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Hi AB! I've been religiously following and reading for a while now, but find myself in something of a predicament.

So some time ago my best friend and I would do role-plays of our characters, mine being an archaeopteryx, and his being a snow leopard. Well, not too long ago we had to part ways, but I still loved the role-plays we did, so much that I wanted to make new stories while keeping the same characters.

The complications came with the use of his character. The thing is, I don't know whether it is okay for me to use (if I own the character) or not. This character was initially created by him, in terms of the character's name and the fact that it is a snow leopard, but I designed it from scratch, as well as contributed to the character's personality, and if I were to continue using it, I would overhaul the character even further, so that its personality is entirely my creation.

I absolutely would never consider using this character if there hadn't been signs that my friend didn't much care for it; I know it wasn't his 'sona, and he didn't seem to care at all about it when we weren't role-playing together, though I still do not think this would justify me using it, if it were the wrong thing to do. I don't just mean legally either, I do not want to do something scummy. I know how devastating it would be to find out somebody stole/started using your character without you knowing. However, I am caught between feeling like the character is mine because I was solely responsible for bringing it to life, but also knowing I wasn't the one who initially created it, and unfortunately I am not on speaking terms with my friend and am unable to work it out with him. Although the design is mine and I feel I can still use that, it is very significant to me that I am also able to retain the character's original name, but regardless of that, I just want to do the right thing.

EDIT: Hi all, thank you so much for the responses! While I am still unsure as to what my final decision will be, the advice definitely has me leaning towards changing what isn't mine about the character. However, I feel I must make this edit to talk a little bit more about the circumstances of our friendship. I didn't wish to say too much about it, since this is not the place to bring up relationship drama, but it has been mentioned as a reason keeping the character could cause greater tension, when the truth behind our friendship was a bit different than that.

Let's just say the friendship wasn't ended for malicious reasons, on either of our ends, and the reason retaining as much of the original character as possible is so important to me is directly because I want to honor his memory in a positive light, by continuing using these characters which were such a positive aspect of our friendship, when we were still friends, and although I cannot be for certain since we are still not on speaking terms, I am confident he would know my using the character is not out of malice, or an attempt at backstabbing. I do not say this to argue towards using the character as is; I still want to do the right thing and will change it if I absolutely must (I also realize my reasons may be too sentimental and more hindering my judgement than anything), but it has always muddied the water for me, and made it difficult to come to a final decision.

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
bearprince
Sep. 3rd, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
I'd say it's perfectly fine to take the character and make whatever adjustments you'd like to it. You could essentially make a new character entirely and simply source your friend's original version of the character as inspiration for the new one you made. One of my friends and I had some characters in a world we created together, and as far as I know I'm the only one who still uses them to this day.
gatekat
Sep. 3rd, 2016 05:51 pm (UTC)
To me, this falls under the heading of "if you need to ask, don't do it". While arguments can easily be made going both ways, and you've given the major ones already, if you don't believe the character is yours enough to fight him over it, don't use it as is.

Take what you are confident of claiming -- the design and personality -- but give him a new name.

It'll suck at first, but in the long run it'll be better.
talentedfool
Sep. 4th, 2016 06:24 am (UTC)
I concur with this. I think the whole "not on speaking terms w friend and unable to work things out" is the clearest indicator of how messy this could get, as there's clearly some sourness there already. If this is something you feel so conflicted about you need some outside advice, it feels like you already kind of know this is something you're not comfortable doing. I think even if you decide to go through with it, that discomfort will stay with you on some level and it would make using that character difficult bc of those associated feelings.

If you really, really want to though, and you've basically designed the character and are going to overhaul the personality as well to be completely your own, just take the last step and rename them too, since the name is basically the one thing that wasn't your input, and entirely not yours at all. I know you said it's important to you to keep the same name, but sooner or later you'll get used to the new one, and more importantly, renaming them will also help distance the character more from the original. when you start using a different word in your head to refer to the character, it'll become less and less that old character and more and more the new one.
kestral_kitsune
Sep. 3rd, 2016 05:58 pm (UTC)

I'd make a new character for it.


