Using artwork in another game

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customapps
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Using artwork in another game

Post by customapps » April 14th, 2015, 11:18 am

Hi all,

We are a small team working on a new online game in the style of Travian. We have a very limited budget (out of our pockets), and are considering using ready made artwork (possibly with some adaptation). I checked the licence of Battle for Wesnoth on Github and it says the source is licensed under GNU GPL 2. Who should we contact to ask for permission to use artwork from Battle of Wesnoth?

Thanks.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by beetlenaut » April 14th, 2015, 9:40 pm

Hello there!

The images are also licensed under GPL 2, so you wouldn't technically have to ask anyone. Still, it would be polite to talk to the artists first. If you want to do that, you can find a list of portrait artists in the data folder data/core/images/portraits/ARTISTS You should also look at this thread. There is a lot more art in the same style from another project that is also using BfW images.
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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by ancestral » April 15th, 2015, 5:26 am

Go ahead and use them! You do not need to ask.

Just be sure to abide by the GPL. This may mean your whole project needs to conform to it as well. If you are not familiar with the license, please read it through and look over the FAQ.
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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by Andrettin » April 15th, 2015, 8:17 am

ancestral wrote:This may mean your whole project needs to conform to it as well.
I don't think this is the case. It seems that the relationship between art and code would count as "mere aggregation" - otherwise games like 0 AD wouldn't be able to have their code under the GPLv2 and its artwork under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 - so he wouldn't need to release the code under the GPLv2 if he uses GPLed art. It would, of course, be nice of him to do so, but my understanding is that he would have no obligation to release his entire project under the GPLv2. Artwork that is derivative of Wesnoth art would need to be released under the GPLv2, however.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by Midnight_Carnival » April 15th, 2015, 10:13 am

Hi, I agree that you should talk to the relevant artists first.
Question: is this game of yours going to be for sale or open source or somewhere in between?
I think that many artists would love to collaborate on a new project, but if you're making money out of it they may not want ot work for free.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by iceiceice » April 15th, 2015, 10:54 am

I remember also the earlier thread we had about a similar question.

http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=39230
(warning: pretty long and not worth the read)

However I basically think ancestral is right and you might need to be careful. I think it is possible but not likely to be mere aggregation when you use art in your game, and I think it would depend.

I'm going to try to argue from example and not from literal text of GPL because we did that in the other thread :p

The whole issue of what is a "derivative work" stems from copyright law, and the GPL is quite clear that it considers this term in the fullest extent of the law.

Example
1. I want to make a comic book with Mickey Mouse AND Batman in it. When I do this, the result is a derivative work of both Mickey Mouse and of Batman. It's not "mere aggregation" as if they just happened to appear on the same pages in the book together -- the whole is larger than the sum of the parts, and that whole is a derivative work, intellectually distinct from what came before it. I would have to pay royalties to both parties to distribute this -- and moreover, even if I have rights to distribute BOTH existing Mickey Mouse comics and existing Batman comics, I can't distribute this new comic without getting more rights.

2. I'm a film distributor. I want to change the sound track of a film -- focus groups told me people like a different one better. The artist likes the original sound track -- can't I just ignore them though? After all it's easy to take apart a film and its sound track -- it must be mere aggregation right?

No. When you attach sound to a film, that is a significant artistic contribution which can change the meaning of the work. You are making a derivative work when you do that and you can't distribute this unless you get permission from the copyright holder.

3. I'm Barnes and Noble. I want to sell many different books to people. Publishers secured the rights to distribute these books, now I buy them in bulk and put them in a store. But wait, you say, when I put a Harry Potter book on a table next to an Agatha Christie novel, that juxtaposition is a potentially significant artistic statement, which might change the quality of the work. Thus I need to secure additional rights to distribute them this way. Or, I'm a Linux distributor distributing some GPL programs and some LGPL programs / otherwise licensed programs. Doesn't this form a derivative work of the collection and violate the GPL?

No. This is exactly what mere aggregation is supposed to cover. When you juxtapose two things in a way that *does not* make a significant intellectual contribution, it cannot violate copyright law, and the GPL makes an explicit point of this.

4. I'm Microsoft. I make Microsoft Word. Does that mean that most documents that are written on computers are now my intellectual property?

No. A document written on microsoft word does not derive intellectually from the source code of microsoft word or any part of it. It was merely a tool, unrelated to its meaning or significance. Thus copyright law does not apply.

