COMPUTER GAMES – PART II 

25.05.2017

A successful modern computer game is a combination of imaginative storytelling, graphic arts, computer programming, and perhaps even music. Rarely will your talents cover all of these, so game development will usually be a group effort. Whether you choose this to be the form of a joint venture with one or more others having  the skills you lack, you will eventually need to deal with ownership of intellectual property. People you hire may be employees in the traditional sense or independent contractors. In any event, it is essential that you assure that you will own the IP you will have paid for.

There are different rules for employees and independent contractors and from country to country. There are default rules that apply in the absence of a contract, and even when there is an employment agreement, there will be limitations as to what can go in it. There are also different rules for different kinds of IP. In this second part of our three-part series, we will introduce you the important issues related to IP ownership. You saw the different kinds of creativity involved in game development, e.g., storytelling, graphic arts, computer programming, and perhaps even a composer/lyricist.

If your talents cover all of these, you are surely a rare individual. More likely, you will need help in at least one of these areas.

Help can come in the form of a joint venture with one or more others having  the skills you lack. Or you can form your own business and hire people to work for you, either as employees in the traditional sense or as independent contractors. In the case of a joint venture, there will be an agreement defining the business relationship and will most likely provide that all IP will be owned by the business.

If you decide to go it alone, you must make sure that the work created by the people you hire will belong to your company. That will, of course, also apply to the joint venture option when the time comes for it to add employees. As we will demonstrate below, the basic rules are different for employees and independent contractors and from country to country. There are default rules that apply in the absence of a contract, and even when there is an employment agreement, there will be limitations as to what can go in it. There are also different rules for different kinds of IP. You will need to take account of all these issues.

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