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Epic clampdown on real-world guns and copyright-infringing game assets

Engine provider conducting thorough audit of Unreal Marketplace for trademark abuse

Epic Games is increasing its efforts to ensure developers and asset makers are not profiting from copyrights and trademarks they do not own.

For example, Unreal Engine 4 user Yoeri Vleer observed via Twitter that "guns that look like actual guns aren't allowed on the UE4 Marketplace anymore".

GamesIndustry.biz reached out to Epic for clarification, and the company later responded with a forum post for its community.

The Q&A lays out the details of the Marketplace policy on copyright and trademark-protected content. Put simply, developers recreating real-world objects or brands must prove they have the rights to the relevant intellectual property.

Community manager Amanda Bott included this extract from the Marketplace Submission Guidelines: "The Seller must have legal rights to redistribute all components of the content. The content must not use any logos or branding for which the seller does not have appropriate legal rights.

"Submissions must be free of any trademarked or copyrighted designs and/or materials (unless owned by or adequately licensed to the Seller)."

While this has always been the policy, UE4 users have noticed it is being enforced more strictly in recent weeks. Bott explained that the Marketplace team has been "armed with more resources for content review" and "renewed our focus on upholding these stated guidelines."

Vleer's concerns that the crackdown on new submissions gives a monopoly to real-world assets already being sold through the Marketplace was also answered.

"While the Marketplace team has been heavily focusing on reducing turnaround time in the submission review process, we recognise that policy enforcement should be handled consistently," Bott wrote. "With wait times in a better place now, we are planning to audit assets that may be in violation of copyright and trademark policy.

"The audit will happen over the course of the next few months. We will contact sellers individually through email to notify them of assets that are found to be in violation of terms. Sellers will have a set period of time (current thinking is 30 days but we are open to feedback) to modify and resubmit their assets for approval. Assets found to be in violation after the grace period for changes will be removed from the Marketplace."

There is more detail on Epic's plans for the audit in the forum thread.

The clampdown on developers selling assets replicating copyrighted items and designs is not all that surprising as more and more major brands become aware of video game content.

Back in November, automotive giant AM General filed a lawsuit against Activision over the use of its Humvee and related trademarks in the Call of Duty series.

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