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IP Rights For Games Made In School?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the share-and-share-alike dept.

Games 128

Gamasutra has a story questioning whether schools should be able to hold intellectual property rights on games created by students. The point out a recent incident in which a development team was unable to market a game they created, and another situation where a school overrode the creator's decision to withdraw the game from a contest. "What irks Aikman is that, after graduating, he and his team approached DigiPen, hoping it might change its policy and make an exception for the award-winning game, but the school wouldn't budge. 'They were dead set on not setting a precedent because, if they let us keep the IP, they were afraid other students would want the same. But I believe there's something wrong with the idea of DigiPen owning games it has no intention of doing anything with, while discouraging people like me who could really make use of our efforts and use it as a springboard to a career.'"

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Oh dear god! (0, Offtopic)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772095)

And I thoughr I was the happiest guy I know.

Re:Oh dear god! (0, Offtopic)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772127)

I crap I thought I was in the unhappy people watch more TV story.

Re:Oh dear god! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772149)

You accidentally the whole thread!

gb2/b/ (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772731)

When on Slashdot, troll like Slashdot trolls troll.

Re:gb2/b/ (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773455)

You mean like "lol look at that guy's uid" oh wait :(

Re:Oh dear god! (4, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772161)

I crap

Some things are just better if kept to yourself.

Re:Oh dear god! (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772225)

thoughr

I crap

It appears that I am full of misteaks today

Re:Oh dear god! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772519)

And poop

Re:Oh dear god! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772559)

I thought you had crapped?

Re:Oh dear god! (1)

Mozk (844858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773421)

Disregard parent's advice... It will only lead to constipation.

Re:Oh dear god! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25774023)

Disregard parent's advice... It will only lead to constipation.

Mommy says I shouldn't listen to you because you're full of it.

Schools - A distorted reality (4, Interesting)

Gates82 (706573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772111)

Schools play by their own rules regardless of how the world works. I view universities as a service I pay for. Therefore anything I create at a university (unless employed to work on) should inherently become my property. Even if I use school resources to create the item (I'm paying for those services). The one situation that may change this is if my education is being subsidized, such as at a state college. My feelings then is that the state should have a stake in ownership, not the university (they are not paying for it). And for other then military work the state should release the information into the public domain as it is paid for by tax dollars and should become the property of the people.

--
So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772153)

If I create something, and I never agreed to give the content to a 3rd party...It's mine, mine, mine. If the university has some sort of policy in place that makes all submitted content permanent property of the university, then I should have gone to a different university.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (3, Funny)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772229)

If you don't like air pollution, you should have gone to another planet.

Where do I sign up? (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772263)

I'm just askin'.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772353)

Schools play by their own rules regardless of how the world works. I view universities as a service I pay for. Therefore anything I create at a university (unless employed to work on) should inherently become my property.

You have a distorted understanding of how the world works. When you pay for someone to do work you, you do *not* necessarily get the IP rights to that work. A notorious example is wedding photography -- you're paying for the photographer's time and a set of prints, but you do not have duplication rights. Those belong to the photographer, because it's considered an artistic work, just as if you hired a famous artist to paint a scene. The artist still holds the reproduction and marketing rights. If you want to duplicate your prints, you have to pay the photographer for them or negotiate for the duplication rights.

If you hire somebody to do *any* creative work (*including* programming), and you care about the IP rights, then make sure that's in the contract -- whichever side of the paying equation you're on. If you make assumptions about this, then you are in for a rude awakening.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772525)

When you pay for someone to do work you, you do *not* necessarily get the IP rights to that work. A notorious example is wedding photography -- you're paying for the photographer's time and a set of prints, but you do not have duplication rights. Those belong to the photographer, because it's considered an artistic work, just as if you hired a famous artist to paint a scene.

You're correct, but the situation with the photographer is not analogous to the situation with a University.u When you hire a wedding photographer, the photographer creates the "IP" (the wedding photos). But in Gates82's post, when he "hires" a university, it is not the university creating the IP (a game in this topic, but could be most anything else), but him instead. There's nothing wrong with your post, but it doesn't contradict anything Gates82 wrote.

However, Gates82 also believes that if he pays all of his own tuition and fees then whatever he produces should be his. However, at a public university, some portion of every student's costs are subsidized by the state, so the state might have some interest in anything he produces even if he pays his own way.

- T

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772599)

But in Gates82's post, when he "hires" a university, it is not the university creating the IP (a game in this topic, but could be most anything else), but him instead.

Well, it's true it's not strictly analogous, but my overall point is that assignment of IP does not automatically go where you assume it might. In the case of the University, they're obviously providing something of value, since the students are doing it within that structure, and not outside of the school. The school is providing the hardware and guidance for the project.

Let's say I wanted to break into the gaming industry, and I tell Valve that I'll pay them to allow me to work on the next Half Life, just so I can get the experience on my resume (probably a lot of people would do that, if they could). Am I "hiring" Valve, in that case? No -- it's more negative salary. It doesn't give me any IP rights.

