An Indie Guide to Copyright Law

I recently finished writing an article called What an Indie Needs to Know About Copyright.

I wrote it because it still amazes me how many independent game developers do not know about copyright. Either they overestimate what it is that copyright does for them, or they underestimate what it does for other people. The entire purpose of copyright is sometimes confused! What can you do with public domain works? What about fair use? What IS copyright actually protecting?

I don’t pretend that I know everything about copyright law, but I have done a fair amount of research, and I hope I have condensed that knowledge into something useful and easy to read for other indie developers. In the end, there are a few resources you could consult for more details, and of course you should consult a lawyer about anything you aren’t sure about. It’s your business to know, after all, and the expense may be worth it.

I want to thank Keith “Uhfgood” Weatherby II and Kelli Lydon for proof reading and providing some great feedback.

6 comments to An Indie Guide to Copyright Law

  • You didn’t have to actually thank me, I didn’t do much other than read it. But it does demystify copyrights somewhat 🙂

  • True, but knowing that you understood what I wrote was better than publishing something that people wouldn’t understand at all. B-)

  • That was a terrific read. It does make clear just how tangled and misinterpreted copyright law is, especially in the realm of digital creativity. Your piece has inspired me to do much more research on the subject.
    Thank you for taking the time to write this up!

  • Thanks, C. S.!

    I am also hoping to write up something on trademark law in the near future.

  • I’m curious about “renewing” a copyright, an expression used in talking about “It’s a Wonderful Life”, but not explained anywhere in the article that I could see.

  • Alan, you made an excellent point. Copyright used to be for 14 years, renewable for another 14. Then the laws kept changing.

    Renewing copyright isn’t possible for works created after 1978. I’ll update the article with this information.

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