5. I'm a game maker, I make console games for the Sega Genesis. I think that the Sega Genesis is basically just a "viewer" for my game, similar to how Microsoft Word is a viewer for Word Documents. However, a Word Document "makes sense" on its own independent from Word. My game cartridge is pretty much useless without a Sega Genesis. A game is not merely a random collection of sounds and images, it is an overall qualitative experience, a piece of art. The quality of that "experience" is dramatically impacted by whether or not you have a Sega Genesis. Thus I fear that my game cartridge is actually a derivative work of the Sega Genesis somehow, so Sega actually owns me :(

No. In practice I guess there is a lot of precedent to say that games are copyrighted independently of game consoles / game console software. Maybe to understand, should say that the game is written to a "specification" corresponding to the Genesis. The Genesis merely implements that spec. When a game is written to a specification, it does not immediately become a derivative work of that specification. Otherwise all interacting software would collapse to one under copyright law I suppose...

6. I'm a game maker. Some of my sprites are GPL and some of them are CC-BY-SA. That's okay, right?

I'm tempted to say no. Since I also don't think the Mickey Mouse + Batman comic is "mere aggregation", I don't think that putting sprites from different sources together is mere aggregation. The whole is intellectually more than the sum of the parts, and when that happens the GPL says the whole should be GPL.

6. I'm a game maker. My engine is licensed one way and my images another. One of them is GPL, is that broken?

Not obviously. But I think it depends greatly on the specifics.

If your engine doesn't *really* stand-alone from the art, from the game, if it can't *really* be used to make many different games... then I'm tempted to say that your engine isn't really a work distinct from the game, and should be licensed the same way as the whole game. If like the anura engine, it really can be used to run very different games, and it logically stands alone... then it seems pretty easy to argue that its a separate and stand-alone work.

I would really like to hear if someone can explain *in terms of the text* why it should be different, and what exactly is the clear bright line that separates the art from the engine in the GPL. This issue really has nothing to do with the words "preferred modifiable source", the only substantive question afaict whether the game as a whole counts as a derivative work of the art and the engine. I don't think it's really about "mere aggregation" -- I don't think that using Microsoft Word to edit a word document is "mere aggregation" either. I think it's really about how the nature of the work is affected by the combination... or something...

7. I'm making a web game. How does this all change?

I really have no idea... there was another version of GPL called AGPL that is supposed to place more stringent requirements here. But I don't know if that means that the original GPL didn't make requirements.

Just because many games do something doesn't mean it's kosher, esp. when none of this stuff is court tested afaik.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by aquileia » April 15th, 2015, 11:49 am

iceiceice wrote:4. I'm Microsoft. I make Microsoft Word. Does that mean that most documents that are written on computers are now my intellectual property?
That's a wholly different matter though - you don't distribute any part of MS Word with your document, so it's covered by the MS Software Licence Agreement as "using the software", and content generated with it falls under your copyright, not theirs. The moment you extract some content from Word and use it for your own software, you're in trouble.

And as to the actual question, beetlenaut provided the relevant answer - while you can use the art in your project without asking the artists (as long as you provide the art package under GPL2), it's polite to ask them beforehand.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by Andrettin » April 15th, 2015, 1:11 pm

iceiceice wrote:I remember also the earlier thread we had about a similar question.

http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=39230
(warning: pretty long and not worth the read)

However I basically think ancestral is right and you might need to be careful. I think it is possible but not likely to be mere aggregation when you use art in your game, and I think it would depend.

I'm going to try to argue from example and not from literal text of GPL because we did that in the other thread :p

The whole issue of what is a "derivative work" stems from copyright law, and the GPL is quite clear that it considers this term in the fullest extent of the law.

Example
1. I want to make a comic book with Mickey Mouse AND Batman in it. When I do this, the result is a derivative work of both Mickey Mouse and of Batman. It's not "mere aggregation" as if they just happened to appear on the same pages in the book together -- the whole is larger than the sum of the parts, and that whole is a derivative work, intellectually distinct from what came before it. I would have to pay royalties to both parties to distribute this -- and moreover, even if I have rights to distribute BOTH existing Mickey Mouse comics and existing Batman comics, I can't distribute this new comic without getting more rights.

2. I'm a film distributor. I want to change the sound track of a film -- focus groups told me people like a different one better. The artist likes the original sound track -- can't I just ignore them though? After all it's easy to take apart a film and its sound track -- it must be mere aggregation right?

