Non-commercial modifications of Football Games?

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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futplay
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Non-commercial modifications of Football Games?

Post by futplay » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:03 am

Hello,

I want to make software manipulates the machine code of the FIFA and FM series to enhance the gameplay of those games. The software would be free and I'd only take donations. One similar program is FMRTE, a run-time editor which allows modifications of FM's memory. As far as I know FMRTE has no troubles even though it is commercial software.

So would my software be illegal?

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:52 am

Hi Futplay,
I'm not sure if I can provide a really complete answer.
Programs written in highlevel languages are subject to copyright and are treated as literary works. Under UK law they are not patentable as programs per se, although the end product, eg the process achieved by a program can sometimes be subject to patent protection, although I suspect that does not apply here. And if a program creates as part of its output a quantity of data which could be described as a database, then that database itself can be protected separately as "a collection of independent works, data or other materials which are arranged in a systematic or methodical way, and are individually accessible by electronic or other means." (section 3a of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988).
Therefore anything which copied the source code or database of a program would potentially infringe copyright. But you say you want to create something which operates on the machine code and modifies it. From this I assume that the user would need to have their own copy of the game in order to run your app (for want of a better description). On that basis I think it might be acceptable because you would not need to copy the original code. However if you wanted to create a free-standing game which used the FM code together with your own code, then that would almost certainly not be legal unless you obtained a licence from the makers Sports Interactive. However I notice from their website that you can download an editor from them and so I assume that they anticipate that users of the game will wish to modify aspects of the play, and that this is condoned. I have not had time to find the terms and conditions associated with the end user licence for the game to see what they have to say about you publishing your app, but I suspect that this would not be allowed, even if you are offering it for free. You should read this licence yourself to find out what limitations there are on distributing any derivative version you create, or failing that I suggest you contact the company to ask.
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

futplay
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Post by futplay » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:22 pm

My program will not copy anything from the company. It can be considered a 'third-party' tool which requires an original copy of the game so that when the program is launched it will manipulate the copy. Every modification will be on memory so it won't be permanent. I'd definitely consider contacting them. I really appreciate the suggestions.

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