Copyright etc

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Copyright etc

Postby diploguy » 05 Oct 2014, 03:18

I don't see any here.

I have one I'm developing but from what I've read it doesn't look like I'll be allowed to GM my own variant. I guess I could let someone else run it. But how does this site deal with "copyright" issues. Like a player taking the map and variant rules and spreading across internet land without proper credit and all. No I don't have delusions of grandeur. I'm just wondering if this concern has been addressed before.
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Re: Copyright etc

Postby asudevil » 05 Oct 2014, 14:46

We honestly just don't have that issue. Most of the people here DO GM their own variants (after GM'ing one of the more standard ones)...or people who make them don't care and just want ANYONE to GM it.

And variants that are found from other sites are generally credited in the bottom of the map as "created by"...or something.
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Re: Copyright etc

Postby Pedros » 05 Oct 2014, 17:58

Thanks for this diploguy. I've moved it to a new topic because it's an important point. It is raised occasionally, but isn't usually an issue.

Not many variants have been formally copyrighted, so in theory is open territory. In collections like the variant bank and DipWiki, however, a number of descriptions are accompanied by a note stating that use of them is permitted provided that the design is properly attributed.

Here at PlayDip all variants which are played are attributed to the designer (where known.) Most PlayDip designers are more than happy when a GM wishes to run their variant, but it is considered polite to check beforehand and certainly not to run a variant where the designer is a recognised GM and may well wish to run the game him/herself without checking first. But there is a general assumption that games developed here are available to be played here, and a designer would have to make it very clear from the outset if they didn't want this to be the case here. It has never happened, nor been discussed, and I cannot say how the membership would react to such a statement.

(The answer to your initial comment is that the whole of this sub-Forum is about games being developed - one for each topic, usually.)
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Re: Copyright etc

Postby Gavrilo Princip » 05 Oct 2014, 18:30

Hi, Diplo. I don't know what country you're in, but U.S. copyright law is as follows: the creator(s) of an original piece of artwork (drawing, painting, photo, map, etc) or text (poem, essay, story, instruction manual, etc) AUTOMATICALLY become the copyright holder(s) upon the creation of the work. You do not need to register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to claim copyright. However, if you do not register with the Copyright office, then the burden of proof is on you if a dispute should arise.

Now when it comes to game design, there is a bit of a sticky wicket. One cannot copyright the mechanics of a game. Map artwork, card artwork, and even the rules—as they are specifically written—can be copyrighted, but not how the game functions. Thus, you can create another game which functions in EXACTLY the same way as Diplomacy (you can even call it "Diplomacy," because titles cannot be copyrighted either), but you have to redraw the map so it is not the same artwork, and you need to re-write the rules manual so that it is explained "in your own words." It's all kind of silly, but it's true. That's why there are 10,000 variants of Monopoly that are not published by U.S.A.opoly/Hasbro.

As far as publication/reproduction of a copyrighted work on the internet, it's what was mentioned above. For a guideline, browse some of the pictures found on Wikimedia commons and see what they say. If the picture is not in the public domain, the owner will often write something like, "this picture can only be reproduced if credit is given to the original source." Due to the ease of reproduction with computer and web-based technology, obviously people can rip pictures all over the place and never give credit, but if you find them out, you can sue them.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Copyright etc

Postby Pedros » 05 Oct 2014, 18:36

Interesting. I don't profess to know anything about this apart from what I'm told, and this answer conflicts with the confident answer which rick.leeds gave some time ago!
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Re: Copyright etc

Postby Gavrilo Princip » 05 Oct 2014, 18:39

Pedros wrote:Interesting. I don't profess to know anything about this apart from what I'm told, and this answer conflicts with the confident answer which rick.leeds gave some time ago!


What I've written is based on my own investigations for my own game designs. What did Rick say? Can you possibly link the discussion thread?
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Re: Copyright etc

Postby WHSeward » 05 Oct 2014, 19:04

GP is essentially correct with respect to US law, though every country potentially has different rules.

On thing to correct in GPs post
Gavrilo Princip wrote:you can even call it "Diplomacy," because titles cannot be copyrighted either

That is highly misleading. The word Diplomacy can be and is a registered trademark of Avalon Hill (now Hasbro) and is subject to protection under different laws than copyright.
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Re: Copyright etc

Postby Gavrilo Princip » 05 Oct 2014, 19:07

WHSeward wrote:GP is essentially correct with respect to US law, though every country potentially has different rules.

On thing to correct in GPs post
Gavrilo Princip wrote:you can even call it "Diplomacy," because titles cannot be copyrighted either

That is highly misleading. The word Diplomacy can be and is a registered trademark of Avalon Hill (now Hasbro) and is subject to protection under different laws than copyright.


I may be confuscating with book/screenplay/movie titles. I am certain you cannot copyright the title of a book, but with board games, on reflection, WHS is right. "Trademark" and "copyright" laws are different, and I know little about the former.
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Re: Copyright etc

Postby SaltySailor » 05 Oct 2014, 19:42

I should look into this "copyright" thing...

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Re: Copyright etc

Postby diploguy » 06 Oct 2014, 21:53

I'm a bit surprised at how much you can get away with as described by GP.

From what I understand is you can use the same name as long as its not in direct competition. You can name your live bait company McDonald's but you can't name your restaurant McDonald's. I know that the band Olympic Hopefulls had to drop the Olympic part of their name after they acquired some fame and the Olympic committee told them it's a registered/trademarked name. Of course playing music and sporting events isn't direct competition. But I'd imagine they could argue a conflict of interest if the band sings about and performs in such a way that would reflect badly on the Olympic games.

But I would be shocked if say someone came out with a game called "Mystical the Gathering". And it functioned exactly like "Magic the Gathering" except it had different art and had its own wording and there wasn't anything legally the "Magic" makers could do about it. I know Hasbro, speaking of Monopoly, has on at least one occasion halted the reprint attempt of Up Front. Now if all the would-be producers of the new print needed to do was change the artwork and re-write the rule book I can't imagine why it hasn't come out by now.

As for variants here I think to be even allowed to call it your own design there has to be something truly unique about it. Either by way of rules or of a different map. Maybe after some players have played a developing variant they acknowledge that it is a unique variant then the creator of it can have his/her name put directly on the map.
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