LEGALITY OF EASTER EGGS

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Rave
Even newspapers have those nowadays.
290
I'd like to ask about legality of putting easter eggs in game that is supposed to be sold. I don't want to sell my current or even next game, but somewhere down the line, who knows?...

Anyway most of eggs are not related to my imaginary properties and I usually aim for Duke3D/Retro City Rampage count of eggs. but I dunno about legality of such shootouts/easter eggs. Do we have any lawyer on board?
Not a lawyer but easter eggs should be pretty safe. As far as I know you do not need permission to mention other intellectual properties. Anyone can talk about the latest Game of Thrones episode without fear of fines or inprisonment.

There are some caveats though. You are not allowed to use actual assests from another property. You have to make them yourself. So no actual Final Fantasy sprites. Instead sprites that just resemble them (or are "inspired by them") very much.
Technically they can still send a C&D letter, sue, and all that, just by you mentioning them without the proper clauses. You don't see it very often though, because it's usually pretty harmless and would just waste a corporate legal team's time.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
I'm not a lawyer, but I'm good at finding precedents for things because I've played a lot of RPGs.

World of Warcraft is a good example of a game with thousands of easter egg references to other works. They're generally extremely minor things like the name of a quest or achievement, the name of a weapon, half of a famous quote that's been altered, etc.

As Shinan said, as long as you are just briefly mentioning and spoofing/honoring the original material and not actually taking things from it directly, you should be fine. For example, in a time travel game, if you happen to find a DeLorean that's crashed into a phone booth, and the Time Cops are at the scene of the accident, and one of the Time Cops says "The driver was one Elliot Brown, he was going 88 mph. Apparently trying to get back to the future. No identity on the victim yet, but a letter he was carrying refers to him as 'doctor.'" and the other Time Cop asks "Hmm. The question is, doctor who?" That would be completely allowable! You're not actually stealing anything from the source material except ideas, which can't be copyrighted, and names, which are perfectly fine methods of referring to another work without plagiarizing it.

What would not be okay would be if you then showed a 15 second video clip from Doctor Who, or if the theme song from Back to the Future were playing in the background during this scene.
author=LockeZ
What would not be okay would be if you then showed a 15 second video clip from Doctor Who, or if the theme song from Back to the Future were playing in the background during this scene.


Subtlety usually pays off the best, anyways, so even if it were legal to add in clips or the BttF music, it would wind up feeling like somebody trying to explain the joke at the end, or asking everybody if they understood it.

Nintendo, Enix, and Square (back before Square merged with Enix) often used Easter Egg references in their titles as well. The best of them at the time (I thought) was Super Mario RPG for SNES. There were graphical cameos as well, but this was obviously agreed upon between Nintendo and Square.

For standard indie developers, an Easter Egg that uses actual graphical resources or (as LockeZ stated) audio/clips from copyrighted material is not legal unless you have permission, but it really is no difference than the community's allowance of rips in other games, so long as the project is not being sold.

If I remember right, one of the Donkey Kong Country games has Sonic's shoes next to a garbage can.

Also, Final Fantasy I had the name of Dragon Quest's main character written on a grave. In the remakes they used Link's name from Zelda.
Sega famously got in trouble for including a lengthy boss battle with Spiderman and Batman in Revenge of Shinobi.

So yeah, be more subtle than that and you'll be fine. LockeZ's example is what to go for.
The intellectual property rights wouldn't be infringed so long as you don't use sprites or other resources taken directly from another game (as Shinan stated) and they are used explicitly for an Easter egg or other unimportant feature. You could probably argue fair use for satire and/or parody without any issue at all, and nobody is going to come after you for it in the first place.

If you drew your own Sonic sprite and he wasn't pixel for pixel the exact same as an actual sprite you are pretty safe to use it for a hidden feature or other Easter egg, and can't be sued for it, even if someone was interested in doing so.
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