You know, I actually downloaded a video game creator, decided I had no idea what I was doing, and went back to drawing comics instead. I know where my future is. For others, however, that future is in video games, including some of my Reviewers Unknown pals like TestZero and The Gaming Pixie. Now in comics you’re kind of encouraged to copy others works FOR PRACTICE! Trying to trace over someone else’s work and claim it as your own will get you in trouble. Unless you’re Greg Land. If I were to produce a fan comic of, for example, Superman. it’s kind of a grey area. DC could tell me to take it down if they thought it was a violation, even if I didn’t charge for it and made no money for it. (In fact, considering I went with a free host and not getting my own URL you could say I’d still lose money on the drawing supplies.)
Then you have fan films. Axanar got CBS and Paramount so concerned due to how they crowdfunded the project and got major actors involved like Richard Hatch that they’re currently suing to have the production stopped as a Star Trek project and set some rather harsh ground rules for making a Star Trek fan film, which I’ve already discussed. Other productions not based on public domain works are going to be concerned now. It’s possible that other fan works are going to be scrutinized carefully even if they are allowed.
But what about video games? Pac-Man has been cloned to death, as was Flappy Bird, a mobile game where you try to get a bird through a series of pillars by pressing the screen at just the right time. There’s even a clone of it that came with the version of Android I have on my tablet. (It’s a pain to bring up since it’s an easter egg and I haven’t tried it on my smart phone. Yes I have a smart phone now. Check The Clutter Reports Sunday.) At what point does the line between “new game genre” and “copywrite infringing ripoff” get crossed? Mathew “MatPat” Patrick of Game Theory takes a closer look.
What do I think? If the characters, sprites, and backgrounds are being used then it’s a ripoff. If the code is being used and it isn’t a publicly released game engine then it’s infringement. If the creator doesn’t mind then why should we? This can be adapted to other media as well, but it’s when money comes into play that things should get legal. That’s Paramount’s issue with Axanar and it’s something fan creators should note. It’s okay to love something enough that you want to do your own version, but just be careful not to cross that line. The creators worked hard to invent an intellectual property and deserves the spoils. You can always create something new unless it’s a practice exercise, like my Reconstruction Zone article recently.
Fanart and fanfic is a bit tougher to go over. The lines are all kinds of colors and all over the place. Oh, and check out more game theories from MatPat and the other Game Theorists on their YouTube page.