Timothy Young
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I think that subject line gets my point across. But for the sake of clarity I spell this out a bit more. If I'm working on a prototype and decide I'd like to use a graphic to make things a little more clear or a little more interesting, is it unethical to go to, say, deviantart.com, find an image I like, save it to my pc and print it out and use it in my prototype?
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Thom Winters
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Not unless you're passing off the work as your own.
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ohgeeze. Be ready for a barrage.
Yes it is stealing someone's work.
Yes you will in all likelihood not get caught.
If your game sells to a publisher, they will replace it anyway.

but if you have ethics:
Most artists would let you use a lowres image for comping on a game free of charge if you ask and place FPO (for position only) over any artwork you use. Credit the artist somewhere, like in the manual, on the off-chance that the publisher might want to use the artist.
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Lee Borkman
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For prototyping? No, not unethical at all. No more unethical than printing out the pictures and sticking them on your bedroom wall.

Now if you try to use the images without permission in a published or distributed game, then we are getting into shadowy territory.

LBB
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Eric Matthews
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Its is marginally unethical. Legally you are likely fine. You're biggest risk is that some of this art accidentally ends up in the final game, or some promotional material, or accidentally included when you sell the prototype for charity years when your game is insanely popular.

Also the bad press.


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Jason
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If this prototype is only going to be seen by you and your close circle of friends or family for playtesting purposes, then I would say it's fine. It's when you start publishing images of this prototype on the web, or using the prototype to pitch the game to a wider audience than that immediate circle.
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Paul DeStefano
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Bjork wrote:
No, not unethical at all. No more unethical than printing out the pictures and sticking them on your bedroom wall.


Which, is, of course, unethical...

Ethics has to do with using what you have a right to. Not whether or not you make profit. If someone sells pictures, and you don't pay and instead just print them out... Well.....

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Ian O'Toole
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It entirely depends on the purpose of the prototype.
If it's to be used in a public place such as a convention, and may be photographed etc. it is entirely unethical.

Less contentious, but still unethical is using others art on a prototype shown to a publisher. The reason being is you are utilising art without permission in the pursuit of a commercial venture.

As an artist I would not be happy at all if I saw a prototype doing the rounds using my art without permission.

Moral of the story: ask for permission. If you don't get it, don't use it.
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Richard
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I'd have no problem with this, but, as with most of life's questions, only you can answer for your actions.
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Geosphere wrote:
Bjork wrote:
No, not unethical at all. No more unethical than printing out the pictures and sticking them on your bedroom wall.


Which, is, of course, unethical...

Ethics has to do with using what you have a right to. Not whether or not you make profit. If someone sells pictures, and you don't pay and instead just print them out... Well.....


Best definition of ethics is that of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Potter Stewart ... "Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do." My Irish grannie thought the same way.

I have that definition in mind anytime I mention that so-and-so or such-and-such a company is lacking in ethics.
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jmzero wrote:
Copyright isn't based on some absolute ethical truth any more than traffic laws are. The only reason making copies of stuff is often unethical for us is it's against our basic (but arbitrary) social contract. In this kind of case it's fairly reasonable to think of the law as defining that social contract, so if our use of an image is legal then that's a solid reason to think it's ethical as well.



Laws are made when people refuse to behave ethically.

A savvy artist will put low-res images online that aren't fit for printing. That way people can enjoy them, but can't use them for "real" print work.
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Lee Borkman
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Geosphere wrote:
Bjork wrote:
No, not unethical at all. No more unethical than printing out the pictures and sticking them on your bedroom wall.


Which, is, of course, unethical...


Which demonstrates that people are weird and/or different ;-)
 
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Winston Smith
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Quote:
No more unethical than printing out the pictures and sticking them on your bedroom wall.


The concept of "fair use" is supposed to describe the range of things you can safely do with other people's content, without being legally required to get their permission. Lazy but useful links:

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

A lot seems to hinge on whether your purpose is commercial, and whether your action hurts the commercial prospects of the originator -- certainly giving away copies of someone else's work would inhibit that person's ability to market it themselves!

I'm not any kind of copyright expert, and suffer egregiously from what the Wikipedia page lists as a "common misunderstaning", that Any use that seems fair is fair use. So I'm not the one to ask for real legal advice. But I can offer a concrete example, and usefully ask: where in this sequence/progression would I be crossing the line legally from the sphere of fair use and into copyright infringement?:


1. I legitimately own a copy of some artwork, say in a game
that's already published.

2. I want to get some practice making templates for cards
for my own game, but I don't have enough time & talent to
make new artwork. So I scan in something from an existing
game and manipulate it in Photoshop, etc., to create, say,
a new custom Dominion card.

3. I print out a single copy of the new card on my printer
at home and admire it in private.

4. I print up a whole deck's worth of the new card at home,
then I invite you over to play Dominion with the new custom
deck.

5. You like the new custom card, so I print up a few more
copies and give them to you.

6. A friend of ours hears about the new custom card, and
we send him the graphics files by e-mail so he can print
up his own.