No. When you attach sound to a film, that is a significant artistic contribution which can change the meaning of the work. You are making a derivative work when you do that and you can't distribute this unless you get permission from the copyright holder.

3. I'm Barnes and Noble. I want to sell many different books to people. Publishers secured the rights to distribute these books, now I buy them in bulk and put them in a store. But wait, you say, when I put a Harry Potter book on a table next to an Agatha Christie novel, that juxtaposition is a potentially significant artistic statement, which might change the quality of the work. Thus I need to secure additional rights to distribute them this way. Or, I'm a Linux distributor distributing some GPL programs and some LGPL programs / otherwise licensed programs. Doesn't this form a derivative work of the collection and violate the GPL?

No. This is exactly what mere aggregation is supposed to cover. When you juxtapose two things in a way that *does not* make a significant intellectual contribution, it cannot violate copyright law, and the GPL makes an explicit point of this.

4. I'm Microsoft. I make Microsoft Word. Does that mean that most documents that are written on computers are now my intellectual property?

No. A document written on microsoft word does not derive intellectually from the source code of microsoft word or any part of it. It was merely a tool, unrelated to its meaning or significance. Thus copyright law does not apply.

5. I'm a game maker, I make console games for the Sega Genesis. I think that the Sega Genesis is basically just a "viewer" for my game, similar to how Microsoft Word is a viewer for Word Documents. However, a Word Document "makes sense" on its own independent from Word. My game cartridge is pretty much useless without a Sega Genesis. A game is not merely a random collection of sounds and images, it is an overall qualitative experience, a piece of art. The quality of that "experience" is dramatically impacted by whether or not you have a Sega Genesis. Thus I fear that my game cartridge is actually a derivative work of the Sega Genesis somehow, so Sega actually owns me :(

No. In practice I guess there is a lot of precedent to say that games are copyrighted independently of game consoles / game console software. Maybe to understand, should say that the game is written to a "specification" corresponding to the Genesis. The Genesis merely implements that spec. When a game is written to a specification, it does not immediately become a derivative work of that specification. Otherwise all interacting software would collapse to one under copyright law I suppose...

6. I'm a game maker. Some of my sprites are GPL and some of them are CC-BY-SA. That's okay, right?

I'm tempted to say no. Since I also don't think the Mickey Mouse + Batman comic is "mere aggregation", I don't think that putting sprites from different sources together is mere aggregation. The whole is intellectually more than the sum of the parts, and when that happens the GPL says the whole should be GPL.

6. I'm a game maker. My engine is licensed one way and my images another. One of them is GPL, is that broken?

Not obviously. But I think it depends greatly on the specifics.

If your engine doesn't *really* stand-alone from the art, from the game, if it can't *really* be used to make many different games... then I'm tempted to say that your engine isn't really a work distinct from the game, and should be licensed the same way as the whole game. If like the anura engine, it really can be used to run very different games, and it logically stands alone... then it seems pretty easy to argue that its a separate and stand-alone work.

I would really like to hear if someone can explain *in terms of the text* why it should be different, and what exactly is the clear bright line that separates the art from the engine in the GPL. This issue really has nothing to do with the words "preferred modifiable source", the only substantive question afaict whether the game as a whole counts as a derivative work of the art and the engine. I don't think it's really about "mere aggregation" -- I don't think that using Microsoft Word to edit a word document is "mere aggregation" either. I think it's really about how the nature of the work is affected by the combination... or something...

7. I'm making a web game. How does this all change?

I really have no idea... there was another version of GPL called AGPL that is supposed to place more stringent requirements here. But I don't know if that means that the original GPL didn't make requirements.

Just because many games do something doesn't mean it's kosher, esp. when none of this stuff is court tested afaik.
The GPL has been tested (and stood) in court multiple times, but I can't recall any time that was related to graphics.

Anyhow, I think this is relevant (from the GPLv2 FAQ):
If the modules are included in the same executable file, they are definitely combined in one program. If modules are designed to run linked together in a shared address space, that almost surely means combining them into one program.

By contrast, pipes, sockets and command-line arguments are communication mechanisms normally used between two separate programs. So when they are used for communication, the modules normally are separate programs. But if the semantics of the communication are intimate enough, exchanging complex internal data structures, that too could be a basis to consider the two parts as combined into a larger program.
Also, a previous discussion on this which may be of use as a reference.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by iceiceice » April 15th, 2015, 6:30 pm

Here's my (simplified) take on it.

