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  1. #1
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    Thieving Employers?

    I've been thinking about this scenario.
    You get in contact with a potential employer. You're asked to present concepts and ideas for, let's say a video game.
    You make your pitch. A few days later you get a call informing you that you're not needed, or something along these lines.

    A year later the game is released. On the promotional material something catches your eye.
    What's this? It's the very same concept you presented at your pitch!

    Am I just paranoid or do these things actually happen? What can you do in such an event?

    Please discuss.

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    Too bad you can't copyright idea, isn't it?

    Before you work on the "specific" concepts sketch and ideas for the potential employer, did they pay you for doing that? Like provide you at least a work for hire contract and payment for the concept sketch for what they "specific" looking for?

    Make sure at least get pay for drawing out the specific concept idea.

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    Have it Copywritten. You cant copyright ideas that are not recorded. Duh. That would be very unprofessional on your behalf.

    Found this. Hope it puts your paranoia to rest.
    http://www.ehow.com/how_18267_copyri....html?ref=fuel

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    Quote Originally Posted by Micaiah Nelson View Post
    Have it Copywritten. You cant copyright ideas that are not recorded. Duh. That would be very unprofessional on your behalf.
    Um. International Copyright Laws state that once you create something, it is copyrighted to you. Now, proving creation before somebody walked off with it is another matter so it's always good to send it off to the feds. But still, that doesn't mean it magically isn't yours 'cause you haven't paid a fee for it yet.

    Hunter Killer_: There's a couple of things I would do in that employeer situation.
    #1 Watermark
    #2 Send in any works in a neat little pdf or similar setup wherein the viewer has to go through Page One and it's legal jargonese: Viewing of this file consitutes argeement to these terms wherein Artist owns rights to work, work cannot be disclosed to other parties, blahblah--you get the idea.
    #3 Do work similar to what the employer is looking for, but not their exact specifications. I've done that a couple of times, actually. You want a sample that I can do a cutesy girlie style comic and here's your script? Okay, I'll do that style...in my own story.

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    I'd be very surprised if that ever happens with a legit company of any size. It's just not worth the hassle to deal with and it's much easier to just pay the artist. Of course it never hurts to protect yourself. People can see samples of your work, and you might do a few rough sketches before sealing a new job (and always make sure your contact info is on everything you send so they don't accidentally forget where a particular image came from), but don't do anything more than that without a contract.

    Of course, there isn't much you can do about similar ideas. If you pitch a crab walker tank, and they end up using a crab walker tank of another design, that's just how it goes.

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    Pretty much all video game studios refuse to even let people pitch ideas to them because in case they make a similar idea, they dont want to get sued.

    People who pitch ideas, pitch their ideas to publishers, in order to secure funding for their studio. Publishers do not produce games directly, and they certainly aren't going to go hire a studio to create an idea they just heard about from someone else. Simply doesnt happen. Ideas practically always come from within studios.

    Your scenario wouldn't happen.

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    Sadly, this happens alot. My only experience is from talking with some guys that did business with marketing companies. In their experience about 2/3 of their pitches gets ripped off. The only advice they had was to not give your pitch material, unless you feel that the investment is worth it and could land you the project.

    Also you can say alot about sueing after something like this happenend. But what kind of impact would that have on your future clients?

    Publishers do not produce games directly, and they certainly aren't going to go hire a studio to create an idea they just heard about from someone else. Simply doesnt happen. Ideas practically always come from within studios.
    I'm sorry, but no. The majority of the game industry (serious gaming) simply does this, and in the entertainment sector of the business their are enough stories about this. Even in my own experience I made a game proposal, that was succesfully pitched, and then given to another studio that was attached to the publisher.

    Just as an example to show you how publishers take ideas from one place, and let a studio under their care make the game. Check out Nintendogs and what happpend there. It was released and shortly after that there was Dogz, Catz, Tigerz, Dolphin Island, baby care stuff, Horsez, etc.

    If you are a small studio and a publisher comes around and says "make me a game as nintendogs but then different" most small studios will do it because it means income.

    Last edited by Duq; March 23rd, 2008 at 08:17 AM.
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    But then Nintendogs was inspired in part by Creatures and Tamagotchis and their descendants. There has been casual babysitting games on pc for ages too. Very few games are trully original. And it's possible to have similar ideas at the same time independently when you get inspred by the same body of work (aka the Newton vs Leibniz syndrome)

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    Nintendogz is a bad example, but Duq is right, this happens quite a lot.

