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Am I allowed to sell/pass on old petsite assets again if...


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I don't know where to post this, if it's in an incorrect subforum then please move this. But this is weird, probably a bit controversial.

  • The assets are 7 years old.
  • They're a bunch of horse-themed, generic/fantasy item icons. No original characters or unique themes (worldbuilding, etc.) included.
  • The assets have been commissioned from me for MovementSim, an old online horse sim. According to my own TOS, both I and the commissioner hold ownership of the art: this part has never changed over the years.
  • The petsite is still listed in some directories, but it itself doesn't exist anymore: the url leads nowhere (movementsim.com)
  • The last Twitter post is from 2017 (https://twitter.com/movementsim), meaning it's highly unlikely the owner is active at all. Are they even active anywhere online nowadays? Contacting them directly would help a lot, but I have no idea how at this point.
  • As far as I remember, I wasn't explicitly told to not resell the assets, should the site goes permanently down and contact goes MIA

Do these factors above mean the contract expired? I have absolutely no idea what would be a good move, if at all, if I'm going to be booed because "oh nuu you're making people pay again for art, you monster", or what. xD But personally I see no problem with this, since there are services where multiple people can pay to use the same assets made by one person. Like it happens in Unity Store or something. But I dunno, perhaps petsites are treated differently in terms of legal art handling.

Should these assets remain in the Useless Limbo regardless? Or am I free to battle the economical inflation with them? x.x

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I am not a lawyer, nor have any variety of that background.  My personal opinion on this matter is, it really depends on two things:

  1. The agreement when you made the art - was it specific to the site or could you re-sellf?
  2. Were you paid for the art?

If you were paid for the art, although you own some variety of ownership, it cannot be resold unless the other party also agrees with it being resold no matter how much you want to.

~judda

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For me, as an artist who has done artwork for many games over the years, I would not advice reusing artwork for other projects or selling them if they were done for someone specifically. Personally I find it rude to do so, but that's probably just my own opinion. 
The other issue you may run into is the duel ownership, which, even if the chances are very small if the owners of this game have disappeared, they could still come back and bite you in the butt for using what they then would feel is their artwork, because they paid for it, for someone else. 
For the future, I would adjust your ToS to state clearly that you may resell assets if you feel they are being unused after X amount of years. Otherwise, right now, I would not do it. Keep the items to yourself and to your portfolio but to safe rather than sorry, do not resell them.

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What a great question. I'm gonna have to agree with Aminirus, though. Be safe on this and cover your own butt. I agree you should maybe add a clause to your TOS stating after so many years of the site being unavailable and the owner MIA that all rights revert to you. In any case, I'd recommend reaching out to the owner when possible. I'd add a bit specifically stating something like "if the owner goes a set amount of time (30 days?) without replying to attempts to connect then they're considered MIA."

My two cents. Good luck with this!

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As a purchaser I don't mind buying assets that aren't exclusive and have done so before; but I would absolutely stay away from purchasing anything that has ambiguous rights such as what you have laid out. Even if you technically do have the right, it would be too easy for the original purchaser to challenge it and I wouldn't want to deal with any legal gray areas. It's too much risk.

And aside from that, I personally find it wrong. If you sold the art under specific pretense that implied they would have exclusive rights, I don't think it's right to then sell them to someone else just because some time has passed since they've been used. 

I also wouldn't personally purchase any art that had a time revision clause in their TOS. Not sure if my opinion would be common or not, but I wanted to mention it in case it is and it becomes a roadblock to sales for you. Just as something to keep in mind. 

Good luck! 

 

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