Since this is not a commercial venture, is it fine to use any image or sound one has downloaded off the internet, without worrying about copyright issues?

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)

as the above states, the "commerciality" is just one aspect of it, which has NOTHING to do with whether you can use it or not, as it is THEIR property, not yours. They (or you) decide in how or who can or can't use THEIR (or your) property.


the law protects property, both your own property and others' property. One's property is theirs, it's that simple, thus, a person needs permission in order to use someone else's property.

Property is a wonderful thing, especially the having the property of your own body. Property Rights is what makes, rape and murder, crimes, as they're trespassing and~or vandalizing your property: your body. If you don't own your body, then I can legally stab a knife or male genitilia into your body, as it doesn't belong to you, it belongs to everyone, we can do whatever we want with it. (This is very advanced~deep jurisprudence, aka: legal theory)

If there is any doubt, get your sounds from and images from (or other obviously non-copyrighted sites like clipart - there are lots of options). There are tons out there. And I never use licensed music - I hate it when people use or steal music.

Like Xan says, your only real safe bet is to get the images and sounds from places that specifically state they're free to use.

I used to be quite casual about using other people's images, until enough people on various forums pointed out how wrong it was. Put yourself in the artist's/owner's shoes. You spend hours, maybe days creating a work of art, only to see it being used by someone else who didn't so much as credit you, let alone ask for permission.


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)

I'm not sure if that's meant to be a joke or not. If I murder someone and nobody finds out - or if the murder is discovered, but they never figure out it was me - it's still a crime.

(And I'll probably regret taking the bait, but people have been posting odd things lately.)

If you missed it in my other thread... perhaps I should have just added to this one...

For great game music that is usable for free as long as you credit it within your game:

For great free sound effects (which you should still credit):

Are midi files copyrighted since all it is computer generated sounds?


Make of this what you will...

Application to MIDI Audio Files

"A MIDI audio file could be described as a fixation, by way of encoding, of a series of sounds perceivable through the use of compatible hardware or software. It is likely then that a court would accept a MIDI to be a copyrightable sound file. Notably, some courts have previously treated MIDIs as digital sound recordings.[14] MIDI's status as a fixation of sounds for copyright purposes is also evidenced in part by the Copyright Office's acceptance of .midi as an acceptable audio file type for registration of a musical work.[15] (We are in the process of verifying a 1996 press release from the MIDI Manufacturers Association stating that the Copyright Office had verified MIDI's “status as a work of authorship copyrightable as a sound recording.”[16])

If a MIDI is a fixed work of authorship, the primary question is one of originality when creating a sound recording of a public domain musical work. For example, it is arguably questionable whether the use of software alone to translate a musical score into a MIDI file without any input or creative decisions (e.g. instrument types as opposed to file names) would contain more than a trivial amount of originality. A court could conceivably find such an automatically generated recording not a protected derivative work. On the other hand, a manually encoded MIDI or a captured performance in which the creator chooses instruments, their relative volumes, their pitches, and/or the timing of the composition could arguably succeed at overcoming the originality threshold. If that occurs, the MIDI would be a copyright protected derivative sound recording. In that case the MIDI creator would have exclusive rights to make edited copies of their own record, to use their record as a soundtrack, or to authorize someone else to do so.[17]"

From - ... pyright.3F

makes sense...

if one can use a guitar to make various sounds (music) as their property, then so too with a computer, as both a computer and a guitar are instruments producing sounds ;)

though... this line of logic seems to suggest that ANYTHING~EVERYTHING can be one's property (funny thought: a kid getting copyrighted his fart sounds as music from using his hand in armpit that all we did as kids)... so meh

I found this article helpful, as a basis for understanding what can and can't be copyrighted: ... opyrighted

It explains what 'fixation' means in a legal context, which helped me understand the example in XanMag's post about MIDI files, as well as mentioning that the expression of an idea has to be original in order to be copyrighted. It seems to answer at least some of the questions here, and also has brief sections on trademarks and patent law, which were interesting to read.

I asked for permission for a cover photo for X1 that I found on Google. Out of curiosity mostly, but also respect, I tracked down the author of the photo and sent an email explaining the scenario and that I would give in game credit. Her response was "You may purchase 'personal' digital download for these website without watermark or logo."

