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Mobile Game Peppa Pig

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:44 pm
by milosV
Hi all,

need help in better understanding the issue I got.

As freelancer I've developed and published a game on Google Play with main character and font very similar to Peppa Pig. Game was named differently, and there were no direct association with original character graphics. Thing is that I've used 3d model created by me and thought it won't be a problem since their registered character is 2D drawing.
Also, I made clear in disclaimer that this is not official game and there are no connections to original character. Game was free, without inapp purchases or something like that.

Last week I got Cease and Desist letter from their solicitor asking me to remove the game from Google Play. Since I thought that better idea was to remove any associations to their character by changing it, I did so, so, now character look completely different and it shouldn't associate to their cartoon or character at all.
I can send link so you can check (not sure if I'm allowed to do it here).

Anyway, after informing them on my action, I got no reply on several emails. To be sure that I've did all I could. I even removed original app and published new one (with updated graphics).

Now, my question is: was that all necessary from my side, did I have to remove original app (game was accepted pretty well), and should I expect some additional actions from their side? They are not replying for 4 days (enough said about professionalism).

On the other hand, I would like to hear from someone more experienced opinion on why this was an issue since I was using similar, but not the same graphics for initial version of the game.

Thank you all for reading and hope someone could help on this.

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:51 pm
by AndyJ
Hi milosV,
As far as your original character is concerned, I am not sure why you think a 3D version of the Peppa Pig character might have been acceptable. You mentioned a 'registered character' which I assume is a reference to a registered trade mark. However that completely overlooks the copyright protection the Peppa Pig characters enjoy as artistic works. In the case of copyright, it is still infringement if the original is a 2D work and the copy a 3D work (or vice versa).
Section 17 (3) CDPA 1988:
(3) In relation to an artistic work copying includes the making of a copy in three dimensions of a two-dimensional work and the making of a copy in two dimensions of a three-dimensional work.
Moving on to your amended version of the character, it is hard to say if the changes are sufficient to satisfy Astley Baker Davies (ABD), the company which owns the rights to Peppa Pig. My feeling is that if any aspect of your new game bears a resemblance to the Peppa Pig characters or story line, they will continue to seek to protect their intellectual property, either with more cease and desist letters, or possibly full blown litigation. In that sense, there is no point in you posting a image of your new character here, because the visitors to this forum have no influence over the legal firm hired by ABD and the advice they will provide to their clients.
Possibly a better strategy might be to discuss a licensing deal with ABD which would allow you to develop your game under the Peppa Pig brand. I believe that their licensing is handled by eOne

Postscript: Fans of both Peppa Pig and intellectual property matters may have missed this story in the Daily Mail

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:03 pm
by milosV
Ok, to be clear: I didn't meant to infringe copyright, thought that 3D model is different enough graphics. So, I wasn't trying to "trick" anyone, thought of it as an improvement, since for lot of people 3D is better then 2D.

Keep in mind that original character mentioned consists of very basic geometric shapes. That being said, almost 80% of game characters have legs or hands same like Peppa - straight lines (straight cylinder in 3d).
Also, there are hundreds of games with similar names (Peppu, Peppy etc) that are not problem for them, obviously.

Anyway, I've removed all elements that could associate with original character that could be removed, and wanted written approval by them so I can continue working on it.
The problem is that no one responds for a long time, so I don't get them, and have slight concerns that with this level of communication I can't know if I'm supposed to do anything else, especially if they plan further steps.

Thanks for mentioning ABD, will try to find some contact (since there is no email on their website) and see if they will respond.

And also, thanks for responding to my question.

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:07 pm
by milosV
If anyone want to check how new game character looks like and give it a thought of weather or not this is problematic, search -- at Google Play

edit: Removed name because it's no more available.

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:03 am
by CliveB
I'm not really sure why you expect to get a response within four days. You've probably had the game online for a lot longer than that, so expect the rights holders to take some time considering what they will do before they get back to you.

