Using third party software

What's the situation when someone develops a game or product based on third party software (with permission) i.e a "vanilla" product or engine that is made available for that purpose - then someone else comes along and uses it?

In true lawyer style I have to say it depends on what the licence terms of the "vanilla" software are.

Use of middleware is extremely common in games and other applications but each have there own terms concerning modifications, adaptations and improvements etc - so it all turns on what they say.

Non-derivative works i.e. those that aren’t derived from the "vanilla" code should belong to you.

The code in that work would be protected as a literary work so that a substantial part of the code could not be reused by someone else without consent. Also art and visual assets would be protected as artist copyright works.

However functionality per se is not protectable.

So if someone has just copied the ideas then its hard to do anything.

If the owner of the "vanilla" tech has taken his mods and is entitled to under the "Vanilla" licence then its hard to do anything.

However if someone has copied his original work or a substantial part then its possibly copyright infringement.

The key is to make sure that before using any third party software youunderstand the terms - and if someone does copy your work to look to enforce your rights once you have understood what they are. 

Alex Chapman


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