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Subject: Licensing Question: Artwork and all. rss

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Enon Sci
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A buddy of mine just started a game company and was curious about how one would go about releasing an OOP game, complete with original artwork.

The game?

Modern Art.

The version?

Mike Doyle's excellently crafted approach which can be seen here:

http://mdoyle.blogspot.com/2006/11/modern-art-released.html

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John "Omega" Williams
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If you didnt get permission to reprint the game then No. you cant. Art, backgrounds story, whattever is all protected.

You can adapt the mechanics. But the game itself as a whole is protected and the art is especially protected. A year or two ago a company was caught stealing art from artists around the world and reusing it in their games. Then was discovered they were selling older games with little more than the titles and names changed. They were pretty much closed down and are mostly DOA now.

If you can get permission then fine. If not. Then DONT!
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Brook Gentlestream
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Even if you got permission from the game designer and artist, and there are no exclusive rights held by anyone else, I'm not even sure releasing the game would be a good idea since Modern Art is currently being sold in stores by another publisher (albeit with different artwork). Why would stores want to buy two versions of the same game?

It seems like its more trouble than it would be worth.

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John "Omega" Williams
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lordrahvin wrote:
Even if you got permission from the game designer and artist, and there are no exclusive rights held by anyone else, I'm not even sure releasing the game would be a good idea since Modern Art is currently being sold in stores by another publisher (albeit with different artwork). Why would stores want to buy two versions of the same game?

It seems like its more trouble than it would be worth.



er... yeah... thats not very OOP then...
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Erik
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The version you speak of that is currently selling is not the original game, but a version with different art AND different rules. It is missing the core bidding system that made the game fun for many players.

The original game is indeed out of print from further research, although versions have been printed as recently as 2009 in languages other than English. Sadly though if it were reprinted now it would most likely have to go under another name, like "Classic Modern Art" which sounds a bit silly, especially for new players who don't realize there are multiple versions.
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Brook Gentlestream
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I advise against this. There are already two versions of this game at my local hobby store, the Mayfair Games version and the Gryphon Games card game. I seriously doubt trying to release a third is the best way to start up a new game publishing company.


But if you really want to, your best course of action is to get in touch with Reiner Knizia to see what rights he still holds (and can sell you) and what rights he has already (permanently or temporarily) sold to other publishers. Quite a few other publishers have had their hand in this pot already, including the original publisher of this OOP version who may still hold rights, so expect to have to get copies of several contracts and show them to a lawyer to get a firm understanding of what rights you may still purchase for yourself and which rights you will have to purchase from other publishers.

The original publisher likely still holds rights of the original artwork, but after a certain amount of time they may have reverted back to the original artist. Again, it will help to see a copy of that contract, and both parties should still have one.

If the artwork has reverted, it will be easy to purchase rights from the artist, however since he knows you want that specific artwork and only he can provide it, you may be charged some high prices, depending on your negotiating skills.
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James Hutchings
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Anarchosyn wrote:
A buddy of mine just started a game company and was curious about how one would go about releasing an OOP game, complete with original artwork.


Is there a significant group of people nostalgic for this particular artwork?
 
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Enon Sci
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Omega2064 wrote:
If you didnt get permission to reprint the game then No. you cant. Art, backgrounds story, whattever is all protected.

You can adapt the mechanics. But the game itself as a whole is protected and the art is especially protected. A year or two ago a company was caught stealing art from artists around the world and reusing it in their games. Then was discovered they were selling older games with little more than the titles and names changed. They were pretty much closed down and are mostly DOA now.

If you can get permission then fine. If not. Then DONT!


Yeah.. you see, my question was framed with the implication we weren't copyright infringers looking for an easy mark. In fact, the focus of this inquiry was to ascertain the steps to pursue a license on legal grounds. That was, and still is, the central point of the post.

apeloverage wrote:
Anarchosyn wrote:
A buddy of mine just started a game company and was curious about how one would go about releasing an OOP game, complete with original artwork.


Is there a significant group of people nostalgic for this particular artwork?


The version that my friend would like to reprint (linked above in the original post) wasn't widely distributed and has exponentially better graphic design than any versions ever released in Western countries.

