Copyright etc

This is the place for games which are currently being created and developed, and where the designer is listening to feedback from other players. The game is not ready to play, and the designers are not looking for sign-ups - indeed, they may have no intention of GMing the game themselves when it is finished. But your input is welcome!

Moderator: Morg

Forum rules
Despite repeated requests, designers are still regularly posting maps of several hundred Kb size. All maps should be under 80Kb and preferable 50-60 maximum. Unless you have prior permission, any larger map will be removed without warning.

Re: Copyright etc

Postby WHSeward » 06 Oct 2014, 22:39

diploguy, you are conflating copyright and trademark law in your last post.

The thing to remember about all kinds of IP law is that it is expensive to litigate and usually does not have clear cut outcomes before trial (for a variety of reasons) and different outcomes are entirely possible in different legal regimes. The end result is that deep pockets tend to win because they have the ability to fight. Small guys tend to give up because it isn't worth the money it costs to litigate, even if they are likely to win.
"As a general truth, communities prosper and flourish, or droop and decline, in just the degree that they practice or neglect to practice the primary duties of justice and humanity." WHS

A member of the Classicists.

Ask me about mentor games. Send me a PM or post in the Mentoring forum.
User avatar
WHSeward
 
Posts: 2925
Joined: 29 Dec 2012, 22:16
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1633)
All-game rating: (1647)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Copyright etc

Postby Gavrilo Princip » 06 Oct 2014, 23:01

I know it's shocking, but it's true. Copyright law specifically states that you cannot copyright the mechanics of a game. The phenomenon you are describing where Hasbro is blocking Up Front, and other similar situations you might think of, starts to become less of a copyright issue and more of a power play:

You are Hasbro. I am Game D. Ziner from Cleveland. I just invented a game called CONQUEST! that functions in every way, shape, and form like RISK!, but it retails for less, has cooler artwork, and the rules are written in a funny, conversational tone. There is nothing technically illegal about this product, but as it gains momentum, it will obviously be competition for your product. So you, Hasbro, approach me, Game D. Ziner from Cleveland, and you say "cease and desist for trademark and copyright infringement." I say, "what I've created is not infringing on copyright law at all. Check the books." Then you, Hasbro, simply say, "I don't like checking books. Instead, my bank account will take your bank account to court, and we'll let the lawyers figure it out." Thus, I lose the "copyright infringement" case, just because I couldn't possibly take on the big dogs in court, despite the fact that no copyright infringement has taken place.

Ironically, Hasbro and other big game companies can literally monopolize the toy and game industry--or nearly so.
~Gavrilo Princip
Silver Classicist
User avatar
Gavrilo Princip
Premium Member
 
Posts: 744
Joined: 29 May 2014, 08:09
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1183)
All-game rating: (1240)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Copyright etc

Postby Gavrilo Princip » 06 Oct 2014, 23:02

WHS and I were obviously composing our responses at the same time. ;)
~Gavrilo Princip
Silver Classicist
User avatar
Gavrilo Princip
Premium Member
 
Posts: 744
Joined: 29 May 2014, 08:09
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1183)
All-game rating: (1240)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Copyright etc

Postby diploguy » 07 Oct 2014, 07:42

Thanks for the insight.

But, how do IP and copyrighted games even make it to an expensive trial if the laws are that clear? Every trial has to be allowed to proceed by a judge that acknowledges the merit of the lawsuit and sees there's enough evidence to even attempt a trial. The defendant wouldn't need to spend a dime while the plaintiff tried to show the lawsuit had merit, I think. Although it sure would be helpful to have a knowledgeable lawyer to counter the plaintiff's arguments during the pre-trial hearings.
diploguy
 
Posts: 144
Joined: 07 Nov 2011, 03:45
Class: Ambassador
Standard rating: (1114)
All-game rating: (1110)
Timezone: GMT-6

Re: Copyright etc

Postby WHSeward » 07 Oct 2014, 08:30

diploguy wrote:Every trial has to be allowed to proceed by a judge that acknowledges the merit of the lawsuit and sees there's enough evidence to even attempt a trial. The defendant wouldn't need to spend a dime while the plaintiff tried to show the lawsuit had merit, I think.
No, that is not how it works. Courts don't vet plaintiffs. If a defendant wants a case thrown out, it has to make that argument. A lot of effort will go into discovery & settlement before you even get to that point and, for a variety of reasons, IP disputes are rarely dismissed on summary judgement.

No one makes money from Diplomacy variant development, so if there is a copyright dispute, no one is going to find it worthwhile to fight about it.

