Axanar Productions' fair use claim. From that point on, fan films had to adhere to Paramount's fan film guidelines, which limited such films to 15 minutes in length, denied the ability to use Star Trek in the title, and capped fundraising at $50,000. The situation seems fairly similar to that of the modders, except that Ubisoft isn't currently trying to produce extensions of HoMM itself, whereas Paramount and CBS are continuing to create Star Trek content. But if Ubisoft changed its mind and started to produce its own content, I could easily see it cracking down on modding, though fortunately, I don't think Ubisoft will start producing original HoMM material. If it chose to, however, it could do exactly what Paramount and CBS did with Axanar. (By the way, when Warner Brothers started making the Harry Potter films, it tired to crack down on fan fiction. It stopped not because it didn't have the legal rights but because Rowling and others convinced it that such a move would be counterproductive.)

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gnollking
gnollking


Supreme Hero
Supreme Hero
posted December 01, 2020 08:14 PM

Undeadgamer62 said:
Consider the case of Axanar, the Star Trek fan feature-length prequel funded by a million dollar Kickstarter and designed to be of professional quality, though the plan was to distribute it for free. In 2015, the group producing Axanar was sued by CBS and Paramount for infringement. In 2017, the suit was settled. Axanar Productions had to concede that the planned film(s) "were not approved by Paramount or CBS, and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law. Note that the planned work was derivative but did not include original assets like footage or musical score. Merely setting the project in the Star Trek universe, though in a time period not covered by the existing Star Trek movies, was found to be infringement when the court rejected Axanar Productions' fair use claim. From that point on, fan films had to adhere to Paramount's fan film guidelines, which limited such films to 15 minutes in length, denied the ability to use Star Trek in the title, and capped fundraising at $50,000. The situation seems fairly similar to that of the modders, except that Ubisoft isn't currently trying to produce extensions of HoMM itself, whereas Paramount and CBS are continuing to create Star Trek content. But if Ubisoft changed its mind and started to produce its own content, I could easily see it cracking down on modding, though fortunately, I don't think Ubisoft will start producing original HoMM material. If it chose to, however, it could do exactly what Paramount and CBS did with Axanar.

This sounds more like an intellectual property infringement than what we're talking about here. If someone here was making a game called "Heroes of Might and Magic something something" there would absolutely be problems with Ubisoft, I agree. Right now I don't think there's any mod that goes this far, although I'm not sure what the plan is for OP's idea. This discussion actually made me check the HotA installer and websites to see how it's marketed, and it's only talked about as being an "extension" to the game, not as its "own thing", which I'm pretty sure has been a topic for the devs to carefully think about.

I know the 3-6 AM example was silly (), but the point still stands that there are things that publishers/companies can write into their end user license agreements as much as they want, but absolutely cannot be enforced. Talking from the EU, if you have a piece of software on your computer, nobody can (yet...) stop you from modifying or adding to that software for your own use as much as you want (of course if it's like an online multiplayer game you can be banned from connecting to their servers). The problem only comes when you start to distribute the modified software to others. Mod installers (most often) contain only the added parts, that the original game developers have no rights over, so can be distributed freely.

Now, if you start to SELL your mods, then I think the IP owners have a case for you benefiting from their property and you can get in trouble. (I'm still not a lawyer, and would recommend OP to talk to an actual one specialized in this stuff if they are serious about creating this game.)
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PiggyChu620
PiggyChu620


Adventuring Hero
posted December 02, 2020 03:42 AM

gnollking said:

although I'm not sure what the plan is for OP's idea.


OK... this is what I have in my mind:

Make a game 99% based on WoG, including Hero stats, skills, and special abilities, units stats and special abilities, town structures and progressions, buildings, combats, resources, etc.

1% difference being graphics, animations, etc. And probably the way heroes and units in world map and battlefield moves (continuous instead of grids), depend on if I could figure out how to do it.

Don't get me wrong, the movement itself is not that hard, the hard part is to show "available moves" in the battlefield! With it being "continuous", how they get around "obstacles" or "other units" become a formidable challenge! >"<


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