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Lucian Evans
corporate games
on Feb 23, 2011 at 1:47:22 pm

Hi

I'm working on a project currently where an animator has designed a board which incorporates a pie chart. The board game is recognisable as belonging to a popular game. Could anyone tell me looking at the image below as to whether i would infringe copyright. I'm based in the UK if that makes a difference.

thanks
Lucian



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Mark Suszko
Re: corporate games
on Feb 23, 2011 at 2:54:22 pm

That looks very like a Monopoly board with the center chanegd, the way the edge boxes are styled, so yes, I think you might have cause to worry.

OTOH, calling Parker Bros. might not be such a bad thing: they license SO MANY variations of the game, maybe it isn't as expensive as you think to get permission to use it legally.

An alternative would be to see if snakes and ladders is still protected, and, failing that, well, make your own more original board from scratch.


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Nick Griffin
Re: corporate games
on Feb 23, 2011 at 3:13:42 pm

Lucian-
You're really going to need a legal opinion from a solicitor in the UK. I believe that, based on my understanding of how much of an original has to be changed to not violate a copyright, this might be OK in the US. (Emphasis on MIGHT be OK.)

As to contacting Parker Brothers... that might be problematic. Especially if your project is low profile enough that it's not likely to ever be seen by them, that contact may generate a level of expense and complication your project may not want. If, on the other hand this is being used widely and in a very public manner you could be creating serious, long-term liability by not having the proper clearance.

That's my free non-legal opinion and worth every penny not paid for it.


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Chris Tompkins
Re: corporate games
on Feb 23, 2011 at 6:44:57 pm

I'd say there is no name/text/logo's on there - you're fine.
But I'm not a lawyer.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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Mark Suszko
Re: corporate games
on Feb 23, 2011 at 7:59:50 pm

I agree with the second part of your sentence.:-)


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Nick Griffin
Re: corporate games
on Feb 23, 2011 at 8:54:09 pm

This may come down to how litigious the copyright holder is. Even when they know in advance that they may not prevail in court, many large companies will go to extreme lengths to protect what they consider their intellectual property / market identity. If the message of Lucian's project is "make sure your property has adequate insurance coverage," they may not care. On the other hand if the message is "Don't let a dumb board game monopolize your free time," then the copyright holder may decide to come at you with both guns blazing.

And yes, Mark. I'm not a lawyer either.


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Mark Suszko
Re: corporate games
on Feb 23, 2011 at 9:20:39 pm

I can tell you this: that it is realtively cheap and easy to get a customized vesion of Monopoly made, on the up-and-up. I know of several towns and state universities that have had customized Monopoly games made up for them, as fund-raisers, and the University of Illinois would have been VERY conscious of copyright laws.

So, that's why I'm saying making the inquiry may not be so scary in this case. Certainly a google search about it by your friend will not implicate you any more than the original post for this thread has already.


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Lucian Evans
Re: corporate games
on Feb 24, 2011 at 10:59:01 am

Thanks for all your responses it's certainly interesting to think about how much something has to be changed before it is not stealing someone elses design/idea.

I've spoken to the clients solicitors today and they said we would be infringing copyright and they don't fancy going to court with Parker bros.

I've sent an email to the animator telling him to adjust the look. I know he's not gonna be happy as he's put in a few days.

I might just send Parker bros an email, you never know.

thanks again
Lucian



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Mark Suszko
Re: corporate games
on Feb 24, 2011 at 4:04:59 pm

I tend to look positively at restrictions like this, as they seem to stimulate my creativity. When you can literally do anything, the overwhelming number of options can paralyze you, but facing something like the restrictions of the haiku format forces you to be perhaps *more* creative, in a sense. One of the reasons I like spot work is just that restriction of telling the most and best story in only about 810 frames (when you add in the fade in and fade out)

As far as your artist, I suggest change the base color of the board dramatically from the Monopoly standard, eliminate the color tabs from the boxes and change their proportions, probably going for fewer would make things simpler. Maybe make the boxes look like low--poly-count, low-rez, low-wall office cubes, which may actually improve the underlying messages of the visuals, and once your artist models one office cube in 3d, duplicating more of them is cake. Add a randomizing number wheel spinner to the board, and use office-like icons like file folders, water coolers, copiers, executive washroom keys, fancy task chairs, stuff like that.

See, in literally fifteen seconds I just went from a clone of a Monopoly board to something more original-looking and perhaps even better for illustrating the program material.

Another direction to go might be to emulate the blocky, 8-bit graphic style of 80's-era video games. Perhaps more work than your artist has time for, but it is another idea to throw at the wall, anyhow.

The more restrictions you throw at me, the more creative it seems to make me. Like haiku. Try approaching it like that.


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Mike Cohen
Re: corporate games
on Mar 9, 2011 at 2:05:24 am

If you have to ask that often answers your question

As an aside when I was a kid in Des Moines we often took cub scout and school field trips to the local Parker Brothers factory. They would give you a free board game at the end of the tour. Usually some new game before it got popular.

Then this one time at summer camp...

Mike Cohen


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Rich Rubasch
Re: corporate games
on Mar 13, 2011 at 1:44:58 am

Mark said:

One of the reasons I like spot work is just that restriction of telling the most and best story in only about 810 frames (when you add in the fade in and fade out)


We don't put fade in and outs on spots anymore. :30 wall to wall spot. I notice in spot breaks these days there is no black between spots anymore. Check it out. Only after the break and returning to the show is there a fade up to the program.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: corporate games
on Mar 14, 2011 at 9:37:02 pm

I do it both ways, Rich, depending on the job because clients are fickle. Some stations complain to us about hard cuts out, and insist on at least a 7-frame fade on each end, others don't care if you cut to black at the very last frame, but prefer the start fades in. This has less to do with aesthetics than it does with the particular peculiarities of each stations' MC setup and server setup.

But your point is well taken, and when I'm trying to maximize a moment, I will often go to the very last legal frame and hard-cut out, if it makes story sense and gives me the extra time I need for the audience to read a graphic or feel a beat. When I write a spot, I factor in the sloppy hands and equipment of some MC operations, and I try not to put too vital of a copy point in the first couple of seconds, in case they are slow fading in the audio or switching from the pervious source or black. That way my spots don't seem jarringly "upcut", even when some guy has upcut them, and everything still makes sense.


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