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.

Filed Under: intellectual property, video games
Companies: digipen


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  1. identicon
    Nathan, 26 Sep 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Educational Liscenses

    This is pretty much a year late, but I just found it. Wow. I'm suprised nobody's brought up that Digipen uses educational licenses for most of their software. Under the license agreement that the school (and you, if you decide to purchase an educational license yourself) agree to, you are not allowed to use what you create with said software for commercial purposes.

    Digipen retains the rights to software and art created by its students to prevent them from trying to sell it. At first glance that seems pretty harsh. But consider this, even if Digipen did not retain the copyrights, the student is still legally not supposed to sell it. If you do, and if it is discovered, you put yourself in the direct sights of legal action by the software company whose software you used to create the product.

    Digipen is not being evil and unreasonable, it's actually trying to protect its students from legal action. There is no provision in Digipen's student agreement that prevents students from buying professional licenses and working on their own projects at home. I should know, I happen to attend. There are no provisions preventing you from using your work in portfolios while seeking jobs. As a matter of fact, Digipen actually actively assists students in getting internships, and the last time I checked our job placement rate was over 90%.

    This whole thing is a lot of hot air about nothing. Key point: even if Digipen did not hold the copyrights you still couldn't sell it, and you'd be possibly royally screwed if you tried.

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