I helped design a friend's character for him as in I drew it created him from a basic idea he gave input on what wanted changed. But I consider the character his I simply drew it for him.

timelapsedecay
Sep. 3rd, 2016 06:12 pm (UTC)
I can't speak to the legalities of the situation, but on ethical grounds, I wouldn't suggest using a character that *maybe* belonged to someone else unless you have specific permission to do so. Not to be harsh, but it doesn't really matter how much they cared for the character, nor does it matter how much of its existence you came up with- if it's not explicitly yours, I don't recommend using it without permission. There's always the option of designing a similar character, with some base traits borrowed from the existing one, so that it's entirely your creation, and if I were in this situation, that's probably what I'd do. Good luck with this, either way, it seems like a bit of a pickle!

Edit: Sorry, but I wanted to add- it sounds like this could maybe cause even MORE friction with your former friend, too, and that's something to consider going forward. No clue why you guys stopped talking, and I don't mean to presume- but putting myself in that person's shoes, I would definitely be miffed if someone I ceased contact with continued to use my character, whether it was amicable or not.

Edited at 2016-09-03 06:16 pm (UTC)
timelapsedecay
Sep. 4th, 2016 03:40 pm (UTC)
Having seen the edit now, and the unique nature of the parting, I would still recommend not using the character as-is from an ethical standpoint. A lot of the comments approached it from the angle of a bitter parting, but in my opinion, it's still not ethically sound to use a character you don't have specific permission to use, regardless of the nature of the friendship.
okojosan
Sep. 3rd, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC)
If you're not on speaking terms with your friend, I wouldn't use the character at all. If the relationship is currently bitter he could claim you stole his character, even if he didn't seem to care about it while he was using it.

It hurts, but make a new character. Change the species and the name at least. I went through this a couple of years ago, and I'm much happier knowing the new character tied to mine is 100% also mine.
thejackaolf
Sep. 3rd, 2016 06:35 pm (UTC)
I use characters from my roleplay before but there are some key differences, the owner knows I'll use them, the RP has been a massive 17 year old still running thing, and he has said he has no issue.

that said if there is bad blood I'd make a new stand in for the character, just to be safe he could pose a stink over it, he could even be using his in other rp's without you, etc, it'd just avoid the issue all together.
bornesb
Sep. 3rd, 2016 08:05 pm (UTC)
I went through a situation almost identical to yours. I kept the name for a while but then decided that that was too much, so I finally just changed the name and kept everything else as-is. I have no guilt now and if that friend ever comes back and is like "hey that's mine" I am fully confident in saying "No it most certainly is not." Inspired by that character, yes, but now it's something different and it is mine.
mortymaxwell
Sep. 4th, 2016 11:03 am (UTC)
If it was me, I wouldn't do it.

He could see you using the character as trying to cause drama with him and because you haven't had contact with him for so long, you don't know how he feels about the character or what he was doing with it outside of your RP sessions. He could have been writing stories about the leopard or getting artwork commissioned.

I think what you should do is ask yourself, how would you feel if an ex-friend used your character? And how much enjoyment are you going to get looking at the old snow leopard character and being reminded of a falling out with your former friend?
bearprince
Sep. 4th, 2016 03:49 pm (UTC)
Due to that edit, I'm going to comment again, here -- I don't think being vague is going to help with with the specific advice you'd want, here. The advice is going to reflect the information you give us, so in the interests of getting the most out of this post, it might be wise for you to give us more to work with.

You seem to imply that there's a reason why you can't re-instigate contact with the person to ask for their permission yourself. The reason why this is so could be the main factor in whether you can or can't use the character or not.
mortymaxwell
Sep. 4th, 2016 04:00 pm (UTC)
I saw the edit and I would still advise erring on the side of caution. If I had a friend that I drifted apart from and discovered they were using an old roleplaying character to keep a "shrine to me" going, so to speak, I would be pretty creeped out. I wouldn't look at it as, this old friend is trying to keep memories of the fun RP sessions we had alive. I would think this person is weird, unable to let go, and then I would be glad that we don't speak anymore.

