At what point is your app "copyrighted"?

06-30-2014, 10:31 AM
#1
At what point is your app "copyrighted"?

Hey guys.

So I'm curious to know at what point your app idea becomes a copyright product to you.

I understand that an "idea" itself cannot be copyright, but what about when it becomes more than an idea. Understandably, when an app is present on the app store it is clear that it has already been done. Presumably if one were to copy the same idea and just rebrand it, the original developers of the app could do something about it.

However what about when an app begins development? For example if a developer were to create a website demonstrating what the app will be, a couple of screenshots of production, a name and theme, etc. Could anyone take the idea and attempt to put it on the app store before the original developer does and then claim ownership over the idea?

Likewise, if a developer makes a web service, and this service is turned into an app before the original developer of the web service transfers it over, what happens here?

Thanks guys
06-30-2014, 01:22 PM
#2
Your work is copyrighted the moment you create it. The moment you write something, you own the copyright on it. The moment you make an image, you own the copyright on it.

However, you are correct that ideas are not copyrightable. People are free to use ideas however they wish. They can't steal your images or your words or your code, but it's fair to take your ideas.

You don't have to do anything special to own a copyright on your work, but if you register your copyright with the government you are given some added protections... Chiefly minimum damages if someone infringes on your work.

I am the Glorkian Warrior

06-30-2014, 01:53 PM
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glorkbot View Post
Your work is copyrighted the moment you create it. The moment you write something, you own the copyright on it. The moment you make an image, you own the copyright on it.

However, you are correct that ideas are not copyrightable. People are free to use ideas however they wish. They can't steal your images or your words or your code, but it's fair to take your ideas.

You don't have to do anything special to own a copyright on your work, but if you register your copyright with the government you are given some added protections... Chiefly minimum damages if someone infringes on your work.
That makes sense.

So let's say I've written some program code that isn't quite finished yet, but has certainly started development.

Is it safe for me to publish a website on the internet to begin marketing/promotion for the app? Or if I were to do this do I still run the risk of somebody being able to steal the concept of the app and create it themselves before I've development of mine.

Thanks
06-30-2014, 02:17 PM
#4
Define "safe". People can still use your idea to inspire them, however the assets and text are protected.

EG: If your game is a never-before-done match 3/FPS Shooter combination game, it might be safer to keep it closer to your chest. If however, your game is a tiny wings clone, or just another match three, then you needn't worry about your mechanics being cloned. Regardless, there are 1000 other ideas already posted to be taken, many of which are proven to be successful.

Also: the most dangerous thing any indie game deals with is falling into obscurity. My advise: Get the word out as soon as you have something good to show!

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06-30-2014, 04:20 PM
#5
I agree with the it isn't worth keeping it close to your chest. Your biggest problem will be people finding out about it, you need to do everything you can to tell people even if it comes with a risk of someone copying. If you are indie usually even if someone breaks your copyright it is normally too hard and costly to enforce it.

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06-30-2014, 06:59 PM
#6
I find that the inexperienced are always afraid someone is going to steal their ideas. Often they end up paralyzed with fear and never make anything. The truth is probably no one will care about your idea at all. (There might even be ten other guys out there right now with the same ideas you have.)

You should do everything you can to show the world how awesome you are, not hide away in fear.

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07-01-2014, 12:11 AM
#7
Joined: Sep 2013
Location: Auckland
Posts: 115
You can't really protect much on the App store. The best you are ever going to get is Apple taking down the other app if it is too similar to yours. No one is going to fight a legal battle over some small app, the cost will just be way more than the app will probably ever make, and the person that cloned it just isn't going to have that much money even if you do win.

Basically just don't worry about it getting stolen. People only want to steal an app if it is going to be worth it for them to make it, so generally it needs to be a bit of a success first. The security you have is in the community you control, not really the game itself. If you have the ability to easily market your game to millions of people then it doesn't really matter what you make, it will always sell better than someone who is simply depending on the app store to get it out there. So the key thing is to build a community on social media, email lists, cross promotion in your other games, etc. That is what makes a game successful.
07-01-2014, 03:08 PM
#8
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Wellington
Posts: 751
You can't copyright an "idea", only an individual expression of an idea.

For example, say you create the first game about a... flappy bird with one touch controls that drive your bird upwards temporarily in order to fly through a series of approaching gaps (well, you get the point).

People would be unable to use your artwork, sound, music, icon, app name, text, reverse engineered source code, data files etc (or at least they could be legally challenged if they did so).

However, it is not illegal to create a game which is incredibly similar using more or less the same controls as long as they create their game without using any of your materials. While "cloning" might be considered a blight on the App Store, it is not illegal for the most part.


In order to protect the very core of the idea, you'd have to register a patent on the mechanics and controls. It would be necessary to demonstrate that these are novel, it would be expensive to do, and then you'd have to have the resources to defend that patent.
07-05-2014, 05:32 PM
#9
Joined: Dec 2012
Location: La Habra Hights, California
Posts: 55
Hi Blue145,

I totally agree with what others have said here already. It's a money game, meaning that with a powerful legal force behind you, you can in fact protect an abstract intellectual property, since law is malleable, not truly rigid the ay most people think of it. But in cases like this one there simply is nothing to "protect" the smaller players from being leached off of.

All I wanted to reiterate here is the "posture" of a creative team or individual. A defensive posture/mindset will keep you focused on comparisons and lateral strategies. Whereas taking on an empowered, proactive posture will let you pour all that energy into creating something substantial. If you've invested good time and effort into making something as original and as uniquely "you" as possible, chances are that anyone who copies you will not bother spending the same amount of time on it, and they'll only be able to steal a portion of your thunder.

My advice to artists, programmers, writers, and anyone who creates anything, is to make it SO unique that it becomes like your fingerprint. Let them try to grow a copy of my finger! That would be sort of a miracle, and also sort of gross! Eew!

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07-05-2014, 07:22 PM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlindAlbino View Post
Hi Blue145,

I totally agree with what others have said here already. It's a money game, meaning that with a powerful legal force behind you, you can in fact protect an abstract intellectual property, since law is malleable, not truly rigid the ay most people think of it. But in cases like this one there simply is nothing to "protect" the smaller players from being leached off of.

All I wanted to reiterate here is the "posture" of a creative team or individual. A defensive posture/mindset will keep you focused on comparisons and lateral strategies. Whereas taking on an empowered, proactive posture will let you pour all that energy into creating something substantial. If you've invested good time and effort into making something as original and as uniquely "you" as possible, chances are that anyone who copies you will not bother spending the same amount of time on it, and they'll only be able to steal a portion of your thunder.

My advice to artists, programmers, writers, and anyone who creates anything, is to make it SO unique that it becomes like your fingerprint. Let them try to grow a copy of my finger! That would be sort of a miracle, and also sort of gross! Eew!
That's a really good message. Thank you very much, and kudos to you. <3