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legal issues with game review blog?

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by olddocks, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. #1
    i am planning to start a blog about games where i plan to rate and review some of ps3 and pc games which i played. The reviews and ratings will be given by me only and not by website visitors.

    * i am planning to publish screenshots and some gameplay video uploaded to youtube in the blog.
    * i am planning to put adsense in the blog for revenue.

    What worries me is the game publishers would come after me for copyrights and issue DMCA takedown.

    is there anything i should be aware of of running such game related sites? what legal issues would i face?

    Need some good advice!
    olddocks, Jun 15, 2009 IP
  2. agentxyz

    agentxyz Peon

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    #2
    I think there wont be any problem to you in expressing your personal experiences/reviews of different games. But make sure you wont use trademarks in domain name, one guy is facing problems after registering .info extension of a trademarked domain.

    otherwise, no problems at all AFAIK.

    Regards,
    AgentXYZ
    agentxyz, Jun 15, 2009 IP
  3. pcboy

    pcboy Peon

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    #3
    what do you mean by trademarked domain.. like nokia.info ???
    pcboy, Jun 15, 2009 IP
  4. olddocks

    olddocks Well-Known Member

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    #4
    is it ok to publish 1 or 2 game screenshot taken while playing the game?
    olddocks, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  5. JHGAMES

    JHGAMES Peon

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    #5
    No problem at all, especially not now that you have 0 traffic. You shouldn't worry about trivial stuff like this but just start working.
    JHGAMES, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  6. hmansfield

    hmansfield Notable Member

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    #6
    No. Not at all. That is the same as showing unauthorized movie clips. It's a blatant infringement.
    You either have to get permission, or use the already distributed game clips, trailers, and photos that are put out by the company.

    Just to make it clear. You cannot record yourself playing the game, and then post it on You Tube.
    Yes, I know you see it done all the time, and they do it on TV. Keep in mind that Sony, and Universal own a crap load of cable stations, along with that they are also video game producers, so in essence what they are doing is promoting within their own company over the various mediums that they already own.

    For Instance, Game Spot is owned by CBS which also owns:
    * CBS Television Network
    * CBS Entertainment
    * The CW
    * CBS Television Stations
    * CBS Television Distribution
    * CBS Television Studios
    * CBS Studios International
    * CBS Outernet
    * Showtime
    * CBS Radio
    * CBS Outdoor
    * Simon & Schuster
    * CBS Interactive (Games)
    * CBS College Sports
    * CBS Consumer Products
    * CBS Films

    NBC Universal Produces Attack of the Show, Game Box, Xplay, IGN, G4, and Gamespot,
    and they also own:

    Bravo
    CNBC
    Focus Features
    GE
    Global Networks
    13th Street
    Sci-Fi Channel
    Movies24
    Hallmark Channel
    StudioUniversal
    Universal Channel
    DivaTV
    KidsCo
    Kids
    Local Stations
    MSNBC
    mun2
    NBC
    NBC Experience
    NBC News
    NBC Olympics
    NBC Sports
    NBC Store
    NBC Universal Television Distribution
    NBC Enterprises
    Universal Television Distribution
    NBCU Cable Affiliate Support
    NBCU Marketplace
    Oxygen
    Pay Per View/VOD
    Sci Fi
    ShopNBC
    Telemundo
    Universal Pictures
    Universal Production Studios
    Universal Studios Home Video
    Universal Studios Theme Parks: Featured Attraction
    Universal Studios Theme Parks: Hollywood
    Universal Studios Theme Parks: Japan
    Universal Studios Theme Parks: Mediterranea
    Universal Studios Theme Parks: Orlando
    Universal Studios Theme Parks: Tickets
    Universal Television
    USA Network
    The Weather Channel


    I won't even get into what Sony owns, it should be self explanatory.

    So you see, everything is always not what it seems and gaming companies are now part of larger entities that will sue you ass off for fun, just so the 10 floors of lawyers that they employ can keep their teeth sharp.

    Ask permission, or ask for promotional clips.
    hmansfield, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  7. olddocks

    olddocks Well-Known Member

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    #7
    i am willing to approach for permission and if need be i can spend.
    How do i get in touch with game producers?
    olddocks, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  8. AzzX

    AzzX Peon

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    #8
    I doubt they would sue a blogger for some petty screenshots.

    The negative impact by doing so would be disastrous.
    AzzX, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  9. hmansfield

    hmansfield Notable Member

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    #9
    The same as anyone else. Go to the corporate sites contact page and search out the person most responsible for permissions, legal, or licensing.
    I would suggest getting your site in order first and make it as professional and complementary to their products as possible. How or if they answer you may greatly depend on if they even want to be a part of your site.

    If I were you, I would function with the promotional material that is already available and grow your readership and traffic, before approaching someone for permission to go an extra mile with their content.

    Maybe ask a few questions via email, just to get the rules down of what's allowed.

    Just remember that from the time that you make them aware of you, you will then need to operate by the book from that point on.

