GDC is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Use the GDC 2021 Session Viewer to browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. All registered attendees will be able to build their personal schedule directly within the event platform, once live early July 2021. All times are listed in Pacific Time.

Who Owns Reality?

Will Bucher  (Associate, Fenwick & West)

Date: Wednesday, July 21

Time: 9:40am - 10:40am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Business & Marketing, Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: N/A: I prefer to present live on-site but I am open to delivering a virtual presentation

Reality is the ultimate muse. Even for games set in fantastic pasts or the distant future, game creators draw on the real world for their designs. But just because we share in the experience of reality doesn't mean we all share in the right to copy it. This presentation goes through the most commonly copied aspects of reality in games— natural wonders, buildings, weapons, cloths, brands, and people—and discusses what, if anything, needs to be done to copy them legally. We will also cover strategies that can be implemented to avoid legal liability when you want to use a legally protected piece of reality as an inspiration for an original game asset.


Audience members will learn what can and can't be legally copied in a game from the real world and strategies for using the real world as inspiration to create truly original, non-infringing, assets and characters.

Intended Audience

The presentation will be most valuable to designers, artists, and legal professionals, but will be useful to anyone involved in the development of games. The presentation does not require any background legal knowledge to be fully understood and utilized.