I think that's more analogous to the University example. The University is "letting" you pay them to attend classes and do projects, so you can get the experience and move on to bigger things.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773433)

Those are good points. However, I can provide a real-world situation which is essentially identical to your Valve example, but provides a counterpoint: Small Business Development Centers (or at least the two with which I've been acquainted). A startup business will lease space (potentially including equipment such as phones & computers) and services (including a shared administrative staff and often business development and management consulting) from the SBDC. During this time the startup may develop IP without the SBDC owning any part of it, although some startups might trade a percentage interest in lieu of direct payment.

As another poster noted, there is typically a condition of admission where the university has ownership of anything the student submits. I recall that being the case at mine, and I suspect it's common if not pervasive. And that would render this interesting discussion largely moot.

Oh, and thanks for a reasonable response to an AC.

- T

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (2, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773929)

except that my schools have always REQUIRED people to do their own original work. Therefore the work should remain mine. I believe the schools opinion is that they are "directing" the work, so the work you do is "work for hire" and assigned to them. They are directing the work you do.. you wouldn't have done it without their input as an assignment. Frankly, it's a corporate-style power grab to prevent students from benefiting when corporations "donate" large amounts of money to "help" students. In the case of many of the IP agreements in place with industry, perhaps the tax exemptions should be taken away from large schools and corporate donations as the rules do not benefits students anymore.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25774491)

The university is an employee of the student, not the other way around. What the student creates is their own IP, and to settle this, I think someone should just go to court over it already.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773737)

However, at a public university, some portion of every student's costs are subsidized by the state, so the state might have some interest in anything he produces even if he pays his own way.

So what you're saying is that because most people have received a government credit or 'subsidy', especially around tax time, the government owns what we produce?

I have issues with your logic.

Re: The wedding thing (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772583)

A lot of that is inertia. It isn't like the photos are worth a whole lot to the photographer as an artistic work, it just happens to be a lot more profitable for him to charge you for time and reproduction than it does to charge you for time and throw in the copyright.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773317)

You have a distorted understanding of how the world works. When you pay for someone to do work you, you do *not* necessarily get the IP rights to that work. A notorious example is wedding photography -- you're paying for the photographer's time and a set of prints, but you do not have duplication rights. Those belong to the photographer, because it's considered an artistic work, just as if you hired a famous artist to paint a scene. The artist still holds the reproduction and marketing rights. If you want to duplicate your prints, you have to pay the photographer for them or negotiate for the duplication rights.

Seriously? In that case, I'm never gonna pay any asshole photographer to take a photo. I can push the button well enough myself.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773693)

You have obviously never been married.

"Honey, I found a great way to save money on the wedding!"

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25775165)

Screw saving money on the wedding, think about how much time you can save on the divorce: There ya go honey, all the pictures of you from our wedding without me present! :D

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (5, Interesting)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772487)

> Even if I use school resources to create the item (I'm paying for those services)

While I do agree with you, this point here is problematic. While you are paying for the resources, you are (almost certainly) paying for educationally licensed versions of those resources. In short, if you were to commercialize something that they could prove you created using such resources, you could be sued for breach of contract.

Further, you also neglect to consider private contributions to universities. These usually represent rather significant portions of the budget, and can exceed a billion dollars in the case of particularly prestigious schools. As a result, no school can be considered to be funded entirely by the students, meaning that the school's resources are not entirely payed for by students anyway.

That being said, unless you are being paid to be there, they almost certainly have no claim to any IP created by a student, regardless of whether it's on the student's or the "university's time" (as the latter is being paid for by the student). The only possible argument to the contrary is that the university views the potential IP produced by the a student as additional compensation for their educational services.

There are interesting questions here though, namely what exactly a student pays for as part of their education. Intriguingly, I would have to say that a student has more claim to work they do for class than that they do otherwise, as the former is obviously part of the services they are paying for. Any university assistance on the latter, however, could very well be regarded as additional, unrelated services (e.g. consulting a professor, using software, etc).

As a final note: I am unaware of any school even attempting to assert ownership of IP created by liberal arts students, such as creative writings or art portfolios, etc. There may well be some definitive precedent within that area.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773229)

"As a final note: I am unaware of any school even attempting to assert ownership of IP created by liberal arts students, such as creative writings or art portfolios, etc. There may well be some definitive precedent within that area"

hmmmmm... for several years, my lawyer has sent, to my alma mater, several take-down or notices to cease their plagiarist crap. Several history instructors have used my writing verbatim in their class hand-outs and/or on their academic web site.

