Can this artist take legal action against me?

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trotski94
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Can this artist take legal action against me?

Post by trotski94 » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:35 am

Hello,

Recently I created a game based off of someone elses IP, a GIF posted to a image sharing site to be exact. It then blew up and I got approx 200k visitors playing the game. I am making no money off of it nor do i plan to continue anything to do with the project, yet the original creator is threatening legal action.
Can legal action be taken against me if i do not take the game down?

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:59 am

Hi trotski,
Does your game actually use the gif as part of the graphics of the game? If so then, yes that could well amount to infringement, which could lead to you being sued, although I suspect you will be invited to settle the matter without going to court.

However, if your game just picks up on the idea expressed in the gif, then that would be much more borderline, and would depend on the extent to which your game re-uses the central theme or concept of the other image.

Obviously it's hard to tell without seeing both, but the fact that you say that you based your game on the gif, would be an important advantage to the other person, because it implies a significant reliance on their work in the creation of yours. Being inspired by someone else's work is not necessarily the same as infringement, and indeed at times that kind of inspiration can be exactly what most people feel to be a public benefit from protecting works with copyright, because it encourages them to go on creating and thus inspire more people to be creative.

What have they said they want you to do? If it is just to take the game down, and this doesn't involve any financial loss to you, that might be a sensible option while you continue to discuss things with the other person. However if you feel strongly that your game does not infringe their image then you do not have to until they have set out their case in a way which convinces you. However if your game is hosted on a third party site, the other person may approach the hosting company and get the game taken down using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act provisions. While you could challenge this, it would require you to convince the hosting company of your side of the story, and many companies aren't willing to take a risk that they too might become involved in legal proceedings and so take the easy route of not re-instating the game.
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

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Post by trotski94 » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:53 pm

It does not use the exact GIF produced by the person, it does however use a very close representation - the character is actually drawn programmaticaly, that being each frame of the game is rendered it draws each line and curve one by one until the full image of the character is achieved and it is then displayed to the user. To create this i did however use the likeness of the GIF, and at a quick glance this is obvious even with the imperfections from the method i chose.

In other words, it does not use any of the graphics its claimed to be infringing, it does however produce near identical results just using entirely different methods.

I've been sent an email along the lines of a cease and desist letter, stating if the game is not taken down in 48 hours further legal measures will be taken. The hosting is maintained by myself so that would probably be a difficult process for them.

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Post by AndyJ » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:58 pm

Hi again trotsky,

It's difficult to be categorical about this one way or the other, but it does sound as if the other person may have grounds for claiming infringement.

I suspect the other person has not taken legal advice before acting, as the 48 hour deadline is unreasonable. However that doesn't mean that they are bluffing. You could get your own legal advice but that would not be cheap, and so unless there are other factors we are not aware of, taking down the game might save you a lot of hassle. If you can re-jig the game to produce a different image to the one which appears to be like the other person's, and the game is still viable, that would seem to be the best way forward.
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

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