The current copyright act is The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and in total there has been three copyright acts within the UK. As mentioned in my previous post, the rights covered within the copyright act include protection of an individual’s physical works for example writing a novel or creating a painting or even a musical piece. The individual has a right to suggest how or when their material can be used. For example this law gives you the right to how or where your work will be shown or performed, it protects against copying, adapting, issuing, loaning or renting.
According to New Media Rights, Video games are protected as two separate works; Literary work and Audiovisual work. Literary work includes the code which was made to make the game and as for Audiovisual, this is basically the art and sound used within the game. This can be copyrighted although if you add additional protection, such as if your game had a license, and it can be justified for example if you have a company mascot for example Nintendo has Mario then you are more likely to be protected. Some things cannot be copyrighted for example you cannot copyright the idea for a fishing game such as the rod catching the fish otherwise there wouldn’t be any other fishing game available for people to create.
If you are to use anybody else’s content within your own video game then I would recommend contacting the owner of the original material otherwise you will be putting your game and yourself at risk of being taken to court. The same goes with using iconic figures, such as sports figures or pop idols because they may be copyrighted because they might be exploited otherwise. This also goes with anything that an individual may say or do, you can’t use this to support your product in a way which may feel as if that individual is giving an opinion which is associated with your product. You should feel free to create a game but it is important to not to copy another individuals game as such for example you are free to make an RPG game but it would be breaking copyright laws if you were to recreate The Sims with a few different tweaks.
Copyright is an automated right, the moment that the work is produced then that’s when it applies. The work must have taken some skill and effort and must also consider itself as original for it to apply. If you create that work in your own home then the work is considered yours but if you were to create the work because your employer told you too then legally the work is theirs. In regards to freelance work, the works created will belong to the author unless stated otherwise in a contract for service. You must never copy, rent, lend, perform, broadcast or adapt any work without the consent of the owner. You must also respect that the owner has legal rights to be known as the author and the right to object to unfair treatment.
The duration of the copyright would vary depending on the works but typically between 25-70 years after the work was published or the author had died. In regards to literacy, dramatic, musical or artistic works then the duration of the copyright ends when the author of the work dies unless it was made public then it would be 70 years from the day it was made public. For sound recordings and broadcasts then this is from 50 years starting from when the work was created or 50 years from when this was made public.