Am I being petty ? I do not think so - they gave total shit to, and dismissal of any idea that came from CS or engineering students - so fuck all of those humanities nit-wits.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (4, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773951)

yet schools can't manage to own the text books that professors write using student intern time.... Hummmm.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (2, Insightful)

guitarMan666 (1388859) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774719)

Exactly. In fact, to spite my college, I tend to release all papers to the public domain or a permissive license and then upload them to Archive.org or some such. I know for a fact that at my college (St. Petersburg College) all liberal arts students get to keep IP of their work. As a music major, this is very important to me. I feel that what you create at school is yours unless your college states explicitly otherwise in writing. It's not right to exploit students. Period.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (2, Interesting)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772903)

Students hold the copyright for papers they write and the art they make, I don't understand how code is any different.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773135)

The difference is, I think, that a lot of valuable software comes out of student's work, and this outfit wants to set a precedent that they own such work. It'll be interesting, however this works out.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

kandela (835710) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774019)

So, in summary: Science/technology is more valuable than art to cash hungry universities.

This sucks. Why should science/technology students not benefit from our creativity in the same way as those in the humanities? It almost seems like a denial of the value of creative input in technological disciplines.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774185)

So, in summary: Science/technology is more valuable than art to cash hungry universities.

This sucks. Why should science/technology students not benefit from our creativity in the same way as those in the humanities? It almost seems like a denial of the value of creative input in technological disciplines.

Well, I'm only guessing as to their motivations. It could be that they simply wish to avoid any future legal liabilities, or something else entirely. It does sound like a land-grab to me, though.

From a purely mercenary perspective, it's a lot easier to monetize a piece of useful software, or a new programming technique, that it is a student's work of art. And I agree: if the student does the work he or she should reap the benefits. As others have pointed out, depending upon the situation the school might have some claim, but demanding exclusive rights is a bit high-handed, I think.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (3, Informative)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774857)

Well, reading the article can give a clue as to Digipen's arguments:

However, Claude Comair begs to differ. Comair, who founded the privately owned DigiPen in 1988, is its president and one of its owners. He is also a co-founder of the Nintendo Software Technology Corp., a division of Nintendo of America.

"Our policy, which has been our policy since day one and which is laid out in our student agreement, is very clear -- everything that is done within the school and presented as homework or as a product to be judged by a teacher ends up being the property of the school. IP, code, artwork, everything," says Comair.

"And, as a matter of fact, in my opening speech, I tell students that if there is something dear to them, they should not present it as homework."

That policy, Comair explains, isn't a casual one and, he feels, it has helped the school avoid many problems, especially misunderstandings between DigiPen and the games industry.

"We are not here to compete with the games industry," he says. "We are not here for people to come and make a game in a less-expensive manner utilizing equipment and software that has student licenses."

"Just as importantly, we are not equipped to properly firewall our projects in the sense that we really don't know legally speaking how many or which students created which games. We don't know whether they received input from other students who have not been credited."

"These are just a few of the reasons why we have this policy," he adds, "but the bottom line is that DigiPen has never sold any of its students' games nor do we intend to. Nor have we made any exceptions for students who tried to convince us to do so. They have come to us with so many very creative arguments that I recently had to say to them 'Please don't come anymore. I have your best interests at heart and I want you to go find good jobs after you graduate. But I simply cannot make exceptions.'"

I can understand how students attempting to monetize projects could create a lot of issues for the school. Essentially, the school would take on liability, because the games were created with their software, computers, and resources. They just can't open themselves up like that.

That being said, it's pretty obvious that Digipen is pretty permissive about allowing a company to hire all students, and create a commercial version of a student project. This is exactly what happened with Portal, and it's been a fantastic boon (in terms of publicity) for Digipen. They'd be insane to come down on the wrong side of this issue, as it would negatively affect the employment prospects of its graduates, which would ultimately hurt them.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (2, Interesting)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773393)

Part of the situation here is the game may have been made with hardware & software provided by the school. I went to this school also, one of the first things they tell you is to leave your good game ideas at home. The person in this article obviously didn't pay attention very well.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774777)

So let me get this right, they pay to go to school so said school can keep their copyright?

It sounds like paying to go to work, no thanks.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773017)

I view universities as a service I pay for. Therefore anything I create at a university (unless employed to work on) should inherently become my property. Even if I use school resources to create the item (I'm paying for those services). The one situation that may change this is if my education is being subsidized, such as at a state college.

.
It would be - let us say - unusual - if your tuition and fees were covering all your school's expenses.

No less unusual if no part of that tuition was being subsidized by private and public donors - and the return they expect can only come from you.

Your promise to work diligently towards a degree and your express or implied promise to give something back to your school whenever you are able.

I view universities as a service I pay for.

I can't shake the feeling the the geek's sense of entitlement begins at birth.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773981)

last I checked those were tax exempt DONATIONS... to charity, not investments. If schools are accepting funding for student work, then first, I expect to be paid for my work, and second, I'd expect the university to pay income tax like a business and for those tax deductions to be taken away from business contributors.

