Goose2k wrote: ↑
Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:56 am
That's kind of where I am at too, mentally. Just accept that I can never release this commercially and release the best version of the game for free with Tetris blocks.
Thanks. Everywhere I look I get a different legal summary of what Tetris Co. owns. I think the truth is, it doesn't really matter. Even if I managed to avoid all those things, if they send a cease and desist, I'm just going to have to take it down anyway.
Well, does it actually make a difference whether you release this commercially or not?
I'm certainly not an expert in copyright law... but my understanding is that the "I'm just giving it away for free!" cop-out making any difference whatsoever to whether legal action can be taken (and damages claimed) is the most long-living myth among young software developers. Frankly, I don't think this makes much difference at all in a potential legal case. Except perhaps that:
1) It could be argued the creator whose copyright might be infringed would be more ticked off if the copy-cat is being sold for money and thus more tempted to take legal action. i.e., that no matter what the law says about it they have the same *emotional* feeling about a product that is sold being worse than being given away for free.
2) Any marketing (which say a Kickstarter campaign would be) might draw more attention, and could also be argued to add confusion among consumers between which product is which. i.e., you won't stay off the radar as much.
3) When something is being sold it makes it a bit easier to track down and take action against the creator. But then again, you're already not completely anonymous as the creator of this IP?
My honest opinion would be that despite TTC's history, the risk for litigation seems relatively low because taking legal action against a NES homebrew looks like more trouble than it's worth compared to Tetris lookalikes for active systems. But neither should it be disregarded entirely.
And I would think that the most reasonable course of action is:
- Make the game different enough to your inspiration that you can genuinely convince yourself that it *is* in fact a different enough game from Tetris, and can honestly argue your case if you get in trouble. Because intent *does* matter in law.
- Accept that if trouble does show up at your doorstep you will probably still have to fold due to not having the financial / emotional resources to fight your case.
That's my two cents. But definitely don't take this as any form of professional advice on the matter. I'm just trying to highlight that it's not as clear-cut as "I'll be fine if I just give it away" or "I'll be in trouble if I sell it", whichever way it goes.
Again, I believe the commercial-or-not factor is of very minor relevance here. But anyone with more insight - please do correct me if I'm totally wrong here.