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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessA question about Copyright and Orphan Works
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Indecom
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« on: December 12, 2019, 06:55:26 AM »

Before making any public decisions, I'm looking for as much advice as possible. Before asking, I do plan to go through an attorney once I've determined that what I'm hoping to do is actually viable.

Now to the question at hand. I'm hoping to resurrect an Orphan work, through remaster or reboot, or what have you. This particular orphan work is a video game series from the early 90s who's developer and publisher (both owned by the same entity) went bankrupt. The copyright information for this game is currently unavailable, there are no results for it when searching either trademark or copyright databases. I have communicated with several members of the original development team and have managed to track down the last known holder of the IP, however before I continue I'd love to get some feedback from the community on the subject.

If the copyright information isn't in the copyright database, could I just file for a copyright and begin development on the project and just hope that it goes through, or could that result in legal recourse?

The other potential issue is that the original IP holder is not the most pleasant human being, in fact there are numerous articles written of their shady business doings.

There is still a chance that they don't hold the IP, as they may have been sold when the companies when bankrupt, but I digress. This is a very interesting situation that I would love some tips on!
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TonyLi
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2019, 01:17:14 PM »

Steer clear. It can certainly result in legal recourse. If the IP holder is the way you describe, it almost certainly will, and Murphy's Law dictates it will happen after you've committed the maximum amount of time and money and the project is on the verge of success.
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Indecom
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2019, 05:00:19 PM »

This is a very discouraging response lol. I'm not quite sure which part of my post you're responding to. If I file for copyright and it goes through then they have no standing for legal recourse. If I reach out to them through a lawyer to obtain the rights (if they are in fact still the IP holder) then the chance of legal recourse would be slim to none in favor of compensation.
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TonyLi
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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2019, 06:54:17 AM »

Your lawyer will be the best one to answer whether they could contest your copyright grant and have it overturned.

Inheriting the fan base from existing IP is a definite advantage, but if you weigh the risk with your lawyer you might end up considering if you can change things just enough that it's a unique concept that doesn't infringe on copyrights or trademarks -- like an "inspired by X" concept.
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Indecom
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« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2019, 12:02:09 PM »

Yeah, the "inspired by" route is definitely one that I've added to the list of what to do if this fails. Hahaha
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