With regard to what AndyJ has written about 2d-3D transformation. I believe he has got into a little bit of a muddle. What I think the provisions mean, relative to this issue, are that if you make an actual 3D model/character suit (ie something that someone can wear and appear as the 2D character, or something that you can hold in your hand) based on a 2D drawing, then you are potentially infringing.

This is in contrast to what milosV has done, which is to create a 3D representation of a 2D drawing, the result of which will only ever be seen as a 2D animation. That is, the computer file stores information about what the character may look like from different angles, but it is not an actual 3D object, and its output will only ever be to a flat screen.

So, the infringement is 2D-2D, not 2D-3D - IMO.

In this case I think your best option is to radically change the character, ie from a pig to a dog (but don't base it on the Peppa Pig character "Danny Dog") and rename/relaunch the game.

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:09 am
by milosV

thanks for your reply.
In general, their first reply on my comments came in 2 hours after sending. That's why I thought that simple question "Is this acceptable for your side" with image and link would be enough for instant decision if I can continue working on. The game is pretty simple, you don't need some special time to check if that's infringement or not.

Anyway, I've unpublished the app and will rework it from scratch. Too bad that I had to do that since that game was very well accepted by kids, but what the heck, I'll work on something else.

Just wondering if all other games that are way more similar to their original character will get removed also.

Thank you all for clearing some things out.

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:35 pm
by CliveB
milosV wrote:Anyway, I've unpublished the app and will rework it from scratch. Too bad that I had to do that since that game was very well accepted by kids…
I think what you need to ask yourself is why it was popular with that audience? Is it because they were confused over the origin of the work and thought it was related to Peppa Pig.
Just wondering if all other games that are way more similar to their original character will get removed also.
One of the harsh realities of this situation is that the rights holder may take action against one person, and not another, with no apparent logic backing up that decision. What you need to worry about is not whether others will also be targeted, but that you have been. Just take stock of the situation and walk away from the conflict - it is not worth putting up a fight about.

There may be academic points to be debated about the merits of your case, one way or the other, but I think the best course for you is to avoid discovering whether those arguments have any weight - ie do as you have been asked and find another way to practise your art.

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:54 pm
by milosV
Exactly what I did - unpublished it.

Still, I think you missed the point of my question. It's not whether or not I was supposed to copy their character, but how one can decide what is plagiarism when it comes to such a simple shapes like here (for revised character).

My concern was related to that part and the only solution I got is removal of the game. It's ok, not such a big deal, but still, maybe with better communication with them they could check it and let me know if updated version is acceptable as I was hoping.

Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:51 am
by CliveB
I think the point is this: if you are intending to copy something, then it's probably infringing.

You say its just simple shapes, and perhaps it just happens to look like Peppa Pig (and if it's just chance and you've never seen Peppa Pig then you might have a defence), but I say there are literally billions of other ways to put together simple shapes that don't look anything like the Peppa Pig character.

Quite often we hear the "Mickey Mouse" complaint, that Disney has a monopoly over the drawing of a mouse. But the fact is, if you look around, you'll find dozens, if not hundreds of other cartoon representations of mice that look nothing like Mickey Mouse.

Likewise, if you really want to have a pig character, there are many other ways to do this. At a basic level, it doesn't have to be pink!

I don't know what the boundary is between influence and copying, but if you are "influenced" by protected elements of a work (ie the bits covered by copyright) then you are probably copying (and this would be infringing).

The reason you can make a game resembling a simplified version of "Temple Run" is because the nature of games is that they cannot be protected by copyright (although the artistic elements of those games can). For example Scrabble and Monopoly are mainly protected by trade mark law, rather than copyright, and if you search you will find games with similar gameplay elements that do not infringe either of the originals.

So, I think if you don't hear anything from the law firm, that is probably a good thing. They are unlikely to tell you that what you have done to change the game now does not infringe their client's rights - because they may decide at a later date, or someone else will, that it does.

You should probably tell them that you have complied with their request (if that is what you have done) and inform them that you expect to hear from them within 28 days if they believe that you have not complied or they intend to take any further action. If you don't hear from them, as previously, that is probably a good thing.