Since 1.14, Minecraft has replaced all there texture files with new textures. They still offer the old ones as "Programmer art." I am making my own block sandbox game, and I need textures. However, since the old Minecraft textures are no longer officially in use, how legal is it to use them in my own game, if I cite Mojang? Or should I hit the pixel editor and make my own?

Would it be any less legal to use:

New diamond block

as opposed to:

Old diamond block

since the second one is no longer officially in use? What if I edit them slightly? My question is not black and white. As explained, there are other factors.

  • 1
    It is almost certainly a copyright violation without explicit permission to use those files, even if you cite the original author. – Ron Beyer Jan 7 at 19:37
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    Modifying them is a "derivative work" which requires you to have permission to modify it in the first place, it doesn't change the need for permission to use them in the first place, modifications or not. – Ron Beyer Jan 10 at 21:03

It's pretty black and white: no.

Almost every country in the world has joined the Berne Convention, and has copyright terms meeting the minimum standards of that convention (at least 50 years after the death of the author). Presumably, these textures are the original ones created by Markus Persson, so various special rules such as the US's 95 years for corporate authorship don't apply. In that case, the clock on the copyright term hasn't started ticking yet.

Modifying the textures won't help, either: this is called creating a derivative work. Most countries permit creating derivative works for certain purposes (such as commenting on the original work), but this won't help in your case. Your derivative work would be used as a reasonably direct competitor for Minecraft, which isn't permitted under any country's copyright law.

Copyright isn't a "use it or lose it" situation like trademark, either. The fact that these textures are unused in the current version of Minecraft has no bearing on their copyright status.

Independent creation is fine (copyright is about copying, after all), but you need to be sure your creation is independent -- you can't just bring up a Minecraft texture as a reference and draw something that looks like it. The safest option would be to find an artist to draw textures for you, and provide written descriptions of what you need (eg. "a tileable 32x32 pixel-graphics texture of a cross-section through dirt").

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  • I have seen ripoffs copieng exact textures. Are they breaking the law? – user29278 Jan 14 at 4:40
  • Also, what if I edit them? What if I recreate visually similar ones that look slightly different though? – user29278 Jan 14 at 4:43
  • @Asadefa Yes, those ripoffs are breaking the law. – Paul Johnson Jan 14 at 11:18
  • who determines whether they are based off of the original – user29278 Jan 15 at 16:41
  • What if I cite the author and say that I am fully compliant to any requests from Mojang to remove my game – user29278 Jan 15 at 17:05

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