    Its often the reason for similar movies coming out at the same time. So a marketing group pitches a volcano movie idea to a couple companies. One might buy it and start making it, while another might just make a just different enough volcano movie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duq View Post
    Just as an example to show you how publishers take ideas from one place, and let a studio under their care make the game. Check out Nintendogs and what happpend there. It was released and shortly after that there was Dogz, Catz, Tigerz, Dolphin Island, baby care stuff, Horsez, etc.

    If you are a small studio and a publisher comes around and says "make me a game as nintendogs but then different" most small studios will do it because it means income.
    Besides the fact that Dogz and Catz came out a full ten years before Nintendogs, that example isn't what HunterKiller was talking about. Copying a popular formula isn't the same as stealing actual concepts from a pitch. The company I work at pitches a shitload of games, but I've never heard of an actual concrete example of a pitch being stolen.


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    I had a long reply for Duq, but I decided a summary would be best. Marketing is very different. Rightful lawsuits are not looked upon poorly. Your stories are not a credible source and I dont believe your story about someone stealing your pitch and making it. More likely is that your idea was fairly generic and another studio working on a similar idea just happened to have the same publisher that you pitched to.

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    Point #1: ideas ain't worth crap
    Point #2: if you're good enough to rip off, you're good enough to hire.


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  17. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by aesir View Post
    I had a long reply for Duq, but I decided a summary would be best. Marketing is very different. Rightful lawsuits are not looked upon poorly. Your stories are not a credible source and I dont believe your story about someone stealing your pitch and making it. More likely is that your idea was fairly generic and another studio working on a similar idea just happened to have the same publisher that you pitched to.
    I never said it was stolen. I worked on a concept, was pitched, concept given to a studio with more experience. That was the feedback we got from our publisher. Ofcourse there was some payment, and we got another project about an excisting IP developed by another studio attached to the same company. I'm sorry that you dont believe it, but in small studios that are linked to one agent/publisher this just happens at times. I'm not talking about stealing here, just saying that your idea about how ideas are only made in gamedesign studios is wrong. I even know some freelance gamedesigners who make their money from creating gamedesigns concepts and selling them to studio's.

    About the guys that worked with the marketing companies, they where a serious gaming company. They would be asked to create a concept for a certain marketing campaign, the would go and pitch it, leave the pitch material for internal review, and then find out later that a known competitive studio with lower prices would be making the exact concept. This didnt happen just a few times, but alot.

    About the lawsuits. Do you think that specific company might ever work with you again? Do you think they might suggest associates to ever work with you? Lawsuits are long, and painfull especially considering this stuff. About the guys in the paragraph, they didnt go for a lawsuit for that exact reason, any work they lost to that marketing company they got returned from redirects from the same marketing company. They simply called it networking investments. Getting invited to one party could often hold more money from new clients then they would get from a lawsuit for example.

    Serious gaming (marketing games included) might be different then what CA is focussed on. But the last stats I saw showed that it was a bigger workingfield then entertainment games in this country. And since marketing companies are some of the best paying clients in the serious gaming field, you deal with them alot. Even MB has marketing work in their portfolio

    In the end these are just my experiences, and you can take them as you like. But stating that someone will never encounter these scenario's is simply being ignorant.

    Besides the fact that Dogz and Catz came out a full ten years before Nintendogs, that example isn't what HunterKiller was talking about. Copying a popular formula isn't the same as stealing actual concepts from a pitch. The company I work at pitches a shitload of games, but I've never heard of an actual concrete example of a pitch being stolen.
    The Dogz thing was more towards Aesirs comment that studio's practically always develop original ideas in house, not about entirely new ideas ending with someone else. It could also have been God of War and Heavenly Sword for example.

    And yeah it doesnt really apply to Hunterkiller. Also I will be honest, I have never heard of an entertainment game being pitched, and then being stolen by the publisher.

    Last edited by Duq; March 23rd, 2008 at 07:01 PM.
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    Thanks for explaining things a bit better. Im not going to get into arguing other points because Im lazy.

    Heres a helpful article for the orginial poster http://www.gamasutra.com/view/featur...ellectual_.php

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Point #1: ideas ain't worth crap
    Point #2: if you're good enough to rip off, you're good enough to hire.
    your point #1 is true
    Point #2 is debatable,
    I had one of my "ideas" stolen(for lack of a better term) by an overseas company- they were in need of some Flash game artwork and concepts- Made a pitch of an idea, attached some basic sketches...got paid for the sketches,..and then the project was handed off to an Indian studio, because they had an entire team working on the same budget they would have to pay...me..alone...
    The project manager, made it very clear that I was to be the lead art director on the project if I could make my rates compete with Indian pay rates;meaning, he was willing to pay me $5 USD per concept, and $10 per finished artwork-
    So...I was good enough to get hired, I was just NOT in the budget...

