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Using photos of books, logos, etc in my app

02-05-2010, 11:20 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 362
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Using photos of books, logos, etc in my app

I'm working on a game that will use photographs of scenes I set up to create a specific feel. Are there any problems with using stuff in the scene, such as a copy of The Hobbit, or a specific brand of laptop, or Ikea furniture, or whatever, in my photograph without permission? I'm in no way trying to sell other people's content, or rip off their design, or anything like that. Just placing the right books and other objects in the scene to set the mood.

I think this is fair use because otherwise the TV news would be breaking copyright laws by filming in front of a McDonalds, and it would be illegal to publish photos and videos (even to facebook and youtube) of anyone wearing brand-name clothing. Can anyone clarify?

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02-06-2010, 12:35 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,242
Just do it. You'll know if you're breaking the law if they sue you

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02-06-2010, 03:30 AM
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 113
I honestly doubt you'd get noticed unless you sold the app in Doodle Jump numbers, but I'd still avoid using conspicuous logos, especially in promotional materials for the game (like itunes screenshots.) I'd try to be creative and just suggest the objects.. You can show a can of Coke with the logo obscured (or partially so) and people will know what it is.

Most likely if a company did notice, you probably wouldn't be sued outright.. But you would probably get a threatening letter and have to take all references to their product out of the app. You never know, they may raise a stink with Apple and get the app pulled as well. It will be a big problem that you don't want to deal with, regardless.

By the way, TV news reports are journalism and as such aren't subject to copyright suits. That reasoning won't cover your game. Look at any other TV show, including reality TV, and see the lengths they go to to blur logos, etc. If you do see one it's probably product placement, or at least they have clearance. And you do need permission to use a storefront.

Last edited by Mormoop; 02-06-2010 at 03:36 AM.
02-07-2010, 04:00 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: California, USA
Posts: 2,143
I actually have fun making my own brand designs in games. I made my own silly brand of beer - "Yeehaw Redneck Lager", my own store fronts - "Used Food Outlet". That's just my take on it though.

I do have one real brand in my upcoming game, but it's a place that I actually work, the owner has offered to help me out with promoting, and they've actually helped me in a few small ways. So I feel good giving them a plug on a road sign.