Minecraft with forest school

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Sian
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Minecraft with forest school

Post by Sian » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:36 am

Hello,
I run Forest school for kids as a n after school club and full days on holidays. It is my mission to get kids off the screen and outdoors for the health and well-being of kids.
How can I use Minecraft as a theme for my forest school days? If I use the same terms i.e creepers or mobs or get the kids looking for gold nuggets then would I be liable as these are ideas taken from the game, and could I use the word minecraft in my advertisement?
Also what if I were to sell my lesson plan to aid parents to run their own events?

Thanks in advance,
Sian.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:54 pm

Hi sian,

I can't see any problems as far as copyright is concerned. Ideas cannot of themselves be protected, just the expression of the ideas, so using (relatively) common words such as creepers or gold nuggets (especially if you use lower case letters) cannot infringe the copyright in the computer game.

There may be more of a problem with the trademark aspect. The word 'minecraft' has been registered worldwide in a large number of classes of goods and services, including games and educational services (eg "organisation, production and presentation of events for educational, cultural or entertainment purposes; organisation, production and presentation of competitions, contests, games, game shows, quizzes, fun days, exhibitions, shows, roadshows, staged events, live performances and participation events; organization and provision of games and competitions") and so I think it would be wise to make it very clear that your activities are not authorised by or associated with the Mojang Synergies AB (now owned by Microsoft) product.

On that basis there should be no problem with selling your lesson plans/concept so long as, again, you avoid using the word minecraft, or if you do use it, make it entirely clear that your activity has nothing to do with the official game and only uses certain elements and names which will be familiar to players of the game. If you wanted to be 100% safe you ask about getting a license from the company's UK representatives on intellectual property matters: Sheridans, 76 Six Wardour Street, London W1F 0UR. However I think the likely cost of a licence would far outweigh any benefit, and you really don't need a licence if you tread carefully.
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

Sian
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Thanks so much

Post by Sian » Sat Oct 31, 2015 12:17 pm

Hello,
Thanks ever so much for that detailed response, it's very helpful. What you've said sounds very encouraging and it looks like I can move forward with this idea in some format. I think what I should do now is seek further advice on what specific aspects of Minecraft I'd like toys in my product.
I have a few questions to clarify the situation if you're able to offer further advice:

1. If I was to use the phrase "an outdoor adventures for Minecraft fans" or "The Real Minecraft Adventure" as a heading or sub heading to my product, do you think these would be without issue?
2. Would I be able to use any images from the game (as in screenshots of characters and Minecraft graphics for my game's props) or should i create my own images using similar 8-bit style graphics? we also have some pictures of the children who have been playing the outdoor game wearing official Minecraft masks - I wonder if we can use such images for promotion?
3. Lastly, I would ideally like to sell this online product worldwide through my own website, rather than just in the UK.

Looking forward to receiving any advice on this. Many thanks. Sian.

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Post by AndyJ » Sat Oct 31, 2015 2:51 pm

Hi Sian

I think that "an outdoor adventure for Minecraft fans" should be alright, as the use of the word Minecraft is unambiguously adjectival. However although it is also adjectival in the phrase "The Real Minecraft Adventure", the use of the word real creates too close an association with the trademarked Minecraft products. Similar words to avoid would be 'official', 'authorised', 'true' or 'genuine', as they all suggest a direct connection with the Minecraft brand which could lead a a claim of trade mark infringement or more likely, of passing-off.

Do not use images from the game. Earlier caselaw has established that screenshots of computer games are protected as graphic images, just like photographs. However if you take photographs of children engaged in your game, even if they are wearing/using authorised Minecraft merchandise, that shouldn't be a problem, because it would not infringe any trade marks, and I think it would be very hard to claim copyright infringement where the items are being used for their intended purpose. There is an implied licence in any article of clothing that it may be freely worn and if a photograph incidentally includes part of the outfit, that would be fair dealing. But to be extra safe, make sure that you acknowledge all Mojang Synergies' trade marks, as this reinforces the fact that you are not trying to represent your game as being authorised by them.

In theory I can't see any additional problems with marketing your idea worldwide; trade mark and copyright law are fundamentally the same in most other countries due to a number of international treaties surrounding intellectual property. It is possible that certain jurisdictions might apply the law more stringently than in, say, the UK or the EU generally, but I think that that is more likely to be a problem for your potential overseas licensees/clients rather than you as the originator of the idea. It would therefore be sensible to include a clause in your trading terms to the effect that it is the responsibility of the client to find out if there are any local legal implications of operating your games in their country and that you do not accept liability for any intellectual property infringement. Ideally you should get a lawyer to draft the terms to ensure they are comprehensive, but that may be an expense you wish to put off initially until you have a few sales by which to judge the popularity of the games.
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

Sian
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Thank you

Post by Sian » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:54 pm

Thank you for the excellent advice, it is very much appreciated.

Sian :-)

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