As MLP is owned by Hasbro, I'm fairly sure it would breach copyright if they did start to charge money for it, even micro-transactions.
Us charging for the game would be deemed fair use, actually. That is not to say we will take advantage of that and charge. I'd just like to make that clear. The biggest reason LoE would not breach copyrights is because of this:
Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 217 (1954)
The Supreme Court stated "Unlike a patent, a copyright gives no exclusive right to the art disclosed; protection is given only to the expression of the idea—not the idea itself."
Furthermore, there are four qualifications for fair use, and as far as I and some legal council I know can tell, LoE would not breach any of them substantially. There are one of three things LoE would have to do to breach fair use:
- Explicitly add copyrighted characters/locations/entities and utilize them in a way that defames either Hasbro or any of its property.
- Copy the entirety, or majority, of any copyrighted content and claim it as our own or give no obvious credit to Hasbro for it. Even with credit, however, this must be done sparingly and with extreme caution.
- Take content from MLP:FiM, regardless of how much, that is core to its commercial success, fame/identity, or storyline. E.g. Adding quests that revolve around using the elements of harmony to defeat a boss, or adding dialogue taken or obviously derived from the show.
We are using our own quest/story line, our own NPCs, our own buildings/maps (many derived from the show, albeit), our own abilities and concepts, you name it. It is a fan game through-and-through, but we are not stealing anything from Hasbro and do not deny in any way that MLP:FiM is a derivative of our work.
And SweBow has explicitely stated several times that it will always be free.
He has, and I will in no way defy what he has said. A reality must be made, one that he is
aware of, however, that we probably won't be able to keep the servers running forever out of pocket and we will have to take donations at some point. When this may happen is completely guess-work, but I'm sure SweBow would agree that donations are likely something we'll have to look into unless we miraculously gain some kind of sponsorship. This is, of course, not something we ever talk about because it's extremely irrelevant considering how far along the game is. We have a lot more to get done before that's going to be a legitimate topic of conversation. So please hold any questions you may have about donating (we've received quite a few, trust me.)