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  20. #16
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    If you got paid for the sketches, your ideas weren't stolen. That's a different situation from what HunterKiller was proposing in his original post.

    Last edited by Elwell; November 11th, 2012 at 12:24 AM.

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    If someone had meet such an a thing, as working for employer finishing a job after two years been asked to do a jobin in same field but not the same job just with some one else, once done with that resivin' a grettin card over blured and cropped of piecces that i did just two ears ago meved from one of the other (from the fresh one so said), i though that's a thastles joke at first....
    Makes me wonder is that a commen way to say bye bye or was that a sort of will to abuse?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Yuki_slider View Post
    If someone had meet such an a thing, as working for employer finishing a job after two years been asked to do a jobin in same field but not the same job just with some one else, once done with that resivin' a grettin card over blured and cropped of piecces that i did just two ears ago meved from one of the other (from the fresh one so said), i though that's a thastles joke at first....
    Makes me wonder is that a commen way to say bye bye or was that a sort of will to abuse?
    Holy crap what does this post mean???

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    Thieving employers? I use napalm. And small children.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Falchion View Post
    Thieving employers? I use napalm. And small children.
    You napalm the children, then get them to run through the employer's offices, lighting as much on fire as you can... It's a great strategy.

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    Holy weird thread resurection batman!
    And in a strangely related way, here's what publisher Mumbo Jumbo dealt with the situation, they convinced Apple to remove a competing game from the app store (even if the competing game was released BEFORE their ownj game)
    http://codeminion.com/blogs/maciek/2...pple-appstore/ The app store is dodgy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ookchk View Post
    Holy crap what does this post mean???

    Good I thought I was the only one who didnt understand that post.

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    Starcraft Marines look like Warhammer 40k Space Marines, Starcraft Zerg look like Geiger's Alien, also like Warhammer 40k Tyranids. You don't even need to pitch it to them for them to steal it. Unless the idea is something so totally out there and different so that someone couldn't possibly come up with it on their own, or you can specifically prove that your art was used there's not much you can do about it... unless you are big enough to wield the might of an impressive army of law firms, then you can sue the pants off of someone even when they didn't steal your work.

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  30. #24
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    If you work for an employer, technically the stuff you do there is work-for-hire. You don't own any of those copyrights. You're a wrist, a set of hands hired for your skills. Unless you have something in writing that says that those concepts and ideas are solely yours- I don't think you have a legal leg to stand on. And let's just say that an employer does steal some of your ideas, you have to be able to go to court to PROVE they stole your ideas & concepts. All they have to do is say that they already had something like this in the works and yours was coincidental. Proving originality is such such the tough thing to do.

    I wish I had an answer for this dilemma. Ideally everyone would have some integrity but alas this is the world we live in.

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    Thinking about this kind of stuff makes me cringe. I remember someone posting a site that dealt with people stealing ideas blatantly not too long ago in the Lounge
    It happens more than most people might think....

    What would be a good way to prove something is originally yours?
    I cant really think of any surefire ways to do it
    What am I supposed to sit in front of my TV and take a picture of my piece next to the weather channel or something that shows the date I made it?
    (weird example but stuff like screen capturing wouldn't work because you can change the date on your computer)

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    DreamWorks actually ripped off a couple of swedish animators when making Bee Movie. They'd pitched their concept for them and I think DreamWorks told them no. Then a year later they make their own movie with the same concept of talking bees living in a bee city who then discovers their honey is being stolen by humans...

    Last edited by tobbA; November 1st, 2009 at 10:45 AM.
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    I have quite a fear about arranging a portfolio, send it to few studios, get a ripoff from a couple of it, and then, when both games are released, a legal battle between them for intelectual rights, when them both ripped the original idea from anywhere.

    I know, I´m paranoid.

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    If you truly have a million dollar idea, which is much rarer than one may think or prefer, and want to do something with it, don't pitch it to a game company you don't work for yet. It is very unlikely that the pitch would amount to anything, and in the rare case that the pitch inspired something, you will not get any credits because 1/ it's hard to prove a company has ripped you off and 2/ most of the time it's not going to be a direct rip-off, and inspiration/references are perfectly acceptable in the game industry.

    In fact... I'm having a hard time imagining game companies asking you for a pitch at all to determine whether they want to hire you. If you are an artist they'll maybe give you an art test. If you are a designer they might give you script test or design test. It might depends on the company and the position you are going for, but it's very unlikely you'll get to do something with completely no restrains and score a job with it.

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    this kind of stuff happens all the time in the toy industry....
    sad but true

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    Is it very frequent for employers to rip off artists?
    I am looking for a comic book artist and don't want to have issues finding someone for lack of trust...

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