GPL basically takes all the power of copyright and rather than use it for "evil" (making distributed content proprietary) it uses it for "good" (protecting the rights of downstream users to make modifications and distribute).

Therefore it seems helpful to reason by analogy with, what would happen if the content were proprierty copyrighted content.

CC-BY-SA talks alot about rights to "remix" a work. Everyone knows what remixing a song is. But here it's not limited to just songs, the concept is about art generally. If I want to make a music video, and I use a popular song by Greenday or something, for example, I'm not allowed to distribute that -- Greenday could sue me. In CC-BY-SA language, I'm "remixing" their work by combining it with a video. If it weren't a Greenday song, but a free CC-BY-SA song, I believe the resulting music video would still have to be CC-BY-SA.

Games are also art. If you use "remix" someones' art by combining it with other art and code to make a game, the result is a derivative work. It's not mere aggregation, you made something new and different. Mere aggregation is like, if I walk into Barnes and Noble, and Harry Potter is on the front table, and a Green Day song happens to come on. It's just elevator music, it's not a combination in the sense of a new artistic product. When a new track comes on in Wesnoth, it's not just elevator music, it was chosen specifically for the game to make a new experience, to make art. Copyright law protects that art, in general -- that is its purpose.

I don't know the real legal situation, but if it is indeed okay to mix arbitrary content licenses together when making any game, I hope that it's not for the reason that you say. I hope that it's for reason of some magic clause in the GPL and not the "mere aggregation". Because if courts find that putting images into a game is "mere aggregation" it means that they are finding that 'games are not art in the same way that a music video is art', and I think that that is just not true.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by Andrettin » April 15th, 2015, 7:38 pm

Three lawyers specializing in the video game industry were having a question session today at /r/gamedev, so I asked them about this subject, let's see what they answer...

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by iceiceice » April 15th, 2015, 8:06 pm

Thanks for this brilliant find :)

Please, who is reading this, consider to upvote Andrettin's question so that it is more likely to be seen. I also posted a follow-up question in response to it.

Edit: I asked a different question here also: https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/commen ... te/cqdj138

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by iceiceice » April 16th, 2015, 6:19 pm

Andrettin: So I reflected on what I wrote before -- I think maybe I got a little closer to resolving what I was uncomfortable about.

I think in wesnoth, the proper way to understand it is
  • A campaign is a work of art. When you put units together, with events and story line etc., you are producing a derivative work in the sense of copyright, and all the different parts of the campaign should be compatibly licensed.
  • A collection of campaigns, is mere aggregation. That's why (edit: reflected in the fact that) in Debian wesnoth campaigns can ship in separate packages.
  • The wesnoth engine itself (meaning the C++) is copyrightable, but it does not form a derivative work with the campaigns. I guess the analogy I have is like, a play is a work of art, but the techniques of implementation of the play aren't part of the play. For example if a play has a scene where an object is supposed to float across the stage -- how the stage hands, how the back stage actually makes that happen isn't a copyrighted element of the play. I guess you could separately try to patent your backstage techniques ? But regardless it should be thought of as separate intellectual property it seems.
I think for some games though you can't really make a clear distinct between the "work of art" aspect of the game and the "backstage details" aspect of the game. For instance suppose that wesnoth were a much more rudimentary game -- there is only one campaign, Heir to the Throne, when you boot it up you play it, and all the events and scripting are hard coded into the C++. In this case, it's still clear that the "art" aspect of the game is the campaign as a whole. If that cannot be clearly separated from the engine then I don't see how you can GPL the "code" and CC-BY-SA the "images & sounds".

For instance in this game:

https://twitter.com/metkis/status/586690062944841728

It's seems that the "Art" aspect is the whole experience of the game, the way the butterfly reacts to the user. That's part of the code presumably. So while unity is his engine and is copyrighted one way, I think properly you wouldn't be able to separately copyright the code that backs up the butterfly from the art images that he loads related to it under incompatible licenses.

Similarly I doubt if a game like 'pacman' could be separately copyrighted the images and the engine -- because probably the code is so simple that it can't really do anything besides play games of pacman.