People that play Diplomacy should own the board game. People that duplicate and play variants should give to the designer credit. These are just the right things to do and the hobby really just has to rely on people being good actors. Historically, this hasn't been an issue.
"As a general truth, communities prosper and flourish, or droop and decline, in just the degree that they practice or neglect to practice the primary duties of justice and humanity." WHS

A member of the Classicists.

Ask me about mentor games. Send me a PM or post in the Mentoring forum.
User avatar
WHSeward
 
Posts: 2925
Joined: 29 Dec 2012, 22:16
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1633)
All-game rating: (1647)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Copyright etc

Postby Gavrilo Princip » 07 Oct 2014, 18:30

WHSeward wrote:People that play Diplomacy should own the board game. People that duplicate and play variants should give to the designer credit. These are just the right things to do and the hobby really just has to rely on people being good actors. Historically, this hasn't been an issue.


Here here. True of all aspects of life. And people who play on PlayDip should seriously consider going premium.
~Gavrilo Princip
Silver Classicist
User avatar
Gavrilo Princip
Premium Member
 
Posts: 744
Joined: 29 May 2014, 08:09
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1183)
All-game rating: (1240)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Copyright etc

Postby diploguy » 08 Oct 2014, 01:12

WHSeward wrote:No, that is not how it works. Courts don't vet plaintiffs. If a defendant wants a case thrown out, it has to make that argument. A lot of effort will go into discovery & settlement before you even get to that point and, for a variety of reasons, IP disputes are rarely dismissed on summary judgement.


Alright then. For some time now I've felt the court system isn't really fair for defendants. Someone can complain all they want but the defendant shouldn't even have to show up to the court room until the judge has deemed the trial worthy enough. For criminal cases the prosecutors have to get through a grand jury, should be something like that at the civil level.

Anyways, yeah I agree with your take on Diplomacy and the variants.
diploguy
 
Posts: 144
Joined: 07 Nov 2011, 03:45
Class: Ambassador
Standard rating: (1114)
All-game rating: (1110)
Timezone: GMT-6

Re: Copyright etc

Postby Crunkus » 08 Oct 2014, 01:55

Gavrilo Princip wrote:I know it's shocking, but it's true. Copyright law specifically states that you cannot copyright the mechanics of a game. The phenomenon you are describing where Hasbro is blocking Up Front, and other similar situations you might think of, starts to become less of a copyright issue and more of a power play:


You can't copyright mechanics of a game. You can, however apply for a patent on mechanics of a game. Many game mechanics have been patented this way.

Here's a pretty good article on this over at board game geek.

You're right about everything you've said, you're just I believe missing the dimension of the impacts of patents on the question.
(sigh)
Crunkus
 
Posts: 17650
Joined: 05 Feb 2009, 23:51
Class: Star Ambassador
All-game rating: (944)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Copyright etc

Postby Gavrilo Princip » 08 Oct 2014, 03:31

Absolutely right, Crunkus, and as I said earlier: I know next to nothing about patent law. I only know that that patents are exorbitantly more expensive than copyright registration, so I've never been in a position to bother worrying about them. :roll:
~Gavrilo Princip
Silver Classicist
User avatar
Gavrilo Princip
Premium Member
 
Posts: 744
Joined: 29 May 2014, 08:09
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1183)
All-game rating: (1240)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Copyright etc

Postby WHSeward » 08 Oct 2014, 04:14

Crunkus, You correctly point out that it is possible to patent a game. It is not, however, in most cases practical. I think it is safe to say the copyright and trademark protections for games are a few orders of magnitude more common than patents.

In the context of Diplomacy variants, patenting is highly unlikely to make sense. The cost of patent application is quite high and must be paid up front. The cost of defending a patent in the event of dispute is extremely high. (Many inventors do not understand that being awarded a patent doesn't actually mean much until the patent is tested in court.) All of this to protect what income flow? Not to mention the challenges to successful patent defense given the vast amount of prior art in our hobby.

Certainly, if any inventor thinks they have valuable IP around a game, they should seek legal advice. No one posting here is claiming to be a lawyer. That said, I don't think in our hobby it is very likely that the cost of seeking IP protection is going to be worth the benefit.
"As a general truth, communities prosper and flourish, or droop and decline, in just the degree that they practice or neglect to practice the primary duties of justice and humanity." WHS

A member of the Classicists.

Ask me about mentor games. Send me a PM or post in the Mentoring forum.
User avatar
WHSeward
 
Posts: 2925
Joined: 29 Dec 2012, 22:16
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1633)
All-game rating: (1647)
Timezone: GMT-8

PreviousNext

Return to PbF Variant Development

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests