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Use of Nintendo's materials in printed works?

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Heggy

Junior Member
What is the name of your state? Arizona

I'm considering writing and self-publishing a sort of "encyclopedia" about the Nintendo Entertainment system. It will be completely documentation, and ismeant as a guide to what's available to the vintage game collector. In this book I would be covering every game ever released in North America and would like to include box art, screenshots and a scan of the cartridge. Perhaps promotional material if I can find it. When finished, I'd like to sell my book through my website, Amazon, etc.

What steps must I take to make sure what I want to do is legal? I've seen several published works that make use of Nintendo's copyrighted materials and I'm wondering how/if they got permission to use that material.

Examples:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0439635799/qid=1126939324/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/102-8898494-6730513?v=glance&s=books
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0072231726/qid=1126939595/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-8898494-6730513?v=glance&s=books
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0970980728/ref=pd_bbs_null_1/102-8898494-6730513?v=glance&s=books

(That last one has small thumbnails of the box covers in it, like this. Not sure about the others.)

Nintendo's website states:
May I use Nintendo games/music/graphics/web site contents?

We appreciate the interest in Nintendo and in all our video game products. To us, it represents a great sign of success and recognition of the Nintendo brand.

"Nintendo" is a registered trademark of Nintendo of America Inc. Nintendo owns extensive intellectual property rights in all of its products, including video game systems, game titles, characters, game software, graphics, artwork, and screen shots. Nintendo also retains rights in content on Nintendo's web sites, including articles, artwork, screen shots and other files. Trademarks and copyrights for third-party games and characters are owned by the companies that market or license those products.

While we are grateful for all the requests for permission to use Nintendo properties, we are not able to grant such requests. We receive thousands of requests and we do not have adequate staffing to review them all. Therefore, our general policy is to decline requests for permission for the use of Nintendo properties.

Although we are not able to grant permission, use of Nintendo's properties without formal permission by Nintendo may still be allowed under the relevant laws of the particular jurisdiction involved. Thus, we encourage you to seek your own legal counsel if you have any questions about whether your particular proposed use is permitted without Nintendo's authorization.
Any help would be greatly appreciated :)
 


divgradcurl

Senior Member
Heggy said:
What is the name of your state? Arizona

I'm considering writing and self-publishing a sort of "encyclopedia" about the Nintendo Entertainment system. It will be completely documentation, and ismeant as a guide to what's available to the vintage game collector. In this book I would be covering every game ever released in North America and would like to include box art, screenshots and a scan of the cartridge. Perhaps promotional material if I can find it. When finished, I'd like to sell my book through my website, Amazon, etc.

What steps must I take to make sure what I want to do is legal? I've seen several published works that make use of Nintendo's copyrighted materials and I'm wondering how/if they got permission to use that material.

Examples:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0439635799/qid=1126939324/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/102-8898494-6730513?v=glance&s=books
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0072231726/qid=1126939595/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-8898494-6730513?v=glance&s=books
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0970980728/ref=pd_bbs_null_1/102-8898494-6730513?v=glance&s=books

(That last one has small thumbnails of the box covers in it, like this. Not sure about the others.)

Nintendo's website states:

Any help would be greatly appreciated :)

Well, Nintendo's policy tells you what you need to do: "e encourage you to seek your own legal counsel." There are usages of both copyrighted and tradremarked materials that are "fair" usages, but whether or not a usage is a "fair" usage is very fact-specific, and only someone who has access to all of the relevant facts can give you a valid opinion.

As a very general rule of thumb, you can use trademarked names, titles, etc., when using the trademark to describe the trademark -- in other words, it's okay to call a Nintendo game system a Nintendo game system, because that's what it is. You must be very careful, however, to avoid any usage of the trademarks that make it sound like your work is sponsored by, approved by, or affiliated in any way with the trademark holder. It's a narrow path to walk, which is why legal counsel is advised.

Also, again very generally, you can use photographs of objects, including copyrighted objects, that you take yourself -- but again, there are limitations. The law on using screenshots is a bit unsettled at this time, so there is no real answer one way or the other -- it will depend on exactly what you do, how you acquire the screenshots, and where you live. Again, you will ewant to discuss this with your own legal counsel to make sure that everything you do is on the up-and-up.
 

Heggy

Junior Member
Thanks for your help :) I knew it had to be something along those lines, but I wanted to make sure what I wanted to do wasn't TOO crazy before I spoke to a lawyer about it.

Thanks again!
 

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