    Games are a highly competitive market, and with all the media and distribution channels that game makers have at their disposal, you are going to need to do something fabulous to get them to work with you.

    Hate to say it but game blogs are a dime a dozen, every 5 minutes someone from this forum alone is starting one up.
    hmansfield, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  10. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #10

    You are dead wrong if you think the use of screen shots and images is always prohibited or the only options are those you have laid out. You really need to read up on "fair use".

    Are you aware of any case which holds that it is a copyright violation for the mere use of 1 or 2 screen shots in a game review?
    browntwn, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  11. hmansfield

    hmansfield Notable Member

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    #11
    Dude...read before you jump down my throat. No one is saying that screen shots will get you in trouble. The companies make screen shots, and game clips readily available, just like movie trailers, but going outside of the authorized released promotions and posting your own edited version of video of the game requires permission, and games have the same protection as feature films.

    The game play clips that you see are carefully crafted and released just like a movie clips, you can't just take it upon yourself to post any video of it that you like...it's not yours to do so, not to mention the music in the games that is protected as well.

    We are not talking about pong, we are talking about programming and production that rivals any feature film out there. One of my favorite games, Hitman had a soundtrack made by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra...do you think that you can just take the video and music and upload that on to You tube to sell your own ads ?

    Games feature music and voice overs from professional, union musicians and actors, and they have protection not to be re used or rebroadcast without expressed consent.
    Think about it.

    hmansfield, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  12. kashirakaze

    kashirakaze Active Member

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    #12
    Olddocks, I'm an experienced game reviewer myself so I can help you here (and for what its worth, I have a Bachelors in Criminal Justice). If you are taking the screenshot or video yourself, then it is fine to post it. Fair use laws exempt this type of usage from copyright so long as you keep it within reason. This means you don't show an hour of the game, but 3 to 5 minutes is completely acceptable. The only trouble you would get in is if you scoured the web and found a picture or video and simply took it without asking whoever created/uploaded that.

    Look at websites like www.thegameheroes.com and www.screwattack.com. These sites are very popular gaming sites which do video reviews of games. They don't ask to use any footage because it is exempt from copyright under fair use.

    It is fine. Don't listen to hmansfield.
    kashirakaze, Jun 16, 2009 IP
    olddocks likes this.
  13. wibblet

    wibblet Banned

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    #13
    Olddocks I too like kashirakaze am an experienced game reviewer and blogger if you look at my sig. As long as you mention the companies in your review it's fine and like kashirakaze said as long as you show a reasonable amount of game footage which tends to fall in the 3 min zone then you're okay. Trust me no game company will come at your for copyright infringement unless you're making money off their product which you are not.
    wibblet, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  14. hmansfield

    hmansfield Notable Member

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    #14
    Yes, don't listen to hmansfield. Then listen to Russell Rains.

    He is an entertainment lawyer based in Austin, Texas who specializes in trademark and copyright law, especially as applies to digital and emerging media. He is currently serving as Director of the new MBA in Digital Media Management Program at St. Edward’s College in Austin, and is the former head of the Entertainment and Sports Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.

    There is a difference between not getting caught or prosecuted, and what is legal. Check out the first 2 seconds of this interview to know the difference from a lawyer that actually practices copyright law as it pertains to video games. Your exact question is asked and answered.

    I don't know where you guys get this "3 to 5 minutes is considered fair use stuff". What law is that written into ? I also noticed that one of the sites that you use as an example uses clips from Gametrailers.com, which has promotional video clips that are released from the game companies, just like movie trailers...of course those are fine to use.

    Just for the record, not to down play your education, congratulations, but a bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice has nothing to do with copyright law. I am trying to give him advice on what is legal, not what other people are getting away with. Armed with the correct information, he can then investigate further for himself and make his own decisions on how to proceed after that.


    http://www.artistshousemusic.org/videos/video+games+and+copyright+law
    hmansfield, Jun 16, 2009 IP
  15. wibblet

    wibblet Banned

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    #15
    okay hmansfield lets just say that either of us do get in trouble what is the benefit of these huge corporations attacking and shutting down small blogs praising their merchandise and even giving them hits and sales?

    Just think about it they would have to take you to court and that takes time and time equals money especially with there hot shot lawyers? please they aren't stupid unless you're making money off their product then don't expect EA's lawyers knocking on your door.
    wibblet, Jun 17, 2009 IP
  16. hmansfield

    hmansfield Notable Member

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    #16
    I'm not trying to speculate if they would care, or "what's in it for them", I was merely pointing out what is legal, which was the question. No one can accurately anticipate which way a giant will step, they can only say that they haven't been stepped on yet.

    As far as time and money...they have billions. They employ entire legal departments who's job is nothing else but protecting brands and copyright, so the only time and money wasted would be yours. This is their job. They don't go to work at a law office, and send NBC/Universal (for instance) a bill because they sent some blog a notice..they actually work for NBC/Universal, and get paid the same every week to protect their brands.

