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I am currently in the process of finalizing the technology behind a game where users are able to create "lands" of their own.

  • Each land is upkept and expanded by Tokens.
  • Tokens are bought from Real Money Store.
  • Tokens are tradeable.
  • Users are able to create images(terrain, characters, monsters etc...) that fit their local "land" theme and enable other players to interact there.
  • The land creator receives tokens from visitors that like the land.
  • Tokens are not changeable to real currency.

My question is whether it counts as a breach of copyright if someone creates a "skyrim" or "Star wars" land and fills it with people and locations from that universe? They still need to create the art with the in-game tools, so I assume it's original artwork with names and lore based off existing IP)

And a second, derived question is whether my profit (people paying other people with tokens that they had to have bought from me) constitutes profiting from a copyrighted IP.

Obviously each land is reportable in a multitude of categories - nudity/pornographic content, IP violation, gore, violence, hate messages etc... and I assume it will take a significant amount of work to filter through those reports.

I am talking to lawyers about it, but there's a whole world out there and many of You can give perspectives from different countries so that I can ask the right questions and hire the right lawyers.

EDIT: EULA and TOS are of course going to be properly constructed to remove any liability I would have for user uploaded content. Are there countries where I am for exmaple still liable?

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    "They still need to create the art with the in-game tools, so I assume it's original artwork" - Not necessarily. If I use a tool like MS Paint (without copy/paste) to reproduce an image of copyrighted material, that is still copyright infringement. It doesn't have to be pixel-identical to be infringing. – Brandin Jan 19 '18 at 11:51
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    If your users upload (or "create with in-game tools") something infringing, you should have appropriate policies and procedures in place to deal with that. – Brandin Jan 19 '18 at 11:57
  • @Brandin I assumed wrong then. I did not consider that reproductions are not original content. Is it enough to have a proper EULA and ToS plus takedown of copyrighted content to avoid trouble? – Gensys LTD Jan 19 '18 at 18:28
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I would look into the legal Suit between Marvel and the makers of the now defunct MMO City of Heroes (CoH), NCSoft, which dealt with similar issues. I think Ultimately the Judge through the case out or it was settled out of court, but the problem Marvel had was that the images submitted as evidence were largely created by Marvel playing the game themselves and not third party users of CoH.

As a player of CoH, I do recall filling out a few incident reports for characters that were blatantly making copyrightable characters. Per CoH's EULA, all player characters technically were the property of CoH's parent company NCSoft and thus the quickly deleted the characters at issue, because they didn't own the rights to that character. Presumably you would need to set up some content moderation teams that would look at the reported abuse of your system.

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