Asked in Copyright, Gaming and Intellectual Property

Q: Query on a legal FAQ point regarding fan works

I have been trying to contact Blizzard Entertainment for almost a year to query a point of their legal FAQ page. In short, I wish to create fan writing using characters from their IP. This would be in blog format, non monetised, with disclaimers to state I am not endorsed by or affiliated with Blizzard. However, the legal FAQ states the following:

'Can I write novels, screenplays, theatrical productions or other adaptations based on your games?

No. Blizzard Entertainment® reserves the right to extend and expand our properties to other media. We want to provide a consistent story and universe for our customers, and want to ensure that only the highest quality, officially licensed and approved material is created based on our characters and other creative properties.'

The examples provided seemed to imply that only larger scale published productions, made for monetary gain, were the main focus of this, but I wanted to be sure.

What would you advise? Thanks for your time.

1 Lawyer Answer
Robert Nichols
Robert Nichols

A: Copyright infringement doesn't technically require that an infringing work of art is published for profit, just that it is published. The concept of fair use sometimes applies when a character has only been portrayed in one medium and the fan art portrays the character in another medium. But Blizzard very famously portrays their characters in games, videos, blog posts, and many other mediums.

Often, Studios allow fan art and fan games because they don't want to discourage the fan communities. But, in general, game studios have the right to sue fan artists for infringement if they've reserved their rights like Blizzard does in that clause. If that were to happen, it could potentially carry financial consequences for the fan artist, and it would certainly mean removing the fan art from the internet.

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