7. After numerous requests, I decide it's easier just to post
the graphics file on BGG and let others download it.


I'd be curious to get the opinion of anyone who's done prototyping using artwork without explicit permission; up to where along this line do you feel sure that you're on the right side of the law? [Note, I've not done the things on this list myself, so don't send the cops after me; I'm imagining the path that a more energetic designer might follow.]
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Pelle Nilsson
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Just grab some playtest graphics from
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page or http://openclipart.org or http://opengameart.org

Or buy some very old books that are no longer in copyright to scan images from.

Or search the millions of creative commons photos on flickr.

It is not difficult to find nice works of art that do not come with annoying all-rights-reserved-copyright.

Not that I believe copyright is really related to ethics. It is just something to encourage people to create more and it varies very much between times and places. In some countries creating a copy for personal use is explicitly not covered by copyright law at all, so the question of ethics would probably not come up (I know the US is not one of those countries).

Consider that not long ago the copyright in the US only lasted for 28 years. If you use artwork that is 29 years old (ie 1984) would that be more unethical than if your grandparents did that back when it was legal?

Of course going back about 100 years and few countries would have any copyright law at all, or very weak one, or a law that only was about books not graphics anyway. And in the US you used to have a copyright law that did not apply to foreign works. Do anyone think that was motivated somehow by ethics?



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Stew Woods
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Phil of Mars wrote:



Laws are made when people refuse to behave ethically.



I'm falling out of my chair here
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Markus Hagenauer jr.
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Bjork wrote:
For prototyping? No, not unethical at all. No more unethical than printing out the pictures and sticking them on your bedroom wall.

Now if you try to use the images without permission in a published or distributed game, then we are getting into shadowy territory.

LBB


As long as your keep your prototype in your bedroom, I´d agree.
But if you want to show it at a convention, you enter a gray area. And if you give it to a publisher, the artist could even claim you use his work for commercial purpose.
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Ian O'Toole
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There's no claim about it. It's undeniable being used for a commercial venture at that point.
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Timothy Young
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Thanks for the feedback everybody. You've given me some things to think about that I hadn't considered before.
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Johan Haglert
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That's up for you to decide. I would say no. And afaik it's not illegal (may depend on where you are located though.)

Everyone got different standards so I think the question is a bit wrong, but I would had wanted to answer with a simple "no."

I see others have answered in more detail.

As is we out-fish the oceans, cut down rain forests, bomb each others using drones or our self, factory farm animals, burn oil at an amazing rate, mine the ground, dump our waste into the ocean or dig it down into the ground or worse just throw it onto the ground wherever we are, kill of all predators, .. and the question is whatever it's unethical to duplicate information.
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Geosphere wrote:
Bjork wrote:
No, not unethical at all. No more unethical than printing out the pictures and sticking them on your bedroom wall.


Which, is, of course, unethical...

Ethics has to do with using what you have a right to. Not whether or not you make profit. If someone sells pictures, and you don't pay and instead just print them out... Well.....



Bullshit. Ethics is a international social metadesign and independent to what some national lawyers decide.
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lokides wrote:
Phil of Mars wrote:



Laws are made when people refuse to behave ethically.



I'm falling out of my chair here





hee hee
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Basic answer from an illustrator.

For personal prototyping use? Perfectly fine

For playtesting? Also ok.

For PNP public release? Usually at worst a C&D not ok. In general its advised not to. Saves you trouble later.

For sale? Go to prison level not ok.

If you want to use art for a PnP the ask the artist. Really, its that simple. If you cant get ahold of them then look elsewhere.

Artists can be at times violently protective of their art. As has been pointed out before. A year or three ago a publisher started selling games with art that turned out to be stolen from many many artists. Once they found out about it the artists banded together and applied enough pressure via various channels, up to and including having distributors cut the publisher off. That said company is effectively no more.

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Timothy Young
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I've begun the process of looking for stuff that's in the public domain. Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Arthur Rackham are a few artists that should qualify in that regard and that fit (more or less) my game stylistically. I also discovered www.wikipaintings.org, which seems to have a pretty robust library of images, all apparently in the public domain. I'll still try to contact artists on deviantart.com if I end up finding something that really tickles my fancy, but in the meantime it looks like I'll be doing find staying with stuff in the public domain.
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Ian O'Toole
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Be careful with work that was originally produced commercially, often the client will own the copyright to the image and may continue to do so.
 
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Mike Leonard
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Regardless of what other people think, as an artist who shows his work on DeviantArt, I would be outraged if this was done without my consent. On my DA page I have the following:

"My art is displayed within the format of DeviantArt. If you want to link to it on another site, ask permission! I do not give permission to link directly to the images, but I will allow links to the DA pages they are on. Just ask."

The problem is, you can see my art without going to the page this is on. Likewise, DA provides artists with the option of having a "Download" button on the page; if we haven't chosen that option, it's because we do not want you to download our art. Does this stop you from right-clicking the art? No. That's where your ethics should tell you not to do it.

Due diligence at the very least is to search the artists page for whether or not they want people to be able to download their images. Courtesy at the least is to ask the artist for permission to use it.

I do have a few files on DA that have the download button activated, but most people don't seem to notice.. if you don't click the button, you don't get the highest resolution version.
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