IP issues...

was wondering where the 'thin red line' gets drawn with some intellectual property issues.

eg)
Some guy draws a weapon concept in 2d. Then he leaves the team (lets say disgruntled...). A model is then made (based off the 2d concept) and implemented into the game.

Does this mean that he (the 2D artist) could argue that the 3D model is a result of his IP being used, and ask that the 3D model be abolished from the project? (..assuming he left taking his IP with him, such as the sketches)

The way I see it... the 2D art is the 2D art... it is physical and on paper (or scanned & digital). The scanned image is not used. The physical piece of paper is not used. But new IP is created using them as reference.

This is what I meant by it being 'thin red line'.

Just say years ago I drew a fat plumber wearing red and blue overalls with a big M on his cap. ...I'd be mighty pissed off if I saw him as Nintendo's mascot (thats if I had previously showed it to the Nintendo artists) without being offered anything. So where would I stand if I said "Delete your digital versions of Mario.. because I made the original sketch that you based him off."

...in that case, the 2d sketch has become a primary marketable icon for a company, but in the 1st case, its just a weapon that has no major or defining role in the game....

But both are IP and both are 2d sketches.

Basically... I'm interested in knowing how things like this are dealt with. What issues are raised when concept art moves over to digital assests and when is somethign defined as "important".

DaMunkee's picture

How things are dealt with in the industry is that if someone works for a company, they sign wavers stating that any work they do, becomes sole property of the studio. Example: I drew mario 2d for nintendo. I leave, and decide to do a comic book that has a character that looks exaclty like the one I drew for mario. Nintendo can then come and Sue me because I'm using their IP even though I was the one that came up with it.

If you want to maintain the right to the 2d IP, that has to be part of the contract. Example: Nintendo want's me to make a character they will use. Part of the negotiations, I give up a substantial amount of pay but I retain the rights to that character. In the contract I would either give nintendo the rights to use the character in any game, or maybe just for 1 game.

Obviously companies are going to choose the first over the second becuase if it's a huge hit, they don't want to continue to shell out money to the artist.

Essentially, when in doubt, write it out and have both parties sign.

urgrund's picture

ok, thanks for the insight

Rahnem's picture

That depends on your contract. Usually if it was made to be used within the game and/or was made on company time, then it belongs to the dev company.

Essentially, as an artist, you are swapping your IP rights for any work you produce for your wage.

If you work via commission (ie get payed individually for each deliverable), however, and you don't get paid for your work then it is still your IP and you can sue them for using it.

Wizenedoldman's picture

Hey Urgrund,

From what I remember from my studies the 3D model would count as an interpretation of the 2D sketch and so would therefore not infringe on any copyright issues.

spageto's picture

But if you were doing the 2D drawing under your employment contract your employer would own it also.

Pantmonger's picture

Your contract has to specifically state that you are signing over your IP otherwise your retain them, you just don?t own the original work . In a nut shell IP is always yours unless you specifically give it over, which however, is a part of most contracts.
A lot of information on this type of subject can be gained if you have a look at the fun the comic book industry went through a few (10/15 or so) years back. Basically a bunch of people who created characters that went on to be big after they where fired cried foul, but lost in court because in their original contracts they had signed the IP rights away. Since then the comic book industry has changed a lot and established creators can often negotiate to retain IP.

Pantmonger

rgsymons's picture

Under Australian jurisdiction:

If you are an employee then you have no rights to the IP unless contracted otherwise. (This would also cover derivative works, such as a 3d representation of 2d works.)

If you are a contractor, rather than an employee, then you have rights to the IP unless contracted otherwise.

If the contracting/employing entity owns a trademark of the work, you will have no rights in either case above.

Cheers,

Ross.