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Subject: Print-and-Play (PnP) Legality Question rss

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Clay Meyer
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Brandon
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I have developed a fetish for tiny games (especially those I can put in my pocket), and have begun "mintifying" games - recreating components to fit within an Altoids (or equivalent) tin. My first was Deep Space D-6, which began as a PnP game and then was published through a Kickstarter campaign.

The next game I wanted to "mintify" is Onitama, which should be fairly easy because of the simple components. However, I didn't know if I could legally create a PnP "mintified" version for folks to download on BGG, or if that violates the copyright. Alternatively, would it be legal to just redesign the theme for the mintified version and offer it in the PnP section as a different game?

I'd like to make sure I don't break any laws or protocols before I make plans for modifying other games.

Any insight would be appreciated.
Thanks!
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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willsdaddy21 wrote:
I have developed a fetish for tiny games (especially those I can put in my pocket), and have begun "mintifying" games - recreating components to fit within an Altoids (or equivalent) tin. My first was Deep Space D-6, which began as a PnP game and then was published through a Kickstarter campaign.

The next game I wanted to "mintify" is Onitama, which should be fairly easy because of the simple components. However, I didn't know if I could legally create a PnP "mintified" version for folks to download on BGG, or if that violates the copyright. Alternatively, would it be legal to just redesign the theme for the mintified version and offer it in the PnP section as a different game?

I'd like to make sure I don't break any laws or protocols before I make plans for modifying other games.

Any insight would be appreciated.
Thanks!


I am not a lawyer (ianal), but I believe anyone can reproduce a game for their own personal use. Even if you were to, say, make your own sculpy clay copy of Games Workshop's minis, I would find it hard to believe that anyone would cry foul ... as long as it's for your own use.

Now, if you were to sell those sculpy clay minis in a public setting like over the internet or at your local game store (as opposed to a secret back alley meeting) ... And especially if you were mass producing them. I can see Games Workshop crying foul if they ever got wind of it.

But that's not the case.

What you're essentially doing by putting PnP files online at BGG is you're making your method of reproducing the game available to the public. It would be like taking apart an existing machine, creating your own blueprints, and then distributing it in a public setting.

Personally, I don't have a problem with it; as long as you let people know who made the original.


However... and this is the tricky part ... laws, lawyers, and court decisions can be almost "nonsensical". And what might make sense to you can have a completely different sense to someone who has enough motivation (money, pride) to fight. And sadly, the people who have enough money to drag the situation out don't necessarily have to prove their case in court ... they just have to wait for the poor individual to run out of money paying a lawyer's retainer and other legal fees.

And that's really something that can be applied to any litigation, eh?


Anyway, to come back to the topic... somewhat.

I heard of a case (sadly forgot the details) where one website required a monthly subscription to view content. And another website decided to subscribe to that, but provide the content for free. Obviously, the first website was potentially losing out on subscription fees, so they sued.

I think the same can be said of distributing "PnP blueprints" on BGG of a published game. The publishers may consider it a threat to their sales of actual product.

(Personally, I think the smart move is for the publisher to provide a PnP, rather than wait for some amateur to botch it up and cause even more potential loss in sales)

(Not that I'm saying you're an amateur who botched anything up.)
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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And, for what it's worth, I also make Mint Tin versions of games I really like. I also have a bunch that I converted to Poker Chips.
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Clay Meyer
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Brandon
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That's great information, thanks!

In a similar vein, there's a website that publishes only the audio from movies and TV shows. So if you're stuck in a cubicle all day and want to listen to a movie (but not watch it), you can just pull a browser and listen to it. I'm sure some movie studios could take legal action against them, but it would be much wiser to promote the site, since it's only providing a "taste" of their movie - but not the entire experience.

I see the mintified versions of games the same way - I'm providing a scaled -down version of the game that can't provide the richer experience of the full game. It's definitely my aim to promote the full games and their creators, because I'm only mintifying games that I really enjoy, and own the full versions of.

 
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Mark
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You can create anything for your own use. Brew up a batch of Pepsi, if you want while wrapped in your own knitted Bart Simpson quilt. However, once you put files online, you are entering a problematic space. Certainly, if you posted files that contained art / diagrams / trademarked names / etc. created by others (mintified or not), you'd be running afoul of laws. But as we all know, game mechanics can not be copyrighted, only the representations of those mechanics. So, make your own version using your own art and with a unique name, and there's unlikely to be an issue.
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Jeff Saxton
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Would you be publishing the rules as an upload as well? If so, then you're likely to run afoul of someone. While the game mechanics can't be copyrighted, the actual rules usually are, unless they are very simple.
 
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Dimitri Sirenko
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Vancouver
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im pretty sure if you change the theme, its fine.
I dont believe game mechanics can be copyrighted. They can be patented if they are really unique and different from everything else. But if game mechanics belonged to the creator completely the gaming industry (not just board game, but video game and mobile especially) would be in total chaos with lawsuits and CnDs
 
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Freelance Police
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The question is less the legality of an IP, but the willingness to enforce and defend it. Frex, GW asked BGG to take down a file of a GW game, and BGG, in response, took down all the GW IP for their games from BGG (I know someone's going to correct me on this!). I've yet to hear about anyone posting a file that was taken down paying a fine or whatnot. Likewise, even if you think you have a legal right to post something, that's not going to keep BGG or the website from taking it down if they think the file will invite IP legal action.
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Clay Meyer
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All good feedback, folks! Thanks for the input.
I think, moving forward, that I will just create a new theme with each modified game, and avoid any issues.
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Quick answer is... NO. you cannot take someone elses game and miniatureize and distribute it without permission. That steps on all sorts of trademark and/or copyright issues.

At least change the theme as others have suggested AND change around how its worded. The wording and expression of game rules ARE protected.

As with everything in the gaming biz. It varies wildly from one publisher or designer to the next as to how they might react. Some may be ok. Some very much will not. A straight-up bootleg, mini or otherwise, though most will be in the NOT category.
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