They are paying for me to learn stuff... If I happen to learn something new and novel nobody else has learned then that should be mine.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773183)

The state subsidizes roads -- do they have an ownership stake in everything that passes over those roads?

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773557)

They certainly act like they do.

Re:Schools - A distorted reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25774255)

I know University of California takes the view that student created work is own by the student if it's being used for a academic evaluation. I have seen the copy right releases that the art students have to sign specifically allowing the works to be used by UC for anything after the class.

now the question is what does the case law if any, point to? if none all bets are off in court.

Taz

reminder about copyrights (3, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772135)

Just a reminder: it's really hard to pre-sign over copyrights to something except by being an employee of the institution in question. If these guys didn't sign a paper explicitly transferring the copyrights to the specific game then the institution doesn't own them. It might have a contract compelling them to sign the rights over. The contract might even be enforceable. But it doesn't -currently- own the copyrights.

Re:reminder about copyrights (4, Interesting)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772273)

Where I went to college they had a policy which you agreed to by enrolling, taking classes, and accepting credit; which said that anything you submitted for a grade or did because it was an assignment for a class you were taking was the school's property. Full stop. So they have in effect got a contract: your agreement to abide by the college's rules and regulations. Sure, it's a contract of adhesion, and the courts interpret these in the light most favorable to the person forced to agree. But fighting to overturn a clause in a contract is always tricky, and there's a significant chance you could lose.

Re:reminder about copyrights (2, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772643)

If they say it *is* their property, they have nothing. That's not an enforceable contract.

If they say you agree to sign it over to them, that *may* be an enforceable contract.

Don't go (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772147)

If you want to keep your IP, don't go to a school that will take your IP. They'll drive away talent, and before long they'll be irrelevant.

Re:Don't go (1)

Redfeather (1033680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772269)

So how exactly do you find out if you get to keep your IP if it's not in the policies? I'm certain this isn't something they want to advertise: "GammaGaming Collegiate; We'll Steal Your Ideas!"

Sure. Don't go if they're going to take your ideas, simple and straightforward. Except it's impractical, and there are a number of ways either party can get around such a stupilation; the studant claiming IP, the school claiming financed development and use of resources.

If anything, profit-sharing would be one of the few fair ways to escape the hassle of looking for a school with best practices it actually sticks to, or schools not alienating their own business base.

It's all well and good to say they're driving away their studants, but how many just-out-of-secondary school kids actually give two winks to IP rights discussions? No one lacking personal experience is that smart - unless they're incredibly well informed, or interested, in which case they're likely better of being an IP lawyer than a game designer.

Re:Don't go (1)

JeffAMcGee (950264) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772399)

I don't think there are any schools that don't claim your IP.

Re:Don't go (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772589)

Totally false. Penn State I'm pretty sure does not claim copyright on anything you do as an undergrad for instance (rather, the line is whether you're doing university-sponsored research, but I don't think this happens as undergrads much); my impression was that that's the norm, though maybe I'm mistaken. University of Wisconsin doesn't claim copyright on work you do even as a grad student (I'm pretty sure this even applies to things you do under the auspices of being a TA or RA, though I'm not positive), only patents on patentable things (and given that, they have some nice compensation arrangements). My impression is that this is unusual, but it's decidedly not unheard of.

Standard form contract (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772593)

There is such a thing as a standard form contract [wikipedia.org] . If all relevant players in an industry have the same requirement, then they don't "drive away talent" because there's nowhere else to drive the talent to. For example, which record label with access to FM radio promotion and retail distribution doesn't "drive away talent" by requiring its recording artists to hand over copyright in their recordings? You might as well have written this:

If you want to keep your IP, don't go to a school

Not all schools do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25774993)

The person you replied to made the perfectly valid point that not all schools require you to sign over your work. Most major research institutions only claim an interest in the research projects you work on (i.e., the ones where they provided the workstations and a research stipend), and don't claim an interest in your homework assignments, senior thesis, whatever.

Your argument that "but, but what if 'all relevant players in an industry have the same requirement'" is unfounded in reality. Please think before you type.

Re:Don't go (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772609)

Considering it's game development we're talking about, you can just as well ignore the schools since the degree isn't really interesting to your employer, they only care what skills you possess and the degree doesn't tell them anything about that. Since the degrees don't really make you more qualified than a self-taught person I don't think you even get better pay for having one. Better get a degree for a job where they actually care about degrees so you have a fallback career to go to once the game industry burns you out.

not cool (5, Interesting)

pdwestermann (687379) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772167)

isnt this the same as the school claiming to hold IP rights over all of the drawings I make in my art classes? i see no difference, but in that context it seems awfully ridiculous.

Re:not cool (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772239)

Kind of. I know its not uncommon for a school to own the patents arising from student research. I'd imagine that it really comes down to what the agreement was beforehand. If Digipen has changed their stance (or even just didn't sufficiently clarify it for students), then that's bad. If that's how it was going in, the students don't have anybody to blame.

