Video Game Schools Claim Ownership Of Games Created By Students

from the your-first-lesson-in-copyright... dept

An anonymous reader submitted an interesting article about a growing controversy among students at various video game universities, over who owns the copyrights to the games developed by students. The well known DigiPen Institute, for example, makes it clear that all work created by students is actually owned by DigiPen, and this is upsetting some students. Even though DigiPen makes this clear (and even tells students not to submit anything they "hold dear"), it seems troubling for a variety of reasons. It makes little sense for DigiPen to retain the copyrights here. It is quite different than when someone is working for a commercial company and developing games for them as an employee. With DigiPen, these are students who are paying to learn to create video games. As someone notes, if you paint a painting in art school, the copyright doesn't belong to the art school.

DigiPen's reasoning does not make much sense, either, claiming that it needs to do this to "avoid misunderstandings" between DigiPen and the gaming industry. However, it does not explain what those misunderstandings would have been. The whole thing seems questionable, and as some folks note in the article, diminishes DigiPen's reputation. First of all, it likely does (as it should) scare off some of the better prospective students, who fear having DigiPen "own" their creations. Secondly, the way the program is structured, it makes it that much harder to learn if the school itself is telling students not to actually make use of their best ideas.

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  1. identicon
    Woody Green, 24 Nov 2008 @ 10:31pm

    Common school rule

    All students should look in their handbooks. Anything you hand in as an assignment (homework, thesis, program, etc...) becomes property of the school. Contrary to a previous post, at least at the university I attended, only that which you did as part of your school work (or job if you were employed by the school) or that done on behalf of the school by you is owned by them. I would imagine that a court would not enforce anything done not related to your attending the school itself.

    Many schools use this very same rule to prevent you from reusing your own work in multiple classes. To turn it in twice (different assignments/classes) is plagiarism (against the schools copyrighted work). If someone else uses your homework, the school considers it plagiarism against their copyright.

    Right or wrong, for better or worse, those are the rules and are made known to you when you sign up (read those silly papers and handbooks they give you). You can always go somewhere else (vote with your dollars and feet).

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