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Subject: Release forms rss

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Colin Moore
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So, I just signed a release form in order to get a (large) publisher to look at a submission. I was struck that other publishers had looked at my games and never asked me to sign a release.
The terms of this particular release were essentially what one might expect: I can't sue them if they have a similar game in the works.
What do you folks think of release forms? How is this "similar game in the works" thing enforced? What recourse do independent designers have if their submitted work is used by a company without compensation or credit. How can either party prove that a game was in the works at any particular time?
 
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Gil Hova
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This is standard for a large publisher. If they happen to be working on a game that's similar to yours when you show them, they need a way to keep themselves from getting sued.

Will your idea get stolen? A LOT of people have written about this, myself included. The bottom line is that there's so much overhead in this business, and it takes so much work to get an idea into a completed game, that stealing game ideas is useless.

Some articles...

Tom Jolly: http://www.leagueofgamemakers.com/those-bastards-stole-my-ga...
Daniel Solis: http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/what-if-someone-...
And my own... http://gil.hova.net/2014/05/27/some-thoughts-for-designers/
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Nick Hayes
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Release forms are a way to protect both the designer and the company.

The publisher can prove that they have been working on a similar game by providing dated design docs that predate your submission.

It is much easier and cheaper for a company to pay the designer for their work than to try and steal their idea. If a company steals an idea, they could end up being saddled with huge court costs, receive the scorn of their peers, and never be able to attract outside designers ever again.
 
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Nat Levan
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I'm still new and learning this myself, but here's what I've observed.

For most publishers it's nothing to worry about. For the big ones, it just covers them legally, to protect their own IP rights, without implying they are planning to steal your game. (E.g. if you submit a game about a certain theme and they already have a similarly themed game coming out, or you have some combination of mechanics that they are already using in an unannounced game.)

In rare cases, (it would typically be a very small publisher with no or poor reputation) it could potentially be used to steal your idea, but even so, it probably does more to cover you in court, by proving you sent them a copy, in case they do try to steal it. Even if they do manage to steal it, it's not worth the court costs to fight it.

Most independent publishing is very personal, so almost nobody in the industry wants to screw over a designer or a publisher like this. And if it does, word travels fast in a tiny industry.
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Colin Moore
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Yeah, I get it, guys. I signed the release, as I said.

Why do some companies insist on release forms and not others? Is it just a function of the size of the company? A function of different attitudes,, such as more legalistic vs. more laid-back business styles? Is it just because larger companies tend to have an in-house legal staff? I've gone through submission processes with several mid-range publishers before this and none of them required a release (Z-man, AEG, Game Salute). Don't those companies have legal council?

Also, how exactly do release forms protect designers. They are insisted on by the publisher, and as far as I can tell are intended to protect the publisher. In what sense are we protected?



 
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Colin Moore
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IngredientX wrote:

Will your idea get stolen?


It's actually a game design, not an idea. And I'm not particularly worried that the company is going to steal my design. I'm just curious about the practice of release forms and their possible implications as the industry continues to grow.
 
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Donald Brown
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The why some do and others don't may be as simple as which companies have had to deal with someone claiming an idea was stolen.

The protection for you is that you have a written document saying you're talking, given them info, with a date. And while it protects them if they're working on a game, it protects you from them saying "This is interesting, let's get started on something we want to do". The protection is stronger for them than you, but you're on record.
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