Who Owns The Copyright to my Video Game Photography
Who owns the copyright to your in-game photography captures? You do! But unfortunately, it’s not quite as clear cut as that. You may own the copyright to the actual capture, but the video game is a commercial asset to the publisher and subject to Intellectual Property (IP). So, in turn, almost everything within the in-game photo mode you capture is subject to its own set of copyright, license and IP rules.
Photo Mode in Games
I hear some people say, “But the game has a built-in photo mode”. And sure. Developers are now building these photo modes into their games specifically for the sole purpose of taking and creating amazing images. But, right now, it just seems to be this massive grey area. You have which seem to be overlapping areas of interest. On the one hand, you have the IP of the Publisher, and on the other hand, you have the in-game photographer making amazing photographs of what is the IP. It’s a pretty confusing never-ending circle of confusion and arguments on both sides, and the industry needs to catch up.
Is In-Game Photography Classed as Derivative?
I class Virtual in-game photography as Derivative work. Explained simply, this boils down to work being based on a previous work. While there is such a sufficient amount of change to the new work that it is now entitled to copyright of its own. To me, this is the closest definition of in-game photography as it stands right now in 2022.
This is where I think virtual in-game photography sits at the moment. But it’s still in this no-mans-land where there’s nothing much you can do with it other than enjoy the process and keep on creating and taking advantage of the tools developers build into games.
Video Game Copyright Final Thoughts
All being said, I’m pretty sure of one thing. At the rate of development in computer graphics and the popularity of in-game virtual photography, it will only be a matter of time until new rules, laws and the basic understanding of image copyright will catch up to the rapid growth of the virtual photography niche.