Q: So what's this all about?
A: Background HQ is a website dedicated to providing backgrounds to people who want to make sprite comics.
Q: Sprites? Backgrounds? Comics?
A: Older video game systems such as the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, and even the Gameboy Advanced, used distinctly different, 2D graphical layers to display games. Through the use of a program that can emulate these systems, each of these layers can be removed and a snapshot taken of their contents. The images of Mario from Super Mario World can be placed on different backgrounds, put in different poses, and then special effects and text can be added. The result of this is what is called a sprite comic.
Q: Is that all these are good for?
A: No, not by a long shot. These backgrounds can also be used in the creation of games, animated videos, and just about any other project where you need a backdrop for something.
Q: Can I use the backgrounds on this site?
A: Of course! That's the whole reason this site is on the internet! You can feel free to use the backgrounds provided on this site - we strive to help people in the process of creating something.
Q: What for, though?
A: Backgrounds on BGHQ are intended for parody and educational use only. 'Parody' including the creation of sprite comics or flash videos. 'Educational use' including the use of images as backdrops during the creation of works which can be said to have an educational purpose or element.
Q: Where do games fall in relation to the above?
A: For your own personal fufillment or use? To gain experience developing a game? You're fine. To sell for profit? Expect danger. For public release but not for profit? Exercise caution. Using it as a backdrop for a flash game or the likes probably won't cause eyebrows to raise, but if your purpose is the complete recreation of a commercial game, you'll probably end up in hot water.
Q: Do I have to give credit to the ripper?
A: Contrary to what most sprite rippers will have you believe, you don't have to give credit to the person that ripped these images. Since the ripper did not make the original image, they can not claim ownership to it, so they can not require you to credit them if you use it. However, it's generally the nice thing to do to credit the ripper for all their hard work.
Q: Who owns these images, then?
A: Either the person that made the custom background, or the company that made the game the background was ripped from. We generally make a habit of noting who the backgrounds are copyrighted by at the bottom of every background page.
Q: Do gaming companies mind this sort of thing?
A: If they did, they haven't gotten around to doing something about it. The act of ripping sprites and making comics with them has been around for awhile, and none of the game companies have said a word about it. They're not condemning it, but they're not endorsing it either. For the most part, users just use them for private, personal use and don't try to sell them or make a profit off of them. It is widely believed that as long as the images are used for small, non-commercial use, the parent company who owns the copyright won't ammempt to interfere. However, trying to use them for the purpose of selling a service or product is clearly a violation of copyright law and is very illegal. Thus, don't be surprised if they come after you for selling your sprite comic with their characters' images in it.
It is worth noting that a lot of younger employees first entering the game development industry today obtained their initial experience working with already existing content from commercial games - becoming a pixel artist due to experience with sprite comics, or a programmer due to that for-fun game they made about Megaman. This educational use helps gaming companies in turn by allowing them to hire more skilled employees.
Q: Does BGHQ's display of backgrounds from commercial games infringe on their copyrights?
A: No. See our fair use claim.