As the virtual reality industry grows, game developers must understand how to protect their work. Copyright law can be complex, but you can take some basic steps to ensure that you own the rights to your VR game. Following these tips can avoid legal problems and keep your game safe from infringement.
Include an explicit copyright notice in the game’s files.
As a game developer producing content for the fast-growing virtual reality (VR) market, it is paramount to identify and protect all of your creative works. One way to safeguard the ownership of your intellectual property (IP) is by including an explicit copyright notice in the game’s files. This notice is an initial protection against infringement cases, providing proof of authorship and allowing you to pursue legal action when necessary.
Furthermore, regularly displaying the copyright notice onscreen throughout the game reinforces this initial IP protection. Incorporating copyright notices as part of your processes will help secure your rights and provide peace of mind when creating content for this rapidly expanding medium.
Secure a patent or trademark for the game’s elements.
Another way to protect your VR game is to secure a patent or trademark for its components, such as original characters, artwork, music, and other creative works contained within the game. You may consult a reputable technology patent lawyer to assess the viability of your game’s IP and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect it.
Patents are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and provide exclusive rights to the inventor or developer of an invention for some time. Without your permission, no one else can use, manufacture, or sell your game’s components. Similarly, trademarks are issued by the USPTO to identify and distinguish a product from other products in the marketplace.
Get permission from code owners before using it.
Using someone else’s code or assets can be a handy shortcut when creating a game. However, for the game to remain legally and ethically sound, getting permission from the original creator is essential before using anything that isn’t your unique contribution.
Failing to do so could leave you open to unpleasant legal action — not to mention putting you at odds with the moral rights of another creator. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and contact the original author, or the company’s legal department, for permission first!
Keep track of who owns each piece of your game’s code and assets.
Ensuring every asset and line of code within your game is associated with its rightful author is of the utmost importance. Neglecting to keep track of who owns each piece can create costly problems later on if another person tries to claim ownership, leaving you vulnerable to expensive legal fees while contesting the matter.
In addition, proving ownership may be required if you want to monetize the game. Keeping up-to-date and organized records will ensure that when it comes time to prove ownership, you have all the materials necessary and are ahead of any mishaps.
Do NOT allow reselling or redistribution without permission.
If you’re selling a virtual reality (VR) game, be clear in the sale agreement that the buyer is not allowed to resell or redistribute the game without your permission is essential. Reselling and redistributing a VR game could lead to serious legal consequences and financial detriment to yourself, should they choose to do it without your approval.
Guaranteeing with an associated clause that their agreement includes following this rule will ensure fewer headaches for everyone involved. Furthermore, updating any necessary contract language at the beginning of purchase is essential—neglecting this step can result in unnecessary confusion down the line. Taking the time to properly handle legal issues regarding a sale of a VR game provides security for both parties involved and helps avoid any problems later on.
Keep your VR game files backed up.
When protecting your valuable VR game files, simply relying on the one copy you have stored on your computer is not enough. To make sure you have a backup in case something goes wrong or if your device fails, it’s important to keep a second (or even third) copy in a separate location.
To do this, you could use an external hard drive or USB flash drive to store another version of your game files away from your computer. Additionally, cloud storage options will provide an extra layer of safety and security for the updated versions of your game files. Ultimately, backing up your files in multiple locations offers optimal security and peace of mind.
No matter what type of VR game you’re creating, it’s important to make sure that you own all of the rights to the game and its code. By taking some simple steps at the beginning of your project, you can ensure that you won’t run into any legal problems down the line.