After over ten years of working with CCP on behalf of the Eve Community and creating thousands of creative pieces I've learned a lot about what can and cannot be done. I answer hundreds of requests regarding what can be sold, traded, or otherwise given away for free. So I thought it was time to create a simple page to help address these issues for you.
What is Eve IP?
Anything contained within the Eve Online Universe is considered CCP's Intellectual Property. Spaceship designs, logos, graphics, star gates, stations, maps, UI, UX, audio, pretty much anything that comes in the download can be considered their property. This also includes many real world items as well, such as corporate identity, packaging, etc.
Having said that we could obviously get into some significant gray areas. But it is best to just consider it all their property when it comes to creating anything on your own. The rest would require international courts, lawyers, and additional expenses. Something I'm sure most of us would like to avoid.
The Eve community loves Fan Art! Feel free to be creative and create wonderful and amazing expressions of this incredible universe. And to share those creations with your fellow players. You are free to create whatever you want, whenever you want, and however you want. But just know that all of the Eve things you love and which inspire you are owned by someone else. Those people are collectively known as CCP Games and they've all worked extremely hard over nearly 17 years to provide that inspiration. Please respect that effort and the rights of the countless artists, writers, developers, 3d artists, and other people who have poured their heart and soul into this world for us to enjoy. I know many of the artists and creatives personally and I have a deep respect for their work. It may be easy to sometimes think of CCP as a giant, monolithic corporation, but it is truly a collection of individuals. Respect their work. And show them how much it means to you by creating beautiful pieces of your own work.
But what to do once you start creating? Let's take a look:
The Official Level
In certain cases CCP will issue a legal contract that allows a creator the rights to use their IP in very specific cases. These situations are extremely rare and you can count on one hand the number of times this has happened. Examples are "The Empires of Eve" book series from Andrew Groen or the Battlecruiser/Frigate series of posters by yours truly. No one knows why these situations are so rare and why CCP is hesitant to institute a more robust Limited Licensing Agreement policy, but they are. And they do not seem willing to change anytime soon.
If you want to bang your head against that wall, let me know and I can help put you in touch with the people you need to reach out to.
Can You Sell Eve Artwork?
No you can't. Having said that there are exceptions.
1) While it is true that you cannot sell Eve IP items for real world currency, you can sell them for ISK or other in-game items. As a matter of fact this is how I've personally made my in-game ISK for nearly a decade, by providing Alliance logo design work for in-game ISK. Obviously this is rather limited since most items tend to be digital in nature, logos, wallpapers, banners, avatars, etc.
2) There is another exception. A single piece of created artwork, such as a painting, drawing, sketch, or other form of singular expression is protected under International Copyright law. Thanks to artists like Andy Warhol, we creative types are free to express ourselves on canvas in any way we choose. Even CCP can't stop you from painting whatever you want and hanging it on a wall. Or in an art studio. And selling it for money or chickens or whatever you want. As long as it is the ONLY ONE.*
(*NOTE: I know this article isn't supposed to be considered legal advice, but I do feel I should add a few points to the above regarding original art. Painting a trademarked or copyrighted item is still generally considered illegal in most of the world. It is actually very complicated and full of various interpretations. I would advise that you be extremely cautious. Campbell's Soup was flattered that Andy painted their cans in his art, so they didn't proceed with legal action. But they possibly could have. Would they have won? Who knows. I don't expect any of you reading this are going to make a living from selling Eve art, trust me I don't think it is possible. So just be careful. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.)
The problem arises when there are more than one of anything. If you want to sell more than one of something, a print, a sticker, a shirt, whatever it might be - that becomes commerce and commerce is protected rather stridently on the side of the rights holder. It is illegal in other words. And to sell those items you need legal permission directly from them. Ok so far?
3) One more exception. If you pay for those multiple copies yourself and decide to give them away for free, then that is also generally ok. This refers to pins, stickers, buttons, and other pieces typically created to be given away at Eve Player meets like Fanfest. The sky is usually the limit here, but as I discovered once that is not always the case. I once planned on creating a free Eve Card Game to be given away at Fanfest and got a Cease and Desist letter from CCP legal. So there are hidden limits to this approach apparently.
4) Charity Donations. If you want to sell Eve IP to raise money for charity or events, you'll need written permission from CCP to do so. In my own experience they are usually pretty good about this and we've had many great examples of it over the years.
5) Patreon, Streamfleet and creative support. You can use Patreon or other creative support platforms and accept donations with one major rule - all work must be available to all supporters. You can't have paywalls, or tiers, that limit access to your work to those willing to pay more. Streamers can accept donations based on this rule, so the same applies to Patreon users. Believe me, this took a ton of work to get to. Follow the rules and you can accept donations of real world currency as long as you are open to everyone, even those not donating. Easy to remember.
So What About 3D Printing?
The same rules generally apply to 3D printing. I would recommend reading this article.
It is slightly more complicated by the fact that the original 3D file may also be rights protected. Again, private non-commercial use is generally ok. It is typically only an issue if you try to sell the work for commercial use, for real world currency, or other trade.
Giving them away for free or in exchange for ISK or other in-game items should be fine.
I should mention that we also won a major victory years ago when CCP changed the rules to allow us the ability to use our own Alliance logos on swag, shirts, and other items. This is why your in-game logo is all messed up and nasty with fake dirt. CCP does that to effectively create two versions of your logo, the one that appears in-game, and the one you have.
If your logo happens to contain Eve IP however, you will need permission from CCP just like anything else. That's why I try to avoid that situation when creating logos. You can still make swag out of it, but you can't print it on shirts and sell them. Not without permission.
And then we come to acceptable levels of parody and what can and cannot be done with items that are sorta/kinda/but not Eve IP. For examples of this I encourage you to visit my RedBubble Store so you can see what I'm doing. (Please note there are examples of Eve IP on the store that ARE there with permission from CCP.) Generally speaking "concepts" inherent to Eve Online cannot be protected or assumed to be protected and fall under parody or other forms of rights-free expression. These can all be based on a very fine line, but in my experience if you think it violates Eve IP then it probably does. So be careful.
But Rixx, I see stuff on Amazon all the time!?!
So do I. Just know that ALL of those are illegal and are being done without permission from CCP. They are a small company and can't possibly police the entire world. There are multiple exceptions and those people are running the risk of significant legal issues should they be caught. I do not recommend you pursue selling illegal IP on the internet. The gains are small and the risks are high.
If in doubt about anything, ask for help. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice, or you can DM me on Twitter, or on Discord anytime.
The above is intended as a general guide only. Please note that CCP tends to change their opinions from time to time as different employees take over different positions. This is not intended to serve as legal advice, only as a common sense guide.