If some friends and I want to make an online video game based on a fantasy book series that we do not own, is it a copyright infringement?

UPDATED: Feb 17, 2012

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If some friends and I want to make an online video game based on a fantasy book series that we do not own, is it a copyright infringement?

 If it is infringement, how do we get around the legal issues?

Asked on February 17, 2012 under Business Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It would absolutely be copyright infringement; copyright gives the rights owner the right to control the creation of derivative and adapted works, including in different media.

It may also be trademark violation, if any of the characters, etc. are registered trademarks.

There is no way "around" the legal issues; you can either license the right to use these characters from whomever owns the rights; or you can create your own characters, settings, etc. Certainly, there can be similarities--for example, Tolkien's Elves and Dwarves are similar to the Elves and Dwarves of the Warhammer universe. However, while there can be similarities, they must be "generic" similarities, of type, not of specific characters, places, etc.--if anything is obviously adapted from another's work, you are infringing.

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