But if you're curious why the impulse arose at all, despite what lordrahvin says above, Classic Modern Art isn't available at reasonable prices (are those used copies for sale in your hobby shop, lordrahvin?). If you look on its geek page (here) you'll see it's currently selling for over twice it's retail cost. So, my friend would like to make it widely available again, and if one is to resurrect a game from the dead, why not resurrect the best looking copy (especially since that copy was, again, never widely released in Western countries).
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Brook Gentlestream
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Anarchosyn wrote:
and if one is to resurrect a game from the dead, why not resurrect the best looking copy (especially since that copy was, again, never widely released in Western countries).


1) The game's not dead. In Western countries, it's released by Mayfair Games. There's also a card game by Gryphon Games call Modern Art The Card Game. Neither of these have the artwork you are talking about, so maybe in your opinion they are not the best looking copy, but they are still alive and kicking. Did you plan to publish this in some geographic area where these are not sold?

2) When a publisher resurrects a game, its usually easier to apply all new original art and components rather than track down the original artist and buy his rights to the existing art, hoping he may still have copies lying around somewhere in digital format. You might be able to get away with having another artist reproduce something similiar from scratch using the old cards as a guideline, but you would still want the original artists permission to do so. That solution may work out to be cheaper and allow you to make changes, should you later decide to do so.


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Erik
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Mayfair does not have copies for sale, and the listing itself is set to hidden under their section of Archived Games, so I would lean towards that being OOP and just on their site as a historical document. That isn't to say that they don't still hold the rights, as they might, but its not an actively published game by them.

The only versions on the market right now are Master's Gallery and Modern Art The Card Game, which are technically the exact same game on a rules level. The art may be different but they are the same game and neither feature the bidding system of the original.
 
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Brad Talton
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When a company licenses a game, it licenses the right to print and sell that game until a certain date. Even if Mayfair no longer has copies in stock or does not intend to reprint or sell, they may still possess exclusive rights lasting until 2016 or beyond.

The best place to start is to contact the current/past publishers and inquire with them if they still hold rights, if they can sell you the rights, and whether they would be interested in doing so. If the rights no longer belong to the publisher, then you'll want to ask the designer to sign a license with you.

Beyond this, you'll want to guarantee a minimum print run, have some market and demographic information available, and have all the printing funds already sitting in your account. The designer will probably expect an up-front retainer constituting about 20% or more of what you expect to pay him over the life of your license as well.

Of course, you could just open submissions and get 100 prototypes from designers on BGG within weeks, and start with your own original game that you could hold rights to forever. It's up to you--some companies specialize in reprints, but that's a market with specifically limited potential, since there are only so many classic games worth mentioning.

Best of luck with the business!
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John "Omega" Williams
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Anarchosyn wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
If you didnt get permission to reprint the game then No. you cant. Art, backgrounds story, whattever is all protected.

You can adapt the mechanics. But the game itself as a whole is protected and the art is especially protected. A year or two ago a company was caught stealing art from artists around the world and reusing it in their games. Then was discovered they were selling older games with little more than the titles and names changed. They were pretty much closed down and are mostly DOA now.

If you can get permission then fine. If not. Then DONT!


Yeah.. you see, my question was framed with the implication we weren't copyright infringers looking for an easy mark. In fact, the focus of this inquiry was to ascertain the steps to pursue a license on legal grounds. That was, and still is, the central point of the post.


First step is the easiest, AND hardest. Determine and contact whomever currently holds the rights to the game.
If the game is allready being licensed out then your chances are not very good. If its no longer leased out to another company then you might get lucky.

Everything else is dependent on the success or fail of that first step.

Assuming success then the next step is contacting the original designer and making sure the company has the rights to hand off his or her game to someone else. After the problems recently between Stronghold and FFG and Hasbro over who really has the rights to a set of games. This is something that must be checked.

Assuming the above two are a success then the next step may be messy. You will have to contact the individual artists and get permissions to re-use their art. Do NOT just assume the parent company has rights to that art that they can hand off to another. Get out there and get the individual permissions wherever possible.

Clear all that and its merely a matter of finding a printer and getting the funds for both the license and the printing fees. Then the task of finding retailers, advertising, warehousing, etc.

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