Stealing characters? CEO at on copyright in games

14 June 2017 Stealing characters? CEO at on copyright in games

The startup was one of the exhibitors at WEGAME 2.0. Its unique controllers for interaction with virtual reality attracted attention of many visitors.

CEO at and co-founder at the consulting company Olans Group Svetlana Malevannaya is actively studying the market and organizing workshops dedicated to legal aspects of gamedev, the IT sphere, etc.

Especially for WEGAME, she shared the case study from her legal practice, which revealed some peculiarities of copyright in video games. Read, it’s useful!

A disputable game   

“There was a dispute regarding violation of copyright in one game. The reason lied in game characters that reminded Marvel and DC Comics heroes.

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Lots of people doubted that developers could be brought to justice. Though rights were undoubtedly violated, they weren’t at any risk. Representatives of Marvel and DC Entertainment wouldn’t come to Ukraine to deal with them”.

Peculiarities of legal protection of the rights

“I couldn’t fully agree with that because evaluation of copyright objects is a very subjective issue. Everything depends on the level of scrutiny and phantasy of people defending interests of both parties.

One of them will emphasize similarity between characters and prove the fact of violation. The other one will try to convince the opponent that 80% of the character’s features were elaborated which means that it is a new copyright object.

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If the most notable features (for example, speech, gait, appearance details) were changed, it doesn’t mislead users because they understand that although heroes look alike, they are different characters. The case will be won by the specialist who can make a rival agree”.

Other protection forms

“The aforementioned circumstances are related to legal systems in the majority of countries. But there are other protection forms which are not jurisdictional. For instance, anyone can file a complaint about violation of his/her own rights or rights of the third party and ask to stop it. Settlement of the request is another matter.

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One more important aspect is product distribution. For example, if an app is available in Play Market, it was added by a developer who agreed to all rules of license agreement. All online platforms have their own rules violation of which can be punished by banning or deleting the user’s account”.

What happened to the game?

“The disputable game I talked about at the beginning faced the same issue. In case of real legal proceedings, the chances would have been 50/50 and the result would have depended on the defender’s and the complainant’s skillfulness.

But there was a different situation. Some guys (not from Marvel or DC) complained about the product and gathered a certain amount of users’ complaints about violation of copyright of the third party in the game. Play Market deleted the app. That’s how the story finished.


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“Everything regarding intellectual property and copyright, especially in games, is at risk in many ways. You shouldn’t be too self-confident and think that if The Walt Disney Company or Marvel Entertainment don’t come to deal with you, you will get away with it.

There is much leverage capable of harming both business and reputation. Sometimes it is not necessary to violate something, rivals can “help” you with that. These peculiarities should be considered beforehand.”

Interested in copyright? Svetlana spoke about the issue in detail in the interview to Robohunter. Besides, on June 20, HUB 4.0 will host her workshop “Game Defense: protect your profit and property”. Click here to find out more.


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