If a copyright (IP) holder (or rather usually their lawyer) never sends a "Cease and Desist" order and~or nor takes you to court, then you can use their IP (intellectual property) all you want (aka: if you're not punished for a crime, then it's not a crime; if no one stops you, then you can do whatever you want; if rules aren't enforced, then there are no rules; etc etc etc)
Pyrceval wrote:I was curious about copyrighted material in general being used in Quest games, specifically I noticed there was a quest game based on another games world and such in here. Was just wondering after reading the thing for quest rules that no copyrighted material was allowed to be used, but there it is right on the first page.
Anonynn wrote:Basically, you can completely base your game off of someone else's creation using Quest or any other venue as long as you aren't selling it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_ ... le_sharing
Although downloading or other private copying is sometimes permitted, public distribution – by uploading or otherwise offering to share copyright-protected content – remains illegal in most, if not all countries.
from link above wrote:Times When It May Be OK to Use a Similar or Identical Name
There are a few situations in which it may be okay to use a name that is already in existence -- just be sure that the name your are using is not famous! For example, if the name that you want to use is already being used by another company, but the other company sells a drastically different product than you plan on selling, then you may be able to move forward with using your chosen name. In addition, geographic location can be another factor that can let you use an identical name. If the business that already has your name is far away and serves only a small population, this makes it safer for you to use the name.
The key question that you have to answer is, "is it likely that a customer would be confused about the origins of the product or service if I used the same, or a similar name." For example, suppose that a business called "X-Y-Z" already exists and sells candy in Oregon. If you want to open a business called "X-Y-Z" that repaired computers, it would probably be pretty safe. If you wanted to open your business in Florida, it would be even safer.
I realize that the OP may not read this, but anyway...
Keep in mind that Copyright law specifics do vary from country to country, though most countries have some sort of international mutual agreement to respect foreign Copyrights.
With that said, no, you can NOT legally just do whatever you wish with other people's ideas and share them. There are limits, even if you don't do it for profit or take a substantial financial loss. Consider for a moment, you privately make a low-budget film on your own original idea. You spend one month's wage to make it. You make it available to download for US$5. Someone willingly pays the cost to download it, then anonymously makes it available to download for free. Your movie gets downloaded twenty thousand times from the free site and visits to your link stops after about one hundred downloads. Now, I ask you, would it be fair that there be no penalty to the person who uploaded it if they actually paid to get it and don't make any profit from it? Of course not!
Now you can freely use anything that you are licensed to use, that is in public domain, or you outright own. Outside of those freedoms, you might cut off someone from making a profit, and that can get you into trouble. Still, there are limits for public domain. You can do your own version of Snow White as you wish, because it is in public domain. But you can not mimic the Disney version or use any of the names Disney gave to the dwarfs, because the Disney rendition is Copyrighted and the dwarfs are Trademarked.
If you what you are doing is a parody of another work, you can write fairly freely (at least in the U.S.), but even then you have to be careful that you are not actually reproducing the original work. An example of a clear parody is the 1987 movie Spaceballs.
And no, you can't create your version of Spaceballs, because it is Copyrighted. Any new work may be given its own separate Copyright status, even if it is a parody or a variant of something in public domain. In the U.S., any creative work is automatically protected by Copyright the moment it is created. This covers all forms of media. Works technically do not have to be published or filed. This even helps to protect a work in progress. However, works that have not been filed with the Copyright Office are extremely hard to protect in court, especially when done by an individual or small group.
I seem to recall one time when two different songs with the same name were in the then current Top 10. This happened because titles are not protected. And the same goes for characters. Generally speaking, character names and the title of creative works are up for grabs. If you find some small-time book with a protagonist with a name you like, you can make a protagonist by the same name in your work too. However, this potentially ventures into Trademark violations, which are similar to Copyright. If you use a character name that has a Trademark or a title that has one (eg. Luke Skywalker and Star Wars), then you can get yourself into real financial trouble there too. Therefore whether or not you can recycle a name or title that someone else has used all depends on whether it has been Trademarked. Corporations do tend to turn a blind eye to works that are clearly fan fiction, but they are well within their right to curtail this behavior.
Whether you are talking about a photo, sound file, movie, TV show, book, play, song (written or recorded), painting, poem, video game, and so on, if it has a Copyright reserved, you should get the owner's permission before use if you wish to stay on the proper side of the law.
So no, it is not legal to "borrow" from anything that is protected by Copyright (or Trademark), even if you do not profit from it or suffer loss. The exact amount of money involved is immaterial. It's the concept, that by using someone else's ideas, you are potentially PREVENTING profit for the Copyright owner.