Re:not cool (4, Interesting)

darrenbjohnson (870900) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772411)

Schools typically own patents arising from student research because the research was funded by the school. Having recently discussed this topic at my university I was told by the school lawyer that for the school to own the IP of something you do as a student you would have to have used significant school resources in the development. A significant resource doesn't include the use of computers. So basically if you didn't get paid to do the project and you didn't use any funding from the school it is yours. I think these kids should talk to a lawyer. Even if it is clearly stated in the schools policy that they own all IP, I think it's on questionable grounds. Im paying them for a service and in no way am I employed by the university. The only way they could own it is if they have a signed contract stating that I will sign over all ownership/copyright and I do proceed to sign it over.

Re:not cool (1)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774863)

Something I've always been curious about... Before I got my degree in CS, I was studying Real Estate (California, specifically) and one of the things that was drilled into us is that "A contract must be accompanied with consideration to be legally binding" or something close to that.

At the end of my CS career, my school required us to do a Senior Project in industry and in order to protect industry we had to give up all ownership we had in the project. This sort of set off alarm bells in my head because I was paying for the school's facilities, the teacher's salary, etc.. How could such a contract be enforceable if they weren't going to give a payment of consideration for the contracted work?

In the end the project I did was one which I had absolutely no interest in holding onto the IP, so it wasn't a bone of contention. But I really felt that the school couldn't deprive me of my creative works, even with a contract, unless they paid me something for it. So, can't a student ignore the IP claims by the school because the school cannot lay claim to the creative works of someone else without payment, regardless of the contract?

It is exactly the same... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772359)

At University of East London, they had exactly this argument at the Computer game design degree, and with the art department. One artist wanted to publish some work separately and was told that he should NOT submit it as coursework.

My solution, before you sign the paperwork for enrolment, create a company that you own, set up a contract with that company where you sign all of the rights for the work you create to the company, THEN sign the enrolment forms. Then the university would have the option of suing you as an individual for signing your enrolment papers, when you did not own the rights you were asked to sign away. But you will retain ownership of the work you created.

Note IANAL, and "This is a method that has not yet been tested in the courts of law". That said, when i checked up on this, i was told that the uni probably wouldn't sue, as they don't want to risk getting a precedent run against them. YMMV. Don't listen to me, get some proper legal advice instead.

Re:not cool (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772387)

Prolly falls under work-for-hire.

-uso.

Re:not cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773997)

How could it fall under work for hire if the students in the article were undergrads and were paying tuition to attend the college and work on a game? That's exactly the opposite.

Re:not cool (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774013)

most schools claim ALL IP... every home work assignment, every term paper, every drawing, lab result, etc. I think in reality they do that to cover their own butts... so that if a professor reuses it, or submits it for research they can't be sued... but if that was the case they'd write the agreement like Flickr where it's non-exclusive and they clearly want the product exclusive to them.

Might makes right (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772175)

I'm sad to have to finally admit it, but no matter how you slice it, in today's world, might always makes right.

You will always be outmuscled by a greedy bureaucracy, unless someone even bigger protects you.

Re:Might makes right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773177)

That's exactly how McCain got elected as the next US president, isn't it... bastards!

Dont go to "game" school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772193)

What a waste. Go to a university, get a BS in Computer Science and make your own games. You are going to a game school and making a game for that school. What do you expect?

Different schools have different placement (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772631)

What a waste. Go to a university, get a BS in Computer Science and make your own games.

And get whom to make the models, textures, maps, and audio? And then get whom to pitch the playable prototype to publishers?

You are going to a game school and making a game for that school. What do you expect?

At a game school, I would expect a game-oriented job fair, game development internships, and other ways of making contacts in the video game industry. The school where I earned a BS in computer science [rose-hulman.edu] didn't have that.

Re:Different schools have different placement (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773469)

And get whom to make the models, textures, maps, and audio? And then get whom to pitch the playable prototype to publishers?

You and friends?

People who have submitted their works as free artwork or whose copyrights have expired? Pay someone for them? Here's a fun idea, if I like a band's music, couldn't I help them get some recognition by paying them for songs to put in my game/project?

Of course your work will never be as good as a specialist. Then again, what the hell was expected? Did people like Valve look at the Portal concept and say "eww those models look like shit, next"?

"Game schools" are a joke. I wouldn't mind a class focusing on the developpement of a game (ie how to manage the whole process, not actually making them) but seriously specialising in a field where things change quickly enough (more if you're into consoles; I'm just talking SDK-wise here) and where the concepts can be figured out by yourself (how many of us did minigames at some point?).

University/college is not always the answer. You're wasting time in a class instead of being out on the field working, and you'll get less respect for that wasted time. (Can you show you're able to hold a job if all you've been doing could have been partying while following a joke of a program?)

