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Using inspiration from classic games eg.Mario illegal?

So I'm pretty good at making artwork for games on things like illustrator or photoshop and whatever, and I wanted to 'Easter egg' mario's head into my game, so I found a pixelated image of it on google images, opened up illustrator and made the head from scratch so that it looks very simillar to it and it recognisable, so this was completely my own work as I made it from scratch, it isn't a 100:100 scale so it isn't perfectly simillar and I only used the image as a means of knowing how to make it, however it is clear that it is Mario (which was my intention in the first place), so would this be illegal to use in my game?

Thanks :)

Comments

  • SocksSocks London, UK.Posts: 12,822Member

    @AIM said:
    this was completely my own work as I made it from scratch

    Copying something doesn't make it your work (not in a legal / intellectual property sense at least), if I were to trace a picture of Spiderman from a comic that would give me no more legal right to use the image in an app than if I were to simply scan it.

  • ArmellineArmelline Posts: 4,753Member, PRO

    It's a muddy issue. On the one hand, Nintendo own the right to the likeness of Mario, and it doesn't matter if you draw him yourself or use one of their images.

    On the other hand, if your use falls under parody or under fair use, you may get away with it. It's not uncommon to see nods to copyrighted characters in games and films, such as hidden Mickey Mouse ears etc.

    Realistically, you'd probably get away with it. But you might not, and then you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

  • SocksSocks London, UK.Posts: 12,822Member

    @Armelline said:
    On the other hand, if your use falls under parody or under fair use, you may get away with it. It's not uncommon to see nods to copyrighted characters in games and films, such as hidden Mickey Mouse ears etc.

    Yeah, he might swing it if it plays no real part in the game, if it were just a one off little cameo.

    @Armelline said:
    Realistically, you'd probably get away with it. But you might not, and then you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

    Super Mario Prison ?

  • KiwiLeeKiwiLee Posts: 181Member
    edited June 2014

    As it's only an easter egg and NOT the remit of the entire game I'd go for it. Worst case you should have a back up plan ready for a quick update. As long as you steer clear of Mario the word, icons and screen images having a dig at the character in the deepest bowels of the game 'parody' would be considered fair game.

    Just make sure the easter egg is a little tricky to achieve.

  • AIMAIM Posts: 8Member, PRO

    Well the actual character isn't being used, it's literally a pixel version of his head, and say it wasn't mario and was a different character completely, but its a pixel version of their head and you can easily recognise the character, and the gameplay of my game is literally nothing at all like mario in the slightest, AND everyone who plays the game will see this head, they will know it represents mario, but i'm not mentioning the word mario or anything to do with him in the slightest, could i still get done for it? I'm not even showing an "M"

  • AIMAIM Posts: 8Member, PRO

    And let's be realistic, Flappy Bird literally copied the mario setting and the pipes and even openly admitted to using it as inspiration for his pixelated design, it was also one of the most known and downloaded apps ever on the app store, if that didn't incur any lawful issues surely a mock of marios head having nothing to do with the original game will get away with it?

    Separate question: If I use the same noise that's used in sonic when he collects a coin, or a sound effect from any game, would this be completely discouraged? I imagine the direct copy of a noise would probably attract for issues than a picture so yeh..

  • IMakeGamesLikeThisIMakeGamesLikeThis Beaverton, OregonPosts: 64Member
    edited July 2014

    It's illegal to use copyrighted material for commercial use. You can get away with it if the creators of the material weren't to come after you for using their material. However, unless the creators of the material specifically state that you CANNOT use their material for non-commercial use, you can use it as long as you don't profit from their material.

    In the example of Flappy Bird's Mario-like pipes, the creator of Flappy Bird didn't actually make profits off of those pipes, so therefore he wasn't using them for commercial use, which is probably why Nintendo didn't sew him (once you think about it, Nintendo's lost a lot of money from the 3DS and Wii U, so buy the rights to Flappy Bird would make them quite a bit of money, so if they could, they would have sewed him for it). These kind of topics are very hard to answer because it all depends on what the creator of the material does about the issue. You'll probably be able to do what you want to do.

    However, you can't legally be sewed if you're below 18 years of age because you can't hire a lawyer without signing a legal contract which you can't do until you're 18 years of age. However, the creator of the material, in this case Nintendo, they can still force you to stop using their material for any use or for a certain use, and if you don't follow their restrictions, your parents can be charged with copyright infringement and you could possibly go to juvy.

