Q: I started a video game news/blog site. Can I legally use screenshots and game images found online when writing on them?
In order to ask for permission and wait for an answer from each video game publisher, I would never actually be able to publish anything myself. I am wondering if it is ok to use images from games I find on company's social media sites, and elsewhere, when discussing or reporting on them, and if commenting on a specific feature about a game (for example, an in-game map. Would it be ok to post said map in the blog post?). Thanks!
A: To answer your question directly: No, it would not be legal to use screenshots and game images found online when writing for your video game news/blog site.
If you're going to repost screenshots of images created by video game publishers without their permission, you are opening up liability for a copyright infringement lawsuit. Depending on the use, you may have a fairly strong argument that your use qualifies as "fair use," however, fair use is a defense to a copyright infringement action. That means that you'd have to pay an attorney to defend your use after any number of video game publishers sue you. Even if you have a rock-solid defense of fair use, it doesn't necessarily prevent a lawsuit from being filed in the first place.
Although video game publishers *could* sue for infringement for review sites using their copyrighted content, many do not because it's free advertising for their games. So, they may have a civil cause of action, but it would not be in their economic interest to pursue a lawsuit, so they choose to not sue in these circumstances. Getting written permission for each instance of use is going to be the best way to avoid liability for intellectual property infringement. If you're not going to seek permission, at least search for "[specific gaming publisher]" and "copyright infringement," to see if they're particularly litigious.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.