Re:Different schools have different placement (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774005)

SDK's go through big changes only once every 4 years or so (sometimes less).
Most companies have an engine that will likely never change in large ways.

Re:Different schools have different placement (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774303)

And get whom to make the models, textures, maps, and audio? And then get whom to pitch the playable prototype to publishers?

You and friends?

Where do I find friends who share an interest in serious development of video games, other than possibly at a game school?

People who have submitted their works as free artwork

License incompatibilities plague free artwork. For example, works under Creative Commons, GPL, and GFDL are pairwise incompatible. Even Creative Commons Attribution License, the most permissive of the Creative Commons licenses, has significant practical problems stemming from the requirement to delete an upstream contributor's copyright notice upon notice from such contributor.

or whose copyrights have expired?

Copyrights don't expire anymore [wikipedia.org] .

Pay someone for them?

How would I get the money to pay someone to do work before I see a cent of income? And how would I get a cent of income if no publisher has yet shown an interest in the work?

Here's a fun idea, if I like a band's music, couldn't I help them get some recognition by paying them for songs to put in my game/project?

Too many of my favorite bands would charge at least one if not two orders of magnitude more than a new studio can afford.

Of course your work will never be as good as a specialist. Then again, what the hell was expected? Did people like Valve look at the Portal concept and say "eww those models look like shit, next"?

No, but what prompted Valve to look at Narbacular Drop in the first place to turn it into Portal?

work for hire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772201)

In a work for hire scenario, the one paying gets to keep the IP. But students pay the school in exchange for knowledge, so why does the school get to keep the students' IP?

It's easy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772207)

Don't sign contracts like that.

Undergrads vs graduate students (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772221)

Back in the '90s and before, most universities claimed IP rights only on work "done for hire" which included work done as an employee or a paid research or teaching assistant, or any work reasonably related to those duties but not work totally unrelated, not work by unpaid students, and not work that was pre-arranged for the rights to stay with the inventor.

I don't know what it's like now.

hardly surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772275)

I'm currently a PhD student at a UK university and my uni has already said they will take any commercially expliotable IP from me as and when I make it - you didn't think intellectual property was created to help producers did you? This is despite the fact that they are being paid to have me there!

still, for me, if the uni doesn't take my IP then the government will, but that's less common

Re:hardly surprising (2, Interesting)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772331)

I'm currently a PhD student at a UK university and my uni has already said they will take any commercially expliotable IP from me as and when I make it - you didn't think intellectual property was created to help producers did you? This is despite the fact that they are being paid to have me there!

still, for me, if the uni doesn't take my IP then the government will, but that's less common

I made it a condition on accepting my Ph.D offer (a UK university also) that any software/algorithms I developed were mine, and mine alone to exploit/patent/copyright, and that I would release everything under either the GPL or a BSD license. They agreed, after all, a Ph.D. student is worth a lot in grant money.

I don't know why more students don't do this, after all, if they disagree and lose you, they lose your grant money too.

Now I've got three years worth of code to clean up and release, which is going to take a few months, when I have the time.

Re:hardly surprising (1)

Mozk (844858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773467)

Hmm, I'm interested. What did you develop?

And that might sound sarcastic like I don't think that you really developed anything, but I'm actually curious.

relevant quote from article (4, Insightful)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772295)

Here's from the president and founder of DigiPen:

"I am not saying that we will not change in the future," he adds. "But, in order to do that, we need to talk to the industry to see what they feel would be best. Our program advisory committee is made up of the best of the best companies in the world. So far," he says, "they are very happy with our policy."

Yeah, I'm sure there's no bias on that board whatsoever!

Re:relevant quote from article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773953)

Fox guard chicken coop. I would sell the game to a company and let them thrash the school in court of law.

Permissive free software license (4, Insightful)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772367)

That's easy.
  1. Develop something at home with BSD License [wikipedia.org] .
  2. Continue developing in school using the same license.
  3. Get the grades.
  4. Fork a copy for commercial (private) development.
  5. ???
  6. Profit!

There goes my karma... and the schools will start agreeing with Steve Ballmer [wikipedia.org] too.

Re:Permissive free software license (3, Interesting)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772527)

A fun suggestion, but if a university does own the rights to your work, they could very simply disallow your contributions to be released under a given license (BSD in this case). You can't circumvent someone's ownership of something by transferring it to someone else. What you're suggesting here is the IP analogue of stealing something and claiming it's okay because you gave it to your friend (or the public; IP Robin Hood!).

Re:Permissive free software license (1)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772677)

I don't know that they care too much - I submitted all work (code+text) to my university under open source licenses for this purpose

Re-development from scratch (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772857)

... if a university does own the rights to your work, they could very simply disallow your contributions to be released under a given license (BSD in this case). ...

If the student re-develop the game from scratch for commercial sale, can copyright be circumvented?

