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Content Copyright and Intellectual Property

Content Copyright and Intellectual Property

Aug 29 2019, 9:16 AM PST 10 min

Disclaimer

The information contained in this document does not constitute legal advice. If you ever have specific questions or concerns, we encourage you to talk to a lawyer. Roblox does not and cannot serve as your lawyer, and Roblox is not responsible for any liability or costs you may incur as a result of relying on this information.


The world of copyright law is full of jargon and confusing to many developers. However, it’s a critical topic for two primary reasons:

  • Protecting your work — On the Roblox platform, game developers who are working on their own projects (versus other paid projects) own their original works of creation (subject to the licenses granted to Roblox), so it’s important to protect that right.

  • Protecting yourself — You may be subject to claims of intellectual property infringement if you use third-party intellectual property without authorization. It is therefore important (and solely up to you) to ensure that you have all rights to any content you upload to or use on Roblox.

What is Copyright?

A copyright comes into effect when an original work is fixed in a tangible medium such as a book, video game, sound recording, film, or something else that someone can see, hear, or perceive. For example, a storyline that you just thought about isn’t copyrighted; however, once you write it down, you may be eligible for copyright protection.

When someone acquires a copyright in an original work, they generally have exclusive rights to use it. If someone else copies that work without permission — and does not have a legal defense to use the work — the creator may be able to take legal action and seek to recover damages and attorney’s fees for unauthorized uses.

Ownership

If you create an original work, you’re automatically the owner of that work’s copyright. One exception is that if you create something as part of your job, your employer will probably become the owner of that creation. For instance, if you’re hired as a game artist for a studio and you create a character for the studio’s game, the studio (not you) may become the owner of that character.

Infringement

There are a number of ways you can get in trouble with copyright. The main way is copying or using a copyrighted work that does not belong to you. For example, if you download a copyrighted song without first having a license or permission to do so and put it in your game, the owner can take legal action against you.

Common Misconceptions

Each of these common practices can potentially violate copyright law:

  • Giving credit to the copyright owner
    Simply crediting the copyright owner without gaining legal permission to use their work does not protect you from liability for infringement.
  • Modifying copyrighted work
    Editing or modifying someone's copyrighted work to make it "yours" may still violate copyright law.
  • Including disclaimers
    Disclaimers such as "No copyright infringement intended," or "I did not create this" does not mean you have the copyright owner's permission to use it — nor does it mean you're making fair use of the content.
  • Using purchased content in a game
    Just because you purchased content doesn't mean that you obtained a license to use that content in a game (see Buy/Download Content below).
  • Claiming "non-profit"
    Declaring your uploaded content as "non-profit" — even if you don't intend to profit from it — does not give you rights to use it.
  • Other people are doing it!
    Just because others violate copyright law (and don't get caught) does not mean you should follow their example. You may still be liable for copyright infringement, even if you believe that "others are doing it too."
  • Claiming "fair use"
    Sometimes you're allowed to use a copyrighted work without the owner’s permission, for instance in news reporting, teaching, or parody. This is called fair use but it’s often difficult to determine whether a particular use constitutes fair use. You can still be liable for copyright infringement, even if you believe that your use of the work is "fair."

Copyright vs. Trademark

A trademark — not to be confused with a copyright — protects brand names, logos, iconic game characters, and other source identifiers from being used by others for certain purposes. Using trademarks without permission can also open you up to legal claims and liability for damages.


Expectations of Roblox Developers

Roblox Terms of Use

All Roblox users, including anyone who uploads content on the Roblox platform, are required to abide by the Terms of Use and any other Roblox policies or guidelines that may be in effect. Failure to comply may result in your losing the right to use Roblox, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Also, as part of understanding copyright law, please review the sections on User Generated Creations (UGC) and Intellectual Property (IP) found in the Terms of Use.

DMCA Adherence

Roblox complies with the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Importantly, Roblox does not and will not tolerate repeat infringement and will terminate the accounts of such infringers in appropriate circumstances.

Obtaining Legal Assets

Create Your Own Content

If you have a specific vision for your game’s content, consider creating original content via image, model, or audio editing applications (ensure that you have appropriate permission or licenses to use any intellectual property contained within those applications such as photographs or other images, including artwork).

Hire a Content Creator

To hire a content creator, you may browse or post a request in the Public Collaboration category of the developer forums. This is a marketplace for creators to showcase themselves, find work, or post opportunities for development work.

Buy/Download Content

A final option is to license content from rights holders. It is also very important that you comply with the terms of the license you receive in order to use the content. Many licenses only allow content to be used for personal, non-commercial purposes, so you need to make sure you can use it on Roblox. Also, there may be some content you license that requires additional permission before you use it, such as a photograph of a person. In that case, you would need permission or a license from both the person owning the photograph and the person appearing in it.

Tags:
  • copyright
  • intellectual property
  • dmca
  • content
  • legal