Poughkeepsie, NY asked in Gaming and Intellectual Property for New York

Q: What can I do to make this business start legally the right way?

We have a video game in the making based off of a TV show. I know there are copyright issues since we’re using the same characters, but what can we do to prevent that? We’d like to start a kickstarter campaign after we’re done with 35% of the game and start monitoring. How would we work around that? Would love to work with an experienced attorney in that matter to discuss how we can move forward without being sued and have the right to sell the video game with me being the sole owner of the company. Thanks

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: This is a very common question. Many bloggers and fans of shows or movie stars get really discouraged when they get cease & desist letter from the shows/stars lawyers.

Your situation is even more problematic: you are trying to raise funds, and then sell products and make money off the TV show. It is a commercial enterprise, and you are much more likely to get a C&D letter than some blogger or fan site operator. Whereas many stars may be hesitant to needlessly piss off their fan base by suing them, almost all are willing to go after people making money off them.

If you want to continue, then you have a choice. (1) You can either license it from the owner of the TV show. (2) Or you can make the video game in the same genre but different enough from the show that it would not violate the show owner’s rights. No attorney will advise you to just ignore the owner’s rights.

I understand that this is a hard decision to make, and one that you can hire a copyright lawyer to give you an input. But in the end, it is a business decision and not a legal one.

Good luck!

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