    You might think I have some personal experience with this sort of thing, but no, I have not. I just know my rights. Just remember that using copyrighted material is a risky move.

  • IMakeGamesLikeThisIMakeGamesLikeThis Beaverton, OregonPosts: 64Member

    @AIM said:
    And let's be realistic, Flappy Bird literally copied the mario setting and the pipes and even openly admitted to using it as inspiration for his pixelated design, it was also one of the most known and downloaded apps ever on the app store, if that didn't incur any lawful issues surely a mock of marios head having nothing to do with the original game will get away with it?

    Separate question: If I use the same noise that's used in sonic when he collects a coin, or a sound effect from any game, would this be completely discouraged? I imagine the direct copy of a noise would probably attract for issues than a picture so yeh..

    Music and sounds, especially from these big-name companies like Nintendo and Sega (Sega is now owned by Nintendo, by the way) would give way to much more trouble. Believe me, I wouldn't mind using a couple songs from the Legend of Zelda series in an RPG game, but Nintendo would be all over me about that. Your best bet with music and sounds is to download open-source files from the internet. If you really wanted to, you could give Nintendo a call and ask them very politely for permission to use one of their sounds, but they'll probably just laugh at you hysterically for a few minutes, then hang up...

  • SocksSocks London, UK.Posts: 12,822Member
    edited July 2014

    @IMakeGamesLikeThis said:
    It's illegal to use copyrighted material for commercial use. You can get away with it if the creators of the material were to come after you for using their material.

    This statement makes no sense !?

    @IMakeGamesLikeThis said:
    However, unless the creators of the material specifically state that you CANNOT use their material for non-commercial use, you can use it as long as you don't profit from their material.

    This is simply nonsense :) copyrighted works grant the holder exclusive rights to that IP, you are not free to use copyrighted work without the holder's permission, regardless of whether you sell someone else's property for personal profit or whether you give someone else's property away without their permission.

    @IMakeGamesLikeThis said:
    In the example of Flappy Bird's Mario-like pipes, the creator of Flappy Bird didn't actually make profits off of those pipes, so therefore he wasn't using them for commercial use . . .

    Bizarre logic.

    @IMakeGamesLikeThis said:
    which is probably why Nintendo didn't sew him (once you think about it, Nintendo's lost a lot of money from the 3DS and Wii U, so buy the rights to Flappy Bird would make them quite a bit of money, so if they could, they would have sewed him for it).

    Again, more bizarre logic !?

    @IMakeGamesLikeThis said:
    However, you can't legally be sewed if you're below 18 years of age because you can't hire a lawyer without signing a legal contract which you can't do until you're 18 years of age.

    You cannot be sued for breach of contract, but IP infringement is not breach of contract.

    @IMakeGamesLikeThis said:
    However, the creator of the material, in this case Nintendo, they can still force you to stop using their material for any use or for a certain use, and if you don't follow their restrictions, your parents can be charged with copyright infringement and you could possibly go to juvy.

    Whatever happened to the face-palm emoticon ? :)

    @IMakeGamesLikeThis said:
    You might think I have some personal experience with this sort of thing . . .

    Hmmm . . .

    I'd be careful giving out legal advice on the internet.

  • IMakeGamesLikeThisIMakeGamesLikeThis Beaverton, OregonPosts: 64Member
    edited July 2014

    It's illegal to use copyrighted material for commercial use. You can get away with it if the creators of the material were to come after you for using their material.

    I meant to say "You can get away with it if the creators of the material weren't to come after you for using their material. I change it now to weren't. I say this because if they don't come after you, then no one will.

    However, unless the creators of the material specifically state that you CANNOT use their material for non-commercial use, you can use it as long as you don't profit from their material.

    Yeah, you're probably right about that. I wasn't exactly sure about that part. I thought that because I used a couple songs from the Legend of Zelda series in a game I made for myself using GameMaker, but I never published it, so only I see it. I did nothing wrong by doing that.

    @Socks said:
    Hmmm...

    I'd be careful giving out legal advice on the internet.

    Yeah, but I was answering a question. Besides, I know more about the right to bear arms than about copyright. :)

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