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
    Steve, 24 Nov 2008 @ 6:08pm

    My 2 Cents

    As an alum of Digipen (2004), I've wrestled with this issue too. The policy as I understood it was that we could not use any art or code in our projects that the school couldn't claim ownership of. Sigh, programmer art is the worst. The school now archives and distributes all my old student projects from their website, and it's my guess that they needed to claim ownership of it to avoid all the headaches that could result from a student who wanted to make an exception to this policy. As far as I know the school has never published any of the games for profit and I'm very OK with them owning the rights to my student projects as long as they give it away for free and put my name on it, as they do. The school doesn't have the kind of endowments that many other universities enjoy and it overall very chep for the excelent education that one gets there. Let them have the licenses and quit bitching I say! They do a lot for getting the students some industry connections and real jobs.

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