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I posted a very specific / blueprint idea for features in a videogame and the corporation 100% used it and made millions from it. This wasn't just 1 idea, this was a nearly 1000-word "blueprint" that got into the specifics of how it'd all work together. The link to the idea was also emailed to them well before they implemented it in the game, so they were aware of it.

Can they be sued for copyright infringement retroactively if the blueprint was posted publicly (and the link sent to them). Also this blueprint wasn't available anywhere else on the internet. .

Thanks for any info!

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  • Does this answer your question? How to protect my idea by copyright?
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 20 at 8:00
  • @Trish The word "idea" in this question is a red herring. The substance needs to be looked at.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Mar 20 at 14:36
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    What do you mean by a "blueprint"? A visual design? Architectural drawings are copyrightable but the design they represent isn't.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 20 at 16:45

2 Answers 2

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Ideas have no legal protection

Provided they didn’t breach the copyright in your words, they can take all the ideas they like.

Even a highly detailed "blueprint" or specification of gameplay elements is unlikely to be infringed by a game (or novel, or film) that fully implements the outline. When people submit such proposals, they usually seek contractual protections for their ideas because IP law doesn't cover them.

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    Why can't the game be derivative work from the blueprint? Why can't it be legally protected like movie scenarios/treatments are?
    – Greendrake
    Commented Mar 20 at 3:34
  • @Greendrake because ideas are UNCOPYRIGHTABLE
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 20 at 7:59
  • @Trish Who's talking about ideas? BLUEPRINT. Tell that to a movie screenplay writer whose work got stolen and a film was made based on it.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Mar 20 at 11:44
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    @Greendrake the plaintiff has the burden of proof for that. Defendant only needs to show on the balance of probabilities that they didn't know. E.g. Magic's head designer has publicly stated that it's WOTC policy for designers to stop reading an email if looks like a fan-made idea, presumably to maintain this defence. OP can't just say "I emailed them" or "I put it up online", they have to show that the game company read that email.
    – Caleth
    Commented Mar 20 at 16:13
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    @Greendrake "Can they be sued?" is always yes. "Can I expect to win a suit" or "Can I expect a suit to survive a motion for summary judgement" are more what people mean by that question.
    – Caleth
    Commented Mar 20 at 16:37
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can they be sued for copyright infringement?

Yes.

Although ideas are not copyrightable, blueprints are.

A game built on a blueprint is a derivative work based on it (analogous to movies filmed based on a screenplay).

The key issue would be to prove that the game developer indeed used the blueprint. Absent direct acknowledgment from them, this can potentially be proved by inference (e.g. based on reasonable unlikeliness that particular similarities were coincidental). It would be, however, up to the jury (or the judge in a bench trial) to draw that inference. They have 100% discretion to draw or not to draw it (which means they could potentially accept a bribe from the game developer to not draw it).

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