My interpretation is, I'm allowed to use it without paying but the author was asking in her business-like way for $5. meh. I could give her $5. I could just use it and not pay. But I'll probably just find a new picture I know is free to use. Just an FYI.

I've mentioned it before, if you're set on using a picture you know you have permission for and don't mind spending a dollar or two, there's a lot of high quality work at stock image sites, and it removes the hassle of tracking down or dealing with the artists directly. Fotolia is one that I've used, and most of what's there works out to just $1 each.

a bit off-topic (not about specifically media copyright), but it's an interesting read: ... tection%22

if anyone is interested, it does get into the more technical issues of programming and computer hardware engineering, but (I think as I can't really be a good judge as I'm now learning to program) it does a pretty good job in talking about it in layman's terms. But the bottom half gets into game making.

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.

I'll explain it ^_^

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. If you try to sell it, you violate that person's property and the law, which means you can be sued for a large amount of money if someone finds out. If you use someone else's world, music, character's, plot, even their images --- it's perfectly okay, until you try selling it as yours, or your idea whether it's on Quest or not. With that said, if you have an original idea, or game and use Quest to present it, you can sell it all you want because Quest is a free-license program.

Basically, copyright protects anyone and everyone's work the moment it hits the internet whether on a blog, some other kind of website you've designed yourself, or one you just happen to use. It's your intellectual property the moment you hit "publish" as long as its your idea and your original work. If it isn't, then you are committing copyright infringement and can be sued. It's definitely a fine line that you should be very careful of. Always get permission and save that permission if you plan to use someone else's photos, ideas, or whatever else if you aren't sure. Here are some websites to check out. - CPG Grey talks about Copyright here. ... asics.html

Technically, it's a copyright violation even if you don't profit from it. The idea of copyright is that the original creator of intellectual property has the "right" to control how the work is "copied". Period. While you might not be sued or have them come after you if you don't rise up enough for them to see or notice, it is still a violation unless you have permission. And you can still have to pay restitution even if you don't profit - what matters as well is any perceived *loss* by the creating party.

That's why youtube videos can be pulled even if it's just a slideshow that happens to have background music a company doesn't want distributed as such.

Not to mention that it's just not right. If you create a character or story, you get to say how it makes its way in the world or what happens to that "property". It's just courtesy to not try to take that right away from someone else by distributing it against their expressed wishes.

(And, yes, there is all sorts of fan fiction. That is perhaps tolerated as it helps drive the fan base, but it's not legal unless the copyright holder allows it, regardless of how much it's done. Fair use does not include the creation of a new work based on an existing one except for limited situations, like parody.)

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.

If the game uses copyrighted material (not just a somewhat-similar concept), hopefully the person who made the game got permission. If not, then that seems like a violation of Quest's rules, not to mention the law. You could ask Alex about it.

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.

It's possible to break the law even without selling anything. From the "Legality of uploading" section on Wikipedia's "Copyright infringement" page:

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. ... le_sharing

think of it this way:

if I steal your car (property), it's a crime (IP plagarism is theft of one's property, just as stealing a car is theft of one's property, just as kidnapping is theft of that person's property of their own body), regardless of whether I drive it every day or it just sits parked for years collecting dust in my garage.


but, it's not actually that simple (as the above)... digressing into the complexity of law...

(what actually makes rape or stabbing someone to death/injury/ec with a blade/etc, a crime, is "breaking and entering: aka without permission", as your body is your property, just as if I invade/enter/"break and enter" into someone's house without their permission. Also, this applies to being, forced: without your permission, to ingest a pill or be impaled by a needle, by a doctor/cop/etc, the doctor/cop/etc is commiting the crime of "breaking and entering". Whether it's "breaking and entering" in the stabbing of a knife into someone, or a male's genitilia into a female's genitilia/anus/mouth/etc, or a doctor's pill going into/down your mouth/throat/etc or needle into your body, it's all the same FELONY CRIME, as they don't have your permission to enter your property, to enter the property of your body without your pemission. Private Property is an absolutely truly wonderful and very necessary thing and concept! Private Property is the basic of all/most distinctions of what is and isn't a crime, and some of the most serious crimes: rape, murder/attempted_murder via stabbing someone to death/injury, forced to take pills or stabbed iwth needles by a dcotor/cop/etc, and etc etc etc heinous felony crimes)

