Copyright a mobile phone game???

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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richieloco
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Copyright a mobile phone game???

Post by richieloco » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:05 am

Hi, I recently had an idea for a mobile phone game. I've yet to write this game but I am already contacting freelancing illustrators and getting quotes for the price of creating image sprites. One guy in particular I am very interested in using. However, he's also produced a few mobile phone games himself and I'm worried about giving away too much information on what I need in case he attempts to copy my idea - as he obviously has the know-how to be able to do that himself. Would you recommend a copyright? :roll: If so, how should I go about obtaining one? :roll: Please bare in mind that I am an absolute newbie to any of this when. Thanks in advance! Rich :)

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:18 pm

Hi Richie,
Once you have put down your game idea on paper - or more likely in this case created the code for the game, you will own the copyright in it. There are various things that you can do to strengthen your case should it ever be necessary to prove your version of events in court, such as lodging a signed and dated copy of whatever physical medium you have recorded your game idea on (paper, CD, DVD etc) with your bank, a solicitor or one of the copyright registry services such as UK Copyright Service. (Note that this is commercial business and that there others which offer the same sort of service.)
But really you best bet is to make sure that anyone with whom you have to share your idea is bound by a non-disclosure agreement. You can get a specimen NDA here. Once someone signs an NDA with you they owe you a legal duty not to breach your confidence, and if they do, they could face penalties in court. By making them sign a NDA you are drawing this fact to their attention in a more focussed way that just relying on copyright alone.
I think you are very wise to take the greatest care to avoid your idea being pinched by someone else, given the competitive nature of the games industry. Obviously you strengthen your position by not revealing more than is strictly necessary to each potential collaborator. For instance the illustrator who creates your sprites does not need to know much about how the actual game will be played, and similarly anyone who writes music or sound effects doesn't need to know what the characters look like, and so on.
You also need to establish from an early stage who will own what rights to the various elements which you outsource. For instance unless it is agreed otherwise beforehand, the illustrator will own the copyright in any artwork he produces and could in theory sell this to another game developer unless you draw up a contract with him which assigns all copyright to you in exchange for whatever fee you agree. The same will apply to any original music you commission. You can obtain suitable agreements for this purpose from the Own-it site mentioned above.
You should find some additional information here: Business Link
Good luck with your project.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

richieloco
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Post by richieloco » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:46 pm

This is great - exactly what I needed to know! Thank you so much for your help! :D

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