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movie actors in selfmade game which is for free, legal?

polycounter lvl 5
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goekbenjamin polycounter lvl 5
Is it possible to make a game based on a movie, including its actors and used songs in it, in a selfmade game which is for free?
(and maybe just offer the user to "buy me coffe"?

If not, is it legal to make similar characters with similar names and similar songs (like its based on the movie or as inspirational source)?

thanks in advance!


  • pior
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    pior grand marshal polycounter
    Simple : ask a lawyer.
  • Tiles
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    Tiles greentooth
    Even simpler: when it's not clear, then it is clear. No explicit permission means no permission. Keep your hands away!
  • Equanim
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    Equanim polycounter lvl 11
    Studios take their trademarks and intellectual property very seriously.  Even if you aren't making any money, they could argue that you're voicing opinions or beliefs on their behalf and still sue you for damages to their IP.  The actors or their agencies would also sue you for likeness rights.

    Your best bet is to take elements of the story/setting/premise that you really like and abstract them beyond recognition.  Use the story arch or flavor of the setting as inspiration, but place it in your own universe and tell a slightly different story.

    For example: Terminator is super popular, but iRobot, Chappie, the Matrix, the Geth in Mass Effect, etc. all borrow the idea of "machines becoming sentient" and what that would do to society.  If you want to be more literal, use a story (probably not a movie) that's so old that it falls under creative commons.
  • goekbenjamin
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    goekbenjamin polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks for your replies and answers, really appreciate it!
  • cookepuss
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    cookepuss polycounter lvl 11
    Yeah. I think that the bottom line here is: If you don't own the rights, don't use the property. It's really that simple. Whether you're earning money or not, you're still stepping on some toes. Anything that you do can impact the IP's value or interfere with the IP holder's plans. Even if they have none atm, you're best off just to steer clear. IP has value and people/institutions don't like it when you mess around, unauthorized, in their toy chest. You might not get sued, but you may as easily get hit with a DMCA request or a C&D notice. 

    As Equanim said, just create something that you can call your own. IRL, all of the great ideas were used centuries ago. Everything out there now - game, movie, comic, etc - is just a clever repurposing of folk tales, mythology, and religious texts from the Greek/Roman era and well before. "New" is just an illusion, a repackaging of kitbashed concepts that came before. There's really nothing new under the sun.

    Some tips for creating something you're own?
    - Start with a 2D checkerboard-style matrix of ideas. List ideas in the X. List ideas in the Y. Try and marry two of them to birth something different.
    - Play a game of Mad Libs and fill in the blanks. CHARACTER is a PROFESSION and ACTIONS into a PLACE. They do ACTION in the style of MOVIE and CONSEQUENCE happens. You can really come up with and endless number of combinations by playing this type of game. Weird, different stuff that's really unique to you.
    -  Doodle. All of the time. You don't have to be good. Not every great CG artist is. Just doodle. When you find something that piques your interest, try to come up with different variations. Different style. Different local. Different character gender. Change of mood. Mashed with another concept that didn't work or maybe from a franchise/genre you admire.

    There's an old saying: Talent borrows. Genius steals. The only difference between the two is that one knows how to cover its tracks better than the other. :)

    You'll find that, if you examine any of your favorite movies, games, or whatever, they all tend to heavily "borrow" from other sources, but put enough of a fresh coat of paint and their own personality into the fusion that you rarely notice. (Houses like Disney even manage to "borrow" from themselves quite liberally too.) It all feels new and unique and, in the end, that's what really matters the most. Every idea has its origins.

    Another good quote, to paraphrase here: Do Not Seek To Follow In The Footsteps Of The Wise, Seek What They Sought.

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