    When I was a bartender here in Vegas, we would routinely show PPV fights, taped from home at the bar. Thinking that there is no way HBO is going to care or even know about some neighborhood bar showing taped fights. Well they did, and sent their lawyers into the bar and slapped us with a warning to stop immediately or pay a $10,000 fine for each person in the bar.

    The NFL did the same thing out here to local bars and casinos that were charging for Super Bowl parties, that's why you don't see then anymore.
    Don't ever say it can't happen because your are a small player. It can and it does. This is what they get paid to do! They didn't just send us an email...they jumped on their company planes and showed up !

    You ever see kids in the store that keep repeating their parents names over and over trying to get attention , and the parents don't say anything until they have finally had enough and snap at the kid to shut the hell up?
    All the while the kid is repeating, he is under the impression that it is not really ticking his mom off (because she is not saying anything) , and when she has enough and he gets yelled at, he is surprised and usually cries.

    To me, this is the same thing. As long as no one ever hears of anyone getting in trouble, everyone assumes it must be OK.


    If the OP had asked "Do you think they will prosecute me" then that would be a different discussion.

    Obviously with the amount of media that gaming companies already have to promote their product properly (the way they want it promoted), they have thought this through, which is why so many media companies merged in the last 5 years...much of that was particularly to get Internet portals and video game companies, or at least distribution deals for video games. Everyone loves free press and promotion, but they have all ready seen fit to buy hundreds of media outlets around the world to do just that. If there was never another video game blog ever on the earth, they would be just fine getting the word out and selling games. A simple game trailer at the beginning of a feature film (which they also own) at the theater (That they are a partner in) is going to reach more people around the world than any combination of blogs ever could...that's why they have purchased so much landscape.... Reach everyone, in every market, on every medium. They are in complete control of their marketing.

    I deal with a lot of music companies, and artist managers and they have been very generous with me in the form of running contests, giveaways, products to review, demos, backlinks, quotes on reviews, breaking news on my site, etc.

    I think much of it is mainly due to the fact that I follow the rules, respect copyright, don't link to illegal downloads, and promote their product the way they want it promoted.

    I don't take liberties and play the odds by remixing songs, posting unauthorized videos (even if they are on You Tube !), bootlegs and such and it has paid off into a great relationship with some of the top named artists, and promoters in the niche.

    There are plenty of blogs and websites in that particular niche that post self made videos, link to free downloads and mixes, and other things that the artists aren't exactly happy about. No they don't go after many of them, because they are insignificant, but those very same sites, scrape my site ( and others that follow the rules) for breaking news, because we get it first, They list my contests, because the companies don't run contests with them. They will never break a story, or get an interview from a top name, or be able to give away promo products, tickets and such without paying for them. They are stuck being second best, and looking to others for information because the record companies don't take them seriously because they are pushing the envelope, taking liberties and trying to operate under the radar to get a few extra clicks on their ads.

    I have had this conversation before with other bloggers that ask how I do or get certain stuff, and I tell them point blank, "because I don't do the crap that you do".

    Sure they can purchase new releases and give them away, but I give them away autographed from the source, with posters, shirts and concert tickets.

    You can do it any way you wish, the odds are, unless they want to make an example of you, you piss them off, or they make sweeping changes to protect copyright (which the gaming industry will probably do before any of them), no one is going to come knocking on your door...but if you want the respect of the industry and a good relationship with the companies, I would chose to do it in a way that they appreciate, not in a way that they merely tolerate.
    hmansfield, Jun 17, 2009 IP
  17. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #17
    You replied to a direct question about screen shots, you even quoted it. I replied with respect to screen shots. You are the one that needs to slow down and read. You end up basically agreeing with what I said and have now posted two contradictory things.

    Nowhere do I say that it is okay to post videos of game play on you tube. You are throwing that into the mix for no reason when, the op's question, and my reply, deal solely with his use of screen shots.
    browntwn, Jun 17, 2009 IP
  18. kashirakaze

    kashirakaze Active Member

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    #18
    I reiterate, don't listen to hmansfield. You will be fine, docks.
    kashirakaze, Jun 17, 2009 IP
  19. hmansfield

    hmansfield Notable Member

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    #19
    No backtracking. I said it was illegal to post videos of game play. Proved it to be correct according to a copyright attorney. and gave examples of personal experience with being slammed with copyright notices.
    True enough, I quoted the wrong section of his question, but always agreed that promotional images are meant to be used. My answers were about posting video.

    I don't care if you like me or not (I mean we don't even know each other) , but I have a tendency to be a dick when people tell me I don't know what I'm talking about, and then they end up being wrong...but my point was proven. I would think providing the correct information for the OP would be the most important thing.

    I wrote repeatedly that promotional clips and images are made available and are OK to use.
    Don't try and twist it just because you were wrong in trying to discredit me.

    Read the OP !
    This is the issue I addressed. I don't care what you try and say after the fact.

    Now lets stop with petty quibbling over semantics and concentrate on helping the person who started the thread.
    hmansfield, Jun 17, 2009 IP
    olddocks likes this.
  20. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #20
    browntwn, Jun 17, 2009 IP