If you have been participating in or observing the comment threads of late, you may have noticed an argument simmering over whether a particular game design that was previously published on the Web was used without attribution in a recent game release. The essence of the argument is this: can two independent developers arrive at an uncannily similar idea without one being influenced by the other? I am inclined to think so.
I also believe it is very important that designers and developers receive proper credit for their efforts and for their creative genius, regardless of whether it's a pixel-based avatar, a detailed game design, or a Flash game on the ZOMGFREE1000sOFGAMES Flash portal. We do everything we can here at JIG to ensure that the proper author(s) receives credit for each game we review, sometimes going through much effort to track down the 'official' site and author name for a particular game that may have been suggested to us. We also try to provide background information about a game and its origin, where appropriate, so that the correct lineage of the design can be documented and preserved. We just want to do the right thing, but sometimes it is difficult to know what the right thing is to do.
John Cooney, of JMTB02 Studios, as part of his senior thesis, recently put together a site that aims to help developers, particularly those using Flash, protect their intellectual property. His site, FlashRights.com, provides information and links that explain copyright, licensing issues, and ways to protect your Flash game and your rights as a developer. While it may not cover every issue surrounding intellectual property, it is a good place to start understanding the basic concepts, terms, and issues facing Flash game developers today. John is a prolific Flash game developer and has been working in the Web game industry for the past 6 years.
Visit his site, learn about your rights, and protect yourself. It's a crazy world out there.