however, there actually is an area in the law (at least the U.S. law anyways), as law is very complex (on purpose to take advantage of the people), let's say that there's a business, which has a trademark symbol (their property/IP) that is solely for/in the U.S. and it has no plans on expanding to the world, it actually can be legal for someone to create a totally different business, and use the same trade mark symbol, as they are clearly two different CLEARLY SEPARATED businesses with no possibility of mistaking one for the other, and thus no crime/illegality occurs. It doesn't have to be between countries, it can be west coast vs east coast in the U.S., and it can even be two businesses in the same area too, if they're that obviously different, it can be legal. So, it's not actually automatically a crime, but few are aware of this aspect of the law concerning one's property/IP, and it's probably rarely used/allowed by judges, but whatever, it is there in the (U.S. anyways) law.

I can't yet find a legal resource yet about it (though there's the trademark links at the bottom of this post that briefly explain it), but here's a link on it: ... ility.html (scroll down to the ~ 'times when it's okay to use', or see excerp below):

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.


also, anyone in IP/media/entertainment, (should) knows that if you take and alter someone else's work enough and create your own unique content in it, then that entire work of yours (using/plagarizing theirs and your own unique content), is your own unique work/property/IP, and is not plagarism/theft.


again, this is a really interesting link to read (though it is very compute/programming technical): ... tection%22


and here's another really good read, on what's actually NOT protected under the free speech (1st) ammendment (1/10 ammendments = the bill of rights), in the US of course:

(not're not merely just yelling "fire" in a crowded building)

people are really ignorant of this stuff, everyone should really read this link above... sighs (sorry, just sad at how stupid modern people are becoming more and more).


here's about trademarks: ... n/tm.htm#6 ... n/tm.htm#7 ... /tm.htm#10

it's short compared to the other link's verbose works, lol.

But what about following a different way?

I am designing a Quest game I plan publishing and distributing for free. Because of this very thread, I gave up using pictures I gathered on Internet. I was going to use these pictures to ilustrate characters,places and objects.

But what if instead of placing the images in the game, I place external links? I suppose I would not be breaking any law because I am refering to something the author made public,in the very way he/she made public.

just because someone puts a pic out publically online, doesn't mean that he/she has actually given permission for people to use it beyond their own private use of enjoying the pic on their computer in their room, laughs. For example, everything you type in a post is YOUR thoughts/quote/work (same as what you write in a book), if people want to use it, they have to credit/reference/quote you, and even then that can be disallowed too, by expressly not giving permission to even let someone quote/credit your IP (your words/thoughts/ideas). Sites of course own the posts, but not the content on them, that belongs to the person who posted.

there are sites that have legally "given permission for public use / pro bono" of pics/music/etc, if you want to be safe. Anything else though, isn't legally safe, even if it is publically made available.


you can of course use whatever you want, and you're fine, until/if/when the owner finds out and that legal 'cease and desist' order comes from a lawyer, lol.

something's only a crime when you get caught/punished for it (when there's negative consequences for your actions). If no one else cares/stops you, you can do whatever you want. I'm not talking about philosophical/theoretical debate of ethics/morality/code of conduct/etc, but pragmaticism of the reality of the actual/real world. If there's no negative consequences, then there's nothing that stops you from doing whatever you want to do.

I am not defending what I said, but I am not sure if I agree with you.

Does sound believable one writing an essay and publishing it on a blog and this essay contains links to "as seen in Monalisa ", placing the appropriate museum link, then making a citation and linking it to a philosophy webpage and then describing an architectural detail and linking to Notre Dame's official site?

Honestly, to me it is pretty much the same. I am just telling someone "hey, the owner of this image and information made it public at this place. "

No one may use links to youtube videos telling about something seen on forum posts because this is technically an IP violation?

That is the core of my question. I believe if it is not possible or illegal, it would fall under some other category or argument, because I am not violating a property. I am telling others where the due author is exposing it. And of course, I am not doing it selling anything, like the game itself.

Proudly Humble

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.

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