You may end up causing this person extreme discomfort by using the character, even though that is not your intent.
celestinaketzia
Sep. 4th, 2016 04:19 pm (UTC)
I suggest changing a lot. So much that there is no way the characters can be confused for one another, but even then I wouldn't personally do it. I've been in a similar situation and continue to use the character, but the main difference is my old partner knows and has given his blessing. Plus the changes I've made are so drastic that our characters can't be confused.
talentedfool
Sep. 4th, 2016 04:50 pm (UTC)
Seeing the edit I'll chime in, in a more personal way. I'll apologise ahead of time if my tone is confrontational.

I have had a friend take and use my character without permission because they liked her a whole bunch, it wasn't a great experience, it wasn't flattering, it was creepy and intrusive and it made it hard for me to ever use that character again. I also used to roleplay a different character with a friend and when we stopped roleplaying together and talking as much, I also stopped using the character a lot. That friend approached me and asked me if it was okay to use that character in a story because they were attached to him and the relationship he had with her character, and I agreed to just hand over the whole character altogether. I was also very fond of the relationship the two had developed in the roleplay, and was happy to hand him over to continue that.

I'm not sure why your friendship ended, I don't really care to know, I'm not here to pry. I'm just going to be blunt and straightforward about this and I apologise again for my tone, but you're clearly still waffling on this and maybe a firm rebuke will help: whatever is making it so difficult to just approach your friend and ask permission to have the character, get over it. Just ask them. If you really can't just reach out and say, "Hey, you know that snow leopard character of yours we made together?", then just drop the character and create a new one that's entirely your own to fill the hole.

You may feel confident that he wouldn't take it the wrong way, but you can't know for sure unless you just speak to him. And it may just be my opinion, but taking his character without consulting him and being like "welp I'm sure he won't take this the wrong way" doesn't really "honour" his memory or your friendship.

That's a lot of words so TL;DR, either talk to your friend about adopting the character or give up on it.
bearprince
Sep. 4th, 2016 04:58 pm (UTC)
I agree with all of this.
signy
Sep. 4th, 2016 08:48 pm (UTC)
I was in a similar situation once.

A very good friend was running a game and gave me the name and rank of the character. I provided the personality, history, appearance and artwork for her. I even used her name as my online and convention identity for several years. At that time, he was fine with her becoming my fursona. When our friendship dissolved (very badly), I wanted to keep using her, and did for several months before he demanded I stop. It quickly developed into harassment. It got really, really bad before I caved. I gave him the character and her FA account, but not her artwork.

I loved that character, and had years of good memories attached to her, but letting her go was easier than dealing with the stress and drama of this other person. I can't even think about the character without remembering those last few months and all the bad feelings associated with them.

So yeah. My experience is kind of worse case scenario, but its worth taking into consideration. You don't know how the other party is going to react. (I thought I did. I'd known him for seven years! But boy was I wrong). It isn't worth the potential disaster. If you can't get permission to use the character (and I totally understand why asking could be problematic for you), do a complete redesign and rename it before you use it again.


Edited at 2016-09-04 08:49 pm (UTC)
chaossal
Sep. 7th, 2016 02:33 pm (UTC)
That's awful! D:
I do not think that is the same at all! From what you describe the person only gave you the name! You made the character! It was never his! If anything all you should have done is changed the name as that's all he gave! He had 0 right to tell you to stop using a character YOU made for your self!
signy
Sep. 7th, 2016 04:35 pm (UTC)
I appreciate the commiseration, but I also disagree with you.

The background of my story, while having different details, is not dissimilar for OP's at all. Both situations boil down to a person who believe the designs elements they presented for the character gives them a slice of ownership to it, vs. the person who created the character, played the character, and feels that while they accepted some level of input, that it is theirs.

If anything, if I were in OPs story, I'd have ended up being the person who wrote the Snow Leopard, and OP is the former-friend who is trying to keep it for themselves after the relationship has dissolved.

That doesn't sit well with me.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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