0

Back in college, myself and a group of classmates created a video game for a "major design" requirement project. The game turned out to be pretty fun, and it won first prize in a student-run contest.

Now, 10 years later, I thought about rewriting the entire game from scratch using a modern engine, and selling it. I think it has potential to be a popular indie title.

Is this legal? None of the content would be taken from the old game, but the general design and game-play elements would be almost identical.

If possible, I'd also like to reuse the original name of the game as well.

Do I need to somehow contact my old classmates to acquire their permission? I honestly do not know how to contact them, and some of their names have even been forgotten. We only worked together for that one project.

1

The college where I went, all the projects realised at school for the school where you were noted, were the property of the said college. I do not know how much of the project is their property. Is it just the code or is it also the name, the logo, the concept, etc.? To be completely sure about that you must ask them. If you are scared that they might see here an opportunity to use that project before you, I suggest maybe asking a teacher that you trusted to look into it.

Note that here where I live (Canada), school project was kept for at least 2 months after the project is noted. After that, the teacher can get rid of it or keep it in their archive. Most teachers will get rid of it easily.

About your team: Are you the one who came up with the idea? Are you the one who came up with the logo?

Yes

Your are for the most part good to do what the hell you want with it. I would still suggest asking them if they are okay with it just to make sure that they won't come back at you once your project blowup.

No

If they helped in the creation of the concept and/or the logo, they have right on them. In that case, you have to ask them for their approval.

Since you are redoing the entire code behind it you don't need permission for the code that you will not use. (Logic)

I am no lawyer or specialist, but this is what I think you should do (by experiences).

1

We would need to know more details to answer e.g.

  • Is the code already licensed? It probably is by default either some license or specifically clearly not copyrighted

  • Were there ever similar cases? Yes. In most cases the code is changed into unrecognizability.

Ultimately it will be question about recognition or proprietary looks if there can be question of legal matter.

I think that the risk is low and that you should do it. One should also remember to be realistic about the actual technical development about which you can ask at gamedev.

You could also post your game copyright question at gamedev and ask about restrictions if any.

1

Probably OK.

Ideas/concepts are not copyrightable. Only their expression is, in this case the code and graphics. Since you plan on rewriting everything from scratch, there shouldn't be issues there (assuming you don't have perfect memory and can't remember the 10 year old code/graphics).

Even if you did copy the work, your college project would qualify as a joint work. Laws on joint works vary by jurisdiction, but in the U.S., you are an independent co-owner of the copyright and don't need the consent of your co-authors. However, you are required to share earnings. For further details, see here. This assumes the college doesn't take copyright as Ein mentioned.

Names are also not copyrightable but they may be trademarked. Sounds unlikely in your scenario, but it's always safest to check if the name is a registered trademark. In the U.S. this can be done by a search on the USPTO site.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.