No wonder the successful Web pioneers drop out of school! <g>

Re:Permissive free software license (1)

Mozk (844858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773517)

I think what the parent is suggesting is that if the university claims that works produced using school resources (such as computers) are the school's property, then a student producing works at home would retain his rights to his works. But if the university is suggesting that the knowledge he's receiving is somehow owned by the university and applying it to a work is therefore using school resources, they're full of bullshit.

Re:Permissive free software license (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774053)

I'd agree, they will call that plagiarism. Even though the work is your own, it's not original for the specific assignment. I know that's how they view work when you re-take classes or take classes that repeat assignments.. they want you to do original work and not "clean up" a paper you wrote for another class.

Re:Permissive free software license (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774063)

This sounds more to me like giving your soul to your wife, then when the Devil asks for it you say 'sure!" and get a free donut. Then when the devil demands your soul, he can't take it because you were already under contract with your wife.

This was an IGF winner (2, Informative)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772457)

The article fails to mention that Synaesthete [igf.com] won $2500 at the Independent Games Festival [igf.com] at the Game Developer's Conference in 2008. I wonder where the $2500 went? To the school? To the students? I guess it should go to the school since the school owns the game right? Or did they give it to the students because it is their game?

Re:This was an IGF winner (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772641)

What typically happens is that the students receive the money, but the school keeps the original award/plaques. DigiPen then makes copies of the very nice trophies for the respective students.

Meet with them privately and make a deal (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772473)

They don't want to set a precedent. Fine. Make them an offer, you buy the rights to your own game, perhaps for a nominal fee like a dollar, and then all parties involved sign non-disclosure agreements as to what the terms of the agreement were. They'd be smart to try to retain some equity in the game, might be a homerun, but still. IP law doesn't exist to stop the development of good idea, but to encourage them. Were they to actually go into court and argue the former, it's hard to see how they'd win.

Not as stringent as you might think... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772615)

Being a digipen student myself, I have a unique perspective.

EVERY digipen student is well aware of the school's copyright policies. This happens well BEFORE any development on school games begin. As such, we know FULL well that any game or assignment we turn in is the full copyright of digipen.

HOWEVER, having discussed this at length with various professors (and heads of the game department), there are ways around this.

1) Any game you develop completely outside of digipen is yours free and clear. Provided that you did not use school resources (software from school counts as a resource as a the software has specific academic licenses tied with it).

2) Any game that you work on outside of school for another company is yours free and clear. BUT, most companies have you sign contracts signing over the copyrights to those games anyway.

I have worked on multiple titles while at digipen, and am working on something for myself. BUT, since none of these were for digipen - my professors tell me quite clearly that digipen has no claim.

Personally, I am quite miffed at the students who are bent out of shape over this policy. We have all signed the papers to attend school. We have all paid our tuition. We have all sat through the same lengthy lectures regarding digipen's right to copyright.

Think of it this way, if digipen has the right to tell you what game content can go in your game to be turned in, then of course they're going to make sure they have the right to see what happens with that game.

Re:Not as stringent as you might think... (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25774103)

except that under academic rules you are require do do your own work, not develop other's ideas. Therefore any assignment you do should legally fulfill proper assignment of copyright to YOU unless they try to take it away. Therefore you are not sharing any IP from anybody else, only resources, which you are paying steep tuition for. That doesn't really grant them enough of a claim to the IP of what you did. I don't think College fits the consideration requirements wages, benefits, vacation time, etc. that an employer does... hell even trade associations like JDEC can't seem to make a binding contract on their members (the whole RAMBUS fiasco)

I think that "everybody does it" doesn't make it legally enforceable.. but they've got enough money behind them to keep a fair judgment from being made.

Don't use the school's resources (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25772627)

Unless you're an employee of the school, or use their equipment, you should own anything you do. Graduate students may be employees if they have an assistantship, but undergraduates usually are not.

I had some minor difficulties with Stanford over a similar issue in the mid-1980s. I was a Stanford student, wasn't using any Stanford equipment, and wasn't a Stanford employee. There was some huffing and puffing from the Stanford side, but they knew they had an unwinnable case. It worked out fine for me in the end. Stanford later changed their policy [stanford.edu] in that area, and I was told years later by a faculty member that I was partly responsible for that. The new policy is in some ways worse and in some ways better; Stanford wants a cut, but they'll help market the technology, and if they don't, the inventor gets it back. This is often a win for students. Stanford has very close connections with the Silicon Valley venture community and a track record in licensing technology. Stanford owns a piece of Sun, Cisco, Yahoo, and Google under this deal.

It's much worse if you're arguing over IP rights with some school that doesn't routinely do IP deals. The school administration is likely to be both overbearing and clueless.

Re:Don't use the school's resources (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773419)

I agree. However, when I was there they considered us employees. The person in this article was not very bright either, we were told to leave our good ideas at home so that the school would not own them. DigiPen also publishes some of the games to show off the talent of the students who go there.

