Who Says You Have the Right?

He’s telling us that he forgot to attribute the picture again :rofl:


Since Sean created the game the picture was stolen from in the first place, I doubt that he needs to attribute anything. :smiley:


Interesting choice of words…

It is an interesting legal point though a somewhat fuzzy one as legalities around visual art can be.

If people make derivative works from their own screenshots of the in-game environments, who owns the copyright to the screenshots?
(The screenshot in question is definitely (I believe) copyright of HG, since it is a set piece they created as part of the lore.)

The game engine (HG) procedurally creates the environments on planets that we xeno-photographers snap pictures of, but we are the ones choosing the point of view, creating the composition, and effectively creating the art that is the screenshot.

For example, from the road --not encroaching on their physical property-- I take a photograph of a barn in a farmer’s field, who owns the photo – me? or the farmer who built the barn? And who owns the painting I make using that photograph as a reference?

(I’m seeing possible thread-creep ahead) :wink:


Yeah maybe the alien types, possible story expansion…

Or is it a count down…3…2…1


Copyright of screenshots is kind of moot. The game itself let’s you “play” with shots using filters. I think that a good equivalent of Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA is ideal. Remix & share, give attribution, but not for commercial use.


Regardless of what they could leagally do if they wanted to be mean, Hello Games have already given their policy on audience use of their IPs. From the HG blog which can be found here http://www.hellogames.org/blog/page/10

“Feel free to make videos of our games on Youtube or Twitch or wherever else! And hey, go crazy and monetize them with adverts and such, as long as you include your own content as well, like audio commentary or music!”

It’s why I’ve never been worried about monetizing my Youtube content on No Man’s Sky (I read all of their old blogs in the old days during the backlash of the launch, which contributed to me starting my channel of positive content about them to counteract all the negative).


That one is very clear: You own all the rights to the picture, period. The only limitation on that is if the picture includes the farmer himself, in which case he may claim objection to publicising the image (and also, strictly speaking, you’d have had to ask for his permission to photograph him in the first place), but not any actual rights on the picture.
This even applies to automated capture, and to contract work you get payed for if not otherwise negotiated in the contract by the way. I’m working in a company that works in construction site documentation and timelapse photography, and we own all the millions of pictures our cameras are taking out there, no matter what’s on them.

Where it gets fuzzy is only the point where we move the whole concept into a virtual space. If it is important to a product, they usually solve this by offering clear licensing conditions. Most software for content creation have such a kind of license: Image editing programs, 3d software, movie editing software, you name it. And, a bit closer to home, Space Engine for example has a special license for when you intend to use imagery, videos or presentations made using it for commercial purposes too.

If the product does not follow “standard” content creation tool licensing practices, it’s “all rights reserved” by default, though the fair use clause then comes into play and makes things terribly murky again. Not to bash the intent of the fair use clause, I just think it’s bound to lead to problems if the foundation of the law is “all rights reserved, period”, and then you put another law on top of it saying “well, except in instances when…”. I think a lot of the hassle about fair use could be avoided if it would actually be a fixed limitations on all rights reserved, rather than an addendum…

In any case, since the lawyering quickly gets too complicated for anybody wishing to get anything done, it is very common practice for small studios to just avoid it all together and handing out a general free beer license in a public statement.

Where it will get interesting is when procgen gets advanced enough that very small developers (one man teams and such) will be starting to use procedurally generated content from games as background graphics or similar in their own, smaller games, because when direct competition is involved, there’s a whole lot of other legal mechanisms kicking in…


Unless it is Google Maps who captured the image. :smiley:
It is interesting that, it really depends on the viewpoint of the people involved. Sometimes these so-called infringements, bring about good results.


…and then there was the guy who sued google for publishing a map that included a shot of him weeing uh… watering… on the bushes in his yard. :upside_down_face:

This whole copyright/intellectual property discussion thing is fascinating. Perhaps we should split this part off into its own thread?


Carry on :grinning:


Again… interesting choice of words for the title. Well done! :heart: :+1:

I have decided to send a note to HG asking how they would view (or what kind of permissions they would give for the off chance that someone would want to purchase a painting for which I used the procedurally generated planetary landscape as a reference image for an interpretive painting.

At the moment I am using my own screenshots of in-game environments as reference images for interpretive direct painting acrylics studies (on 5x7-inch canvas panels) while waiting for my studio to be finished and ready to go back to my regular painting sessions.

I am a professional landscape painter (also abstracts). I love the landscape in NMS --so beautiful! So you can see where my own interest is in this subject.

During the discussion on this thread, I thought of the possibility of approaching a more modern-minded gallery about the possibility of them hosting a show of my paintings inspired by computer game environments.

I wonder how HG will respond…


Interesting debate.

Just outside Brussels, there’s a place called Heysel. In 1958 it was the site of the World’s Fair, which included a spectacular building called the Atomium. I went there a couple of years ago, and took photographs.

The thing is, the Belgian government has claimed copyright on all pictures of the Atomium. Even when they’re taken from a public place (well, it’s visible for miles). Technically, these photographs are illegal.

I’m not sure what status the Belgian law has in other countries - it’s not possible to copyright a public view here in the UK.

You can read about the Atomium’s copyright status here:


I hope they allow NMS in Belgian prisons. :grin:
Oh wait, I didn’t ask your permission to use your face on that pic, did I? But then it’s not really your face is it? :grinning:


He was perfectly in his rights to sue them for that. Actually, everybody finding themselves in an image they didn’t agree to publicising is within their right demanding removal of the image, or at least removal of their likeness from the image, under GDPR (One reason the company I work for is giving the competition a hard time currently is because we can automatically remove moving objects from images, making publication a lot less trouble).

If you painted the entire thing by hand, it doesn’t even qualify as “derivative work”. So you’re perfectly in the green there. You may get into trouble if your work resembles or represents iconic scenes or objects that are primarily associated with a commercial product, but in that case you’d either be facing charges of trademark violation or plagiarism, not infringement on copyright. And it only really happens if you’re mass-producing your product, unless some copyright troll marks you.


I forgot to mention above as a caveat to point 1: This does not apply if you gave away the rights to publish an image accidentally. Like for example posting it on facebook. If you post it there, it’s public domain. If it was posted by someone else, you basically have to sue them or you’ll loose the right to protest if anybody ever uses it for something you don’t agree with. No idea about other sites like pinterest et al.


Thank you very much for your input!

So if I paint my ship or a character model into the scene, or even a specific game object --like a portal, a building, a storm crystal, a ship, etc. I better get permission from HG if anyone wants to buy it.

Again, thank you. :heart:

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Considering this is HG, as long as you’re not mass-producing anything, I just wouldn’t bother them. I mean, people are selling mass-produced merch with the bloody NMS logo on it and they don’t bat an eyelash, so they obviously don’t give a damn.

Even if they would be very strict with things like that, they’d have a really hard time suing you over procedural starships or a portal that they basically ripped of from stargate themselves appearing in a unique painting… Just don’t worry about it.