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A few questions about using OA in a commercial product
These are mostly questions about the legalities that may arise when using a shared world like OA in a commercial product.
More specifically, a computer game. Don't get excited yet, this thing is in the earliest stages of pre-production, and it's a very low-profile indie project anyways. There's a definite milestone for an MVP planned in three years time (Minimum viable product, basically the earliest possible alpha-demo that can be used to evaluate the potential of a concept), after which I'll have to make a decision about whether to go ahead or drop the thing. So nothing here is any kind of certain. Still, if you would like an elevator pitch, I'd describe the concept as "Darklands in space supported by procedural world and narrative generation".

A basic setting for the whole thing has been worked out during the last year, but not much of the wider worldbuilding required to support a rich RPG experience. That's when I remembered the few things I had read about Orions Arm before getting overwhelmed, and thought "you know, the stuff you *do* remember would actually seem to kind of fit...". So I came back, and with a helpful hand from Drashner read myself somewhat deeper into the setting over the past week. Still just scratching the surface, but enough to see that my hunch was not unfounded. Using OA as a wider setting seems plausible and could save me a whole lot of work. But there's the legal side of things to consider before digging deeper.

OA is a shared world, but it's not an "open source setting". The information I have about OA and copyright (which was very prominent and easily found, thank you very much!) states that every author retains copyright over the content created by him. On the one hand this is necessary so anyone would even risk locating a commercial product in the setting, on the other hand it can be daunting because there's a potential myriad of parties that might come after you if you accidentally piss them off. So knowing these things as early as possible is kind of essential for me, which is why I am asking these questions this early on.

The core setting itself would be original and contained to a single system, so no locations, characters or factions imagined by other authors would play an active role. I'll divulge more about the setting specifics later on (in fact, if I decide to go through with this and move it into OA, I will be very thankful for any help to integrate it as seamlessly as possible), for now here are my specific questions:

* Use of specific OA terms: Many terms, such as "transapients", "Vecs", "Provolves" etc are specific to OA. Ergo they have been introduced to the setting by somebody, and that somebody holds a copyright on them as per law. Am I allowed to use such terms that are generic *in* the setting, but specific *to* the setting, without explicit permission of their creators? Because it might get really tough to track them all down and get permission...

* Use of Clades/Technologies: Clades are a big thing in OA, and they were all invented and designed by somebody. Can I use clades that are described in the EG without asking their creators for explicit permission? If I for example wanted to use the Tavi as a playable clade (not planned at the moment, but they're kinda cute...), would I have to track down their inventor and work out the conditions with him personally? The same goes for specific tech, like if I wanted for example to include Nanoskin as a wearable armor, or specific tweaks etc.

* References to historic events: Am I allowed to use historic events from OA in the backstory without explicit permission by their authors (not any specific texts, just the events themselves)?

* Texts from the EG: Am I allowed to use copy-pasted passages from the EG (NOT including visual artwork) as in-game descriptions, codex entries etc? This one's probably a no-go...

* References to specific locations or characters: As mentioned, no locations or characters would appear in the game as actual entities, but there might be the odd reference to some things. Is it frowned upon to do such things without the permission of the respective author?

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A few questions about using OA in a commercial product - by jedidia - 02-21-2019, 08:24 AM

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