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I'm trying to build a winform so I can play a web based game and have some other little utilities on the side. I do not plan on ever selling this or even distributing it to more than a handful of people. My question is, Would I be infringing on any copyright laws if I use images from the game in my client? I just want to be safe on the off chance the company does see it, I don't want to get sued.

Edit: I took a screenshot from the game and cropped out the icons for each skill that I will use as a link to skill guides, calculators, etc. Also, I should note that I live in America and the company is based in the UK. I don't know if that affects anything or not.

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My rule of thumb is if you think someone may want to sue you for doing something, don't do it. You have already questioned it's legality, you bet a lawyer will too. Besides, you can sue someone for darn near anything these days... –  Dylan Yaga Mar 5 '12 at 14:09
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If you use images from a game and you dont have permission to do so (either directly, or via something like a creative commons license), then yes, you are violating the publisher's copyright.

Will you get sued? Probaly not, but you never know.

Edit: Actually, you'll may want to be more specific about what you mean by 'use'. If you are not actually copying the files, but instead loading them from the game's directories, I dont believe that would be considered copyright violation.

#include UsualIAmNotALawyer.disclaimer
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+1 Awesome Include File –  Mallow Mar 5 '12 at 8:29
    
I took a screenshot of the icons for each skill and I plan on using them as an image button. –  Brian Green Mar 5 '12 at 16:40
    
@BrianGreen, then yes, you're violating their copyright. Whether they care or will actually take steps to stop you if they find out about the program... thats an entirely different question. For all you know, they may offer to buy it from you. –  GrandmasterB Mar 5 '12 at 19:41
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IANAL, but I do not think you will be violating any laws if you do not distribute your application (to anyone).

The people who made the game own the copyright on those images, and they control how the images are used. You cannot use their images for anything but personal use without their permission.

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Essentially, what you're building is a web browser. As you're aware, common web browser add toolbars. Some specialized webbrowsers have specialized toolbars as well, e.g. for Facebook. Your webbrowser would have a toolbar optimized for a game. That toolbar is yours; the game isn't. No copyright violation there.

However, do make clear that the two are distinct. You're safe on copyright, but trademarks can still hit you. You may use their trademark in a nominative sense (to identify the game), but not in a promotional sense (you can't suggest they endorse your browser)

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-1: Why do you think the images in the game aren't protected by copyright? Do you imagine this is some kind of fair use? –  kevin cline Mar 5 '12 at 17:43
    
@kevincline: Yes, obviously so. When the copyright owner puts a game on a web server, then displaying them in a web browser is absolutely, totally fair use. Furthermore, even in an insane world where it wasn't, you can still argue estoppel. –  MSalters Mar 6 '12 at 8:05
    
(And obviously, I'm arguing only that it is possible to create a web browser in accordance to fair use, I'm not claiming that every possible implementation is automatically and necessarily covered by fair use). –  MSalters Mar 6 '12 at 8:17
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