I am making a game that has many U.S. landmarks. Do I need permission to use the name and my own image of a landmark (Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore, Times Square)?
The short general answer is no especially when you are merely using these names to refer to them specifically. Using images however can be a problem unless you properly license those images like from a stock photo site like Getty or iStock. Just because you are referring to Time Square for example does mean you can use any image you find of it.
You are going to have a number of legal considerations before you launch this venture so I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
If you're just using the names, then you'll be fine. However, as has been pointed out, you need a business lawyer advising you on this venture. Choosing a limited liability entity, purchasing insurance, getting all the proper protection for your original intellectual property, protecting trade secrets, hiring employees, offering benefits, and much more, all are issues that you will need to address in your new business. They don't have to be difficult, and some can be addressed without an attorney, but you should at least have one that you trust advising you every step of the way. That's the best way to protect a business.
This answer is not "legal advice" and should not serve as a substitute for the advice of an attorney who is licensed in your applicable jurisdiction. The statements provided herein are for informational purposes only and the recipient of these answers assumes all risk and expressly agrees to seek the advice of the appropriate counsel for his or her situation. Should any formal legal advice be sought, the recipient should contact our law firm at the appropriate phone number or email address.
No, as long as the images were your own, either photographed or drawn by you will not need permission. Please note that if you plan on using someone else's photograph or drawing, or if your image was an adaptation (called a derivative work) of someone else's photograph or drawing, then you will need permission of the copyright holder or you will be liable for infringement. I suggest that you retain an experienced Copyright/IP attorney to counsel you in private.
For more detailed advice, I recommend that you contact an experienced Copyright/IP attorney to advise you in confidence about your options and potential costs. Many IP specialty firms, like ours, offer an initial free conference by telephone, video conference or in person if you are available locally and would be happy to speak with you. Call and speak with an experienced Copyright/IP attorney who can assist you.
Mr. Sack's postings on Avvo are of a general nature, based on the facts provided and are not intended to be taken as legal advice or to establish an attorney-client relationship.
The Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Rushmore are both, at least arguably "architectural works" and you taking your own pictures of these works, by themselves, because they are visible from a public place, generally, would not be copyright infringement.
However, as anyone who has ever watched the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve knows, there are and may be a lot of people, signs, images, advertisements, trademarks, and copyrighted subject matter in or around Times Square. Thus, there may be many issues related to rights of publicity, possible trademark infringement, possible copyright infringement etc., even if you take your own photos of Times Square, depending on what you exactly take a photo of and what you intend to do with the photos.
You should discuss these issues with an intellectual property attorney. Many intellectual property attorneys, such as myself, have free initial telephone consultations.
Legal Disclaimer- the information provided herein is not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney / client relationship. Although effort has been made to ensure that the answers are correct, Law Office of Walter Tencza Jr. cannot and does not offer any warranty, express or implied that the answers contained are accurate statements of law. This document is provided for informational purposes only. Viewers must not act upon any information without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney outside the context of this document.
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