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#1 oren1711  Icon User is offline

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legal question

Posted 11 October 2013 - 01:56 AM

hi!
im working on an android app that is very similar to the Simon game. the app has other features as well, but they too are similar to the Simon game.
can i do it or am i breaking copyrights laws?
thank you!
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#2 DblAAssassin  Icon User is offline

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Re: legal question

Posted 11 October 2013 - 05:43 AM

I would think, no as long as you don't use the name 'Simon'. But I can't be 100% sure. I mean I would think that anyone could make a game about 'Simon Says'! Anyways, goodluck, and post in Appropriate Forum next time... 'Mobile Development'
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#3 Ryano121  Icon User is offline

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Re: legal question

Posted 11 October 2013 - 06:01 AM

Are you trying to make money of this app?
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#4 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: legal question

Posted 11 October 2013 - 06:10 AM

I'm not a lawyer, but I am somewhat familiar with copyright laws in the US. Basically, you know if you're copying someone else and so do the courts.

For a computer program, if it looks and functions pretty much exactly the same, you're in questionable territory, but it's mostly verbatim copying of code that will get you in trouble.

Another part of copyright law is that it has to be unique and fairly complex for you to be able to copyright it. No one can copyright the word "the" and then charge everyone royalties for using the word every time they use the word. Even a sentence probably cannot be registered for a copyright. Poetry can be though. So, it doesn't necessarily have to be all that long or complicated.

But no one is going to be able to successfully copyright Tic-Tac-Toe or even 3D Tic-Tac-Toe. You could however copyright YOUR game of Tic-Tac-Toe. That would mean your code and your exact graphics and such. That would not prevent someone else from making a Tic-Tac-Toe game, but it would hinder them from just copying your program and selling copies of your program in their name. So really, you would be copyrighting the things that make your Tic-Tac-Toe game different from everyone else's, not the game itself.

Even a game like Monopoly could be "copied" as long as there's nothing that really screams Monopoly. Just having "chance" cards in your square board game would probably not be a problem. But at some point you have so many elements that everyone knows you're copying; the more similar it becomes the more clear the issue becomes. Really, you probably know when you're copying and that should probably be your guide.

But games that have been around so long that no one really knows who created them, are never going to be something that you or anyone else can copyright. On the other hand, your specific version of them can be.

Another example might be trying to copyright a song in the public domain. You can't copyright the song. However, you can copyright a recording of you singing the song. So it's your personal version that you can copyright. This would hinder someone from selling your recording, but it would not hinder them from recording themselves singing the song and selling that.
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#5 DarenR  Icon User is offline

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Re: legal question

Posted 11 October 2013 - 07:31 AM

Hmm I would not take law advice from a programming forum because as much as we would like to tell you how much we know about the law, the simple truth is that we are not lawyers and are not 100% sure of the law.
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#6 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: legal question

Posted 11 October 2013 - 08:10 AM

View PostBBeck, on 11 October 2013 - 09:10 AM, said:

I am somewhat familiar with copyright laws in the US. Basically, you know if you're copying someone else and so do the courts.

Then you also know that the difference between copyright & trademarks. Copyright protects purchases. Trademarks protect against 'likeness rights'.
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#7 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: legal question

Posted 11 October 2013 - 09:05 AM

Copyright protects the right to copy, or make copies and distribute them. I'm mostly familiar with it from music because before software their was music and literature. I'm not sure exactly how it applies to software. I've heard that software falls under patent rather than copyright. But the whole principle is to keep other people from stealing your ideas regardless.

You own the copyright whenever you create a work that falls under copyright law. You then register your pre-existing copyright with the Library of Congress. All that does is help you if there is a law suit over ownership. The courts automatically assume the person with the registered copyright is the owner. But the true owner is the creator unless they have given their rights away. So, you can still win the law suit if the other party stole your stuff and then got the copyright registered before you did. But it's an uphill battle you're not likely to win since its assumed that whoever registered the copyright is the owner.

Trademark is for protecting marks of trade or brands. If you start a company, the name should be trademarked or someone else can use it. You might trademark the name of your software or characters in your software like Sonic the Hedgehog. Then you would own the rights to sell Sonic the Hedgehog dolls and such.

But again, I'm no lawyer.
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#8 Rhino1111  Icon User is offline

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Re: legal question

Posted 11 October 2013 - 09:52 AM

Q: I have a fantastic idea for a book. I’m unclear on copyright rules and I want to protect my idea from someone else copying it. What steps should a person take in order to protect an idea until it comes into print? –Brian

A: I hate to break the bad news, but you can’t copyright an idea. Nobody can. Section 102(B) of the Copyright Act specifically states: “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated or embodied in such work.

“So if copyright law doesn’t protect an idea, what exactly does it protect?

Copyrights cover “original works of authorship” that the author fixes in a tangible form (written on paper, typed on computer, scribbled by crayon on a napkin, etc.). In other words, it protects the specifics of your book after it’s written. No one can steal, reprint or profit from your work without your consent. Though, no matter how hard you try, you can’t safeguard the idea behind your story.

Think about it like this: No one directly copied William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet word-for-word and slapped their name on it, but they have used his idea—a love story about two young people from rival families— over and over again. West Side Story fits the bill (two lovers from rival gangs). Even Disney’s High School Musical has the same plot (rival high school cliques).


Taken from: http://www.writersdi...pyright-an-idea


basically what this means, is that you can copy the exact concept of the game, as long as you are using your own graphics, game name, characters, maps, etc. You aren't in violation of any Copyright laws they may hold. A prime example of this is in MMO games, such as World of Tanks, War Thunder, World of Warplanes, etc. These games have near identical concepts, but their own custom implementations.

I even came across a letter from a Nintendo representative a while ago, they basically said you can clone the pokemon concept and create your own game, as long as you aren't using their pokemon characters, sprites, maps, storyline etc. They said doing that wouldn't be in violation of their copyrights.

Just keep in mind I'm drawing conclusions and opinions from what I've read, and how I interpreted said articles/information. I don't know too much about these kinds of things, but I think it's 100% safe to replicate the concept, just make sure you aren't using their game name/characters/maps/etc.
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#9 oren1711  Icon User is offline

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Re: legal question

Posted 13 October 2013 - 02:26 PM

thank you all for your replies!
you helped me alot.
i have another question about the same problem.
my game is like the "icon pop quiz" app. i have 4 sounds and they play a famous song, which the player needs to identify the song.
can i do it? or do i need permission from the song owner?
because its not the actual song, or recording of the song, just simple sounds that play the song, i dont know if it illegal or not.

btw, the app is free now, and im using my own sounds\images\code\name and everything.
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#10 BBeck  Icon User is offline

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Re: legal question

Posted 13 October 2013 - 08:15 PM

I think you're in a gray area there. It's not uncommon for musicians to sample the works of others. And I've heard radio broadcasts where they are quite clearly using someone's work for a 4 to 8 second spot, but I doubt they obtained permission. Or maybe they did and just didn't tell everyone they did.

When you know for a fact that you're copying a piece of someone else's work, you probably need to seek some legal council. You can probably get away with a 4 second exact duplicate of someone else's music. But again, I'm no lawyer, and you're on thin ice at that point. At the very least you should do some serious research on that and possibly contact an actual attorney if you're going to copy a part of someone else's work.
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