Here's an idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772691)

Ok, so the school owns the copyright on that game, right? Ok, so how about they remake the game from scratch, with a new name, new artwork, new music, the works. The largest part of the initial work probably went towards things like planning and refining ideas. Now that they know what they want, it shouldn't be so hard to just remake it, just a bit differently and perhaps even better than before.

Companies make complete rip-offs of other games all the time, and no one gets sued for it, because the idea itself isn't copyrightable.

Contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772769)

Did you sign a contract? If no, the school doesn't own the copyright to anything you create in school, period. They may claim otherwise, of course, and they may try to bully you if you exert your rights, but don't let that fool you: unless you signed over your rights, you still have them.

same ripoff, get used (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25772779)

was at digipen in vancouver early on.. i left because of moral and integrity issues.. lies.. from comair. he created a sick climate, exploiting peoples ambition and making like he is an ally. quite good preparation for the jobs i had @ ea and elsewhere in that regard. i experienced abuse similar to that scene in the matrix where neos mouth gets sealed in an office by smith. sounds like the same arm waving applies. any school that sandbags students sucks

Just recode it (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773001)

If it's a student project then you probably put, what, 2 days of effort into it? You're a geek with youth on your side, and you've probably written 100x as much code for your own amusement than you've written for a stupid assignment/competition.

Just recode it. You'll do it better the second time, anyway, and copyright doesn't cover ideas, just implementations.

Re:Just recode it (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25775109)

The project in question was probably for the game class, which lasts 3 months unless it was a double semester project in which case that becomes 6 months.

IP Belongs to the students (1)

Blittzed (657028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773071)

At the Australian University I work for, and I believe it is the same for all, the students retain the IP for any creative work they produce. This applies to both undergrad and postgrad students, but interestingly, does NOT apply to staff. However, a recent law suit saw an Academic sue the Univeristy he worked for over a patent realting to a drug he created. The court found in his favour stating that acedmics are empoyed to conduct research, and not to invent. From the judgment "...a duty to research does not carry with it a duty to invent". http://www.managingip.com/Article/1922287/Australian-court-highlights-university-patent-dangers.html/ [managingip.com]

The rights may not be the issue ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773395)

The institutions that I have attended and worked for clearly stated that the copyrights belong to the student. End of story.

Yet the university may have the right to prevent publication on other grounds. Even though the aforementioned universities said that the students own the rights to their own work, they also claimed that worked created using their computing facilities could only be used for the advancement of the university's mission. Those policies aren't there to force students to forefit their rights. They are there to prevent the abuse of limited resources. (And, as someone previously mentioned, the university may have contractual obligations through software licensing agreements.) So while the university's assertion does seem to be unreasonable in this context, it is quite probably reasonable under most circumstances.

If the students did, and can prove, that the game was entirely created with their own computing resources (i.e. they did not use school computers, or software that was licensed to them through the school), it is quite probable that the school wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Unfortunately, even if that was the case, it would be quite difficult to prove.

Re:The rights may not be the issue ... (1)

saethone (1032546) | more than 5 years ago | (#25773811)

Why should the student need to prove this? It seems to me in this case that the burden of proof should be on the university that the student did use their resources in the generation of said software.

The Portal Example (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773413)

I'm a freshman at Digipen right now, and I see nothing wrong with the way they go about copyright. If you are using THEIR resources to make your game, then it feels fair that they hold the rights to your game. Not to mention, it keeps the students from getting sewed for trying to sell something that was made using software that was only licensed for educational use(which is the primary reason for this whole copyright thing that Digipen has).

If you really want to market your game, do what the Portal kids did. They made an amazing portal puzzle game as their Digipen final project, and then re-used the idea, with a new implementation and new code base, to make Portal.

not-commercializing student work is good policy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25773787)

Having been a Digipen student I have to say that the school is very demanding and the game classes take a tremendous effort to complete. Too many students don't know how to pace themselves to keep their academic classes balanced with their game class. There is a lot of pressure from your teammates to make a great game. If you added to that the temptation of fame and fortune I have no doubt the academic program at the school would collapse. I'm sure this is a big reason behind this policy at the school.

Not to mention that the last thing the school needs are student teams trying to figure out how to split profits from their game when they "hit it big". There are legal quagmires that most students don't realize they would be walking into. These projects are never done solo.

Not every student project can be the next Portal (which was a re-write of a DigiPen project taken up by Valve) but I'm sure there are a lot of students who are hoping that they can be. This policy is there to protect them from failing out of their academic classes and taking their teammates with them. I've seen this happen and I hope they understand that there is time after school for starting their game business.

FullSail's different... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25775099)

I'm in the film program at Fullsail, and I do know that anything you create their is yours (or anybody on your crew) to do whatever you want with - Sell it, show it, or whatever.

It probably works the same way in their game dev dept. as well.

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