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Game Design

A research guide for the Game Design program at Lesley Art + Design

Don't Steal: Intro to Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Domain

No one needs to apply for the copyright for an image, you own the copyright as soon as you create it, automatically. 

Just because something is available for free on the internet does not give you the right to publish it. The creator or publisher holds the rights, so you need to either (1) license it / pay for the right to use it (2) ask permission to use it for free or if you credit the creator (3) use only materials that aren't copyrighted

These laws apply to anything you publish publicly, so they don't apply to internal class assignments that are never made public.  You may want to include coursework in portfolios in the future, so try not to include other people's copyrighted visuals or audio.

Streaming & Fair Use

If you aren't allowed to publish someone else's work, then how does video game streaming work?  Check out this video for an explanation:

Music

If you are using someone else's music or audio clips you need to make sure you know what category it falls under.  In the music world, paying to use someone else's work is called "licensing" or "paying royalties". You aren't paying to own it, you're paying to use it.

  • If the musician published a track themselves and owns the copyright, try:
    • Checking their Youtube, Soundcloud, etc to see if they state anywhere how people are allowed to use their music (for example some might state you can use it in anything as long as you give credit)
    • Try reaching out to the artist via social media to ask if they own the rights and would give you permission to use it (remember how much you love when people ask you to create artwork for free)
  • If the musician worked with producers, publishers, or distributors:
    • Try reaching out to the artist via social media to ask if they own the rights and would give you permission to use it (remember how much you love when people ask you to create artwork for free)
    • Check the description of a YouTube video for the song to see if it says "Licensed to YouTube by", if so look up that company's website to see if they have a form for requesting a quote to license it, like this one.
  • If you found it as part of a "royalty-free" "copyright-free" "public domain" or "Creative Commons Zero/CC0" database:
    • You might have to pay a fee to the company that's collecting all this free music for you. For example Epidemic Sound has you pay a subscription to use their site, and then you have access to free audio tracks.