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Author Topic: Legal ramifications of releasing a system based on a pre-existing setting  (Read 1105 times)

Alea Iacta Est

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So I've started making an rpg system based around the Tokyo Ghoul setting, and I'm confident in the rules to stand on their own legally since I'm not copy pasting rules from other systems, but I'm not so sure about what I can and can't do when posting the finished product.  What exactly should I know when posting the game?

soundchaser

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Tokyo Ghoul IP is nowhere invaded right?

Being indie, small, careful as you say, you could likely publish and all goes fine. A cease and desist would come if you had some blatant infringement, but being small I doubt anything would come of it.

Well, you have no space marines so GW won’t hit you with C&D too (sarcasm mode).

Alea Iacta Est

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I did include clear names of concepts directly from the setting, such as the kagune types, organizations, and other things, but not any characters as of now, which is why I'm tentative with where I can share the finished product, which will undoubtedly include more names from the setting.  Not sure if that makes it invaded, but definitely used.

Spinachcat

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Unless you own an IP, you can NOT use that IP.

Exceptions exist when you are given permission, such as the 3PP projects on DriveThruRPG where authors are allowed to make and sell adventures and supplements for certain IPs.

However...depending where you live...the laws MAY allow you to "file off the serial numbers" and effectively copy an IP.

Many indie RPGs do that, but you have to be smart and careful.

My suggestions?
1) Read up on copyright laws that will affect your situation.
2) Contact the IP holders and ask how much the rights to a RPG would cost and how you could work with them.
3) If #2 is too costly and #1 allows you to do a clone dance, then go for it.





S'mon

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In some copyright jurisdictions such as the USA, a setting/world may itself be a copyright protected work, so as said above you basically can't use it, at least not commercially. Ideas & themes from the work are not copyright protected.  You also cannot use trade marks (badges of origin) commercially. So a Tokyo Ghoul fan work will not (should not) violate the IP holder's trade mark, but a commercial/for profit work will.

The safe advice is: do not publish a work based on someone else's setting.

rytrasmi

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Are you posting it for free or selling it? Most copyright holders are not going to spend a lot of money pounding a fan-made freebie into dust. They'll just ask you to take it down. Selling it is a different story. In that case, you should change the names of things.
Hit me up if you're in the Toronto area and you wanna play Hyperborea 3E!

DeadVerySoon

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So I've started making an rpg system based around the Tokyo Ghoul setting, and I'm confident in the rules to stand on their own legally since I'm not copy pasting rules from other systems, but I'm not so sure about what I can and can't do when posting the finished product.  What exactly should I know when posting the game?

So, what answers are you getting on legal forums, what advice from your SCORE mentor, what feedback are you getting from the copyright owners themselves.  Of course, you didn't waste time creating anything before becoming certain you were not going to get permission./

Ruprecht

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I did include clear names of concepts directly from the setting, such as the kagune types, organizations, and other things.
I'd replace these things. You can make things similar-enough without using IP. Think Halflings instead of Hobbits.
Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing. ~Robert E. Howard

PFrota

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If it's small you'll probably have no problems. Green Ronin built a whole setting (which is pretty good actually) doing that with Marvel and DC IPs. They basically renamed and reskinned everything.

For example, their premier superhero league has a leader who flies, is super-strong, and lives in an isolated fortress. This character has a unique name and came to Earth as a baby, sent here from a doomed dimension (not a different planet, a different dimension) and gained his powers because of the difference in the laws of physics in our dimension and his original one. Here you can see how they ripped off Superman changing just enough to be different.

They did that with pretty much everything Marvel/DC - to the point you can just take the numbers and rename the characters back and play in the Marvel or DC universes if you wish.


rway218

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As a publisher I can say this, "If you were to ask if you can write in world with our settings, we would ask for a royalty (small) if you were selling."

Many other publishers I know feel the same way.  A letter of intent, or query to write can move mountains, and keep you out of copywrite court.  I have asked and been turned down very politely before, and at other times I was given the greenlight, as long as I made sure to reference the company/IP owner and give proper attribution.  Many company sites have these terms listed in the FAQ or designated webpage. 

It can get a bit dicey if you try and write for published fiction, computer games, and the like.

***Shameless plug*** We are generally easy going when it comes to rights and fan fiction/games/settings.

BoxCrayonTales

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It's copyright infringement, full stop. Don't do that.

That said, Cthulhutech made a lot of ripoffs of various animes including evangelion, guyver, and even pokemon. They changed the names and such but the inspiration is clear.