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So, I have an idea for a game that I would like to make (print and play). Obviously, I would like to make it look as nice as possible, but I am not the greatest artist. Is there a place I can download copyright free images (not sure if I am using the right terminology there, but I'm sure you know what I mean)?
I want to make this game about a known IP. Will this be a problem if it is free? I know there are a number of fan made games here on BGG that do this same thing. Like Aliens: This Time It's War, for instance. So, it looks like it's okay?
Also, there is a question about mechanics. My game will follow some mechanics of other popular games here on BGG. It is my understanding that you cannot copyright a mechanic. Is that right?
I would like to suggest in my Print and Play game that users use components from a couple games they might already own. Is that okay? Can I tell people which game to take which component or do I have to be vague?
Free or not, using someone else's IP without their permission is copyright infringement. Every fangame can be shut down without question but most companies don't care if you're not profiting off it. That still doesn't make it okay, though, and if you get a C&D then you have no legal way of resisting.
You can't copyright mechanics, only the expression of said mechanics (unless the mechanic is patented like Magic's tapping). If I made a game about building junker spaceships by grabbing tiles from the center of the table it's okay. If I said the tiles were made from sewer parts and you're commissioned to deliver these parts to distant planets, I would probably have a serious issue on my hands.
1: You cannot copyright game mechanics, or even design. The only thing you can copyright is a complete creative work in a specific form. This generally means "the rules". If you can say the same thing in a different way, it's legit. "Roll 1d20+5" vs "Add 5 to the roll of a 20 sided die" Exact same thing, but for copyright they are completely different.
2: What you really want is "royalty free images". Finding public domain material is hard and limited. "Royalty free" means "It's copyrighted, but we legally allow you to use it without paying".
3: Basing it on an existing IP is tricky. As a fan-work, you can typically fly under the radar, especially if no money is involved. However, even free fan projects can face legal action.
Honestly, if you can do it without directly ripping off the IP, then do it. The only reason to make a game of a specific IP is to cash in on fans of the IP. Pretty much every IP-based game can easily be remade as "original" simply by changing the art and replacing some words.
4: Recommending that people use specific components from specific games is 100% legit and legal. Nothing is being copied, it's only a suggestion, and you can always refer to things by name (impossible to talk otherwise)