Anyways I guess that's why I expect that the answer is not "unequivocally you can always clearly separate the code from the art content". I think the answer is probably "campaign code should be considered part of the art content" and the rest of the code is "engine", and probably depends on specifics. At least that's my armchair lawyering for the day. I hope the real lawyers get back to us though.

Edit: It's possible also I guess that legally, courts just don't consider games to be art. But if that's the case I think they are wrong and probably wouldn't personally rely on a legal finding like that.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by Andrettin » April 16th, 2015, 7:56 pm

iceiceice wrote:Andrettin: So I reflected on what I wrote before -- I think maybe I got a little closer to resolving what I was uncomfortable about.

I think in wesnoth, the proper way to understand it is
  • A campaign is a work of art. When you put units together, with events and story line etc., you are producing a derivative work in the sense of copyright, and all the different parts of the campaign should be compatibly licensed.
  • A collection of campaigns, is mere aggregation. That's why in Debian wesnoth campaigns can ship in separate packages.
  • The wesnoth engine itself (meaning the C++) is copyrightable, but it does not form a derivative work with the campaigns. I guess the analogy I have is like, a play is a work of art, but the techniques of implementation of the play aren't part of the play. For example if a play has a scene where an object is supposed to float across the stage -- how the stage hands, how the back stage actually makes that happen isn't a copyrighted element of the play. I guess you could separately try to patent your backstage techniques ? But regardless it should be thought of as separate intellectual property it seems.
I think for some games though you can't really make a clear distinct between the "work of art" aspect of the game and the "backstage details" aspect of the game. For instance suppose that wesnoth were a much more rudimentary game -- there is only one campaign, Heir to the Throne, when you boot it up you play it, and all the events and scripting are hard coded into the C++. In this case, it's still clear that the "art" aspect of the game is the campaign as a whole. If that cannot be clearly separated from the engine then I don't see how you can GPL the "code" and CC-BY-SA the "images & sounds".

For instance in this game:

https://twitter.com/metkis/status/586690062944841728

It's seems that the "Art" aspect is the whole experience of the game, the way the butterfly reacts to the user. That's part of the code presumably. So while unity is his engine and is copyrighted one way, I think properly you wouldn't be able to separately copyright the code that backs up the butterfly from the art images that he loads related to it under incompatible licenses.

Similarly I doubt if a game like 'pacman' could be separately copyrighted the images and the engine -- because probably the code is so simple that it can't really do anything besides play games of pacman.

Anyways I guess that's why I expect that the answer is not "unequivocally you can always clearly separate the code from the art content". I think the answer is probably "campaign code should be considered part of the art content" and the rest of the code is "engine", and probably depends on specifics. At least that's my armchair lawyering for the day. I hope the real lawyers get back to us though.
Yes, it's a difficult question. I see where you're coming from. I would be very glad if you are right, but my personal interpretation of what I've read in the license is that it is "mere aggregation". But as you said, this is just "armchair lawyering", hopefully we will still hear back from the actual lawyers there.

In any case, I agree that it would probably depend on the degree of integration between engine and graphics/audio.
Edit: It's possible also I guess that legally, courts just don't consider games to be art. But if that's the case I think they are wrong and probably wouldn't personally rely on a legal finding like that.
I'm not sure how it is in the US or Austria, but I recall that at least in Germany games aren't considered legally art. Which indeed sucks - I imagine this should change eventually, though, as conceptions catch up to the times.

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by Bodeshmoun » March 24th, 2016, 9:29 pm

I have the same question for a different context : I have made some cards for a miniature game.
These cards use different artwork under several different licenses : GPL 2.0, CC-0, CC-BY 2.0, CC-BY 3.0, OFL 1.1.
This creation is primarily for personal use, and I am not related to the editor of the game (I avoid to use their copyrighted material) but I intend to distribute it around me.
An example of what I have done : Image

I hope that the license part at the bottom of the card and the availability of the source file is enough to comply to the licenses.
And I also hope that such a work could be at least tolerated even if the different licenses are incompatible between them.

Does a publication on this forum should be considered as talking to the relevant artists first ?
If not, where can I contact them ?

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Re: Using artwork in another game

Post by Emian » April 9th, 2017, 10:56 am

Hello.
I read a lot of topics about licensing of wesnoth art in this forum.
If i understand correctly, it is possible to use artworks in other GPL'ed projects.
But how to be in situation, where project consist of two parts: open-source (GPL v2) client (with art) and server (not GPL predominantly). Is it possible to use unit's artworks for open-source client?

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