Leland, NC asked in Copyright, Business Law, Entertainment / Sports and Internet Law for North Carolina

Q: Could I have a website and provide a service to users that allows for uploading screenshots from video games for profit?

This website and web service would allow users to upload their screenshots from video games and share it with their friends. There is more to it, but as far as legal, would it be copyright or other IP conflicts if users screenshot their own in-game experience and upload it to the site and share it. They can edit the screenshots if they want. All of this, can I sell this service for profit without legal conflict? I.e. is their IP in someone taking a picture of them playing a video game?



1 Lawyer Answer
Will Blackton
Will Blackton
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: If you're going to allow users to post potentially infringing material, you should become familiar with the DMCA takedown process and register a DMCA takedown agent with the U.S. Copyright Office. Qualifying for the DMCA safe harbor would shift the concerns of copyright infringement from you to the users posting any copyrighted content.

Posting screenshots of software, websites, and video games, is generally copyright infringement. Editing these screenshots may mean users are creating derivative work, but that would still be copyright infringement. However, depending on a number of factors, there may be a strong argument that posting these screenshots qualify as fair use, which is a defense to copyright infringement claims. An attorney can advise you whether this type of use would qualify as fair use, but only a court can determine whether the type of use does qualify.

Contact an attorney who specializes in copyright law in your area for more answers to your specific questions and to assist you in mitigating legal liability.

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