Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Game copyright - how does this work? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: copyright [+] [View All]
Ben F
Australia
Melbourne
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
When does a game lose its copyright like a book does?

If a game has been out of print for over 10 years can one copy it for personal use only?

For example: Full Métal Planète http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/20

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth Owen
United States
Norwich
Connecticut
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Copyright law varies from place to place and time to time. In order to determine when a copyright expires you have to research when and where the copyright came into effect.
That said, I don't think copyrights anywhere expire in just 10 years. As a matter of fact, I don't think you can assume that any commercially published game that appeared anytime in living memory has moved into the public domain.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott
United States
denver
Colorado
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't have any idea about the specifics as I have no training in law. I'm sure that copyright for Full Metal is still in effect-it's probably closer to 50years+. I believe with music and novels its 50 years plus the life of the author or something like that in the U.S. The concept of "abandonware" is meaningless-entirely made up in a legal sense. All of that out of date software that people illegally copy and distribute using that term are still protected by copyright. Its just that no one enforces it.

So technically it would probably be illegal to make a copy since you don't already own it-usually making copies of something you already own for your own personal use is protected under fair use. However, there is certainly a moral component to this but that is an issue you have to settle on your own.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls

Lacombe
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years, or something like 120 years maximum in the case of a "work-for-hire," which many games probably are treated as. If the game was produced in living memory, as was mentioned, it's probably still under copyright.

That said, the only copyrightable elements of a game are the exact wording of the rules / cards and the artwork on the components and packaging. The ideas behind the game (including the actual playing out of the rules) are entirely free game (no pun intended), unless some other relevant intellectual property protection of a different sort exists (the patent on the Icehouse game system, for example). It would be copyright infringement to make a home-copy using the original artwork, but if you can make or find a suitable home-brewed or fan-brewed alternative, you're completely within your legal right to make a copy of the game with that artwork.

[Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. The above is not to be construed as legal counsel.]
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
NateStraight wrote:
Copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years, or something like 120 years maximum in the case of a "work-for-hire," which many games probably are treated as. If the game was produced in living memory, as was mentioned, it's probably still under copyright.


For the US it is more complicated than that. You can refer to this handy chart http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/ - the interesting case is the 1923-63 one - published with copyright notice but not renewed. These works are now in the public domain - this is how Project Gutenberg has released etexts of some of the stories that they have done (for example Robert Sheckley's The Status Civilization).

Also if you are lucky enough to live in Canada I think it is still life+50 for individuals.

I think Canada is like the UK in that corporately owned copyrights expire after 50 years.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls

Lacombe
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andyl wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
Copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years, or something like 120 years maximum in the case of a "work-for-hire," which many games probably are treated as. If the game was produced in living memory, as was mentioned, it's probably still under copyright.


For the US it is more complicated than that. You can refer to this handy chart http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/ - the interesting case is the 1923-63 one - published with copyright notice but not renewed. These works are now in the public domain - this is how Project Gutenberg has released etexts of some of the stories that they have done (for example Robert Sheckley's The Status Civilization).


Yes, I know all that. For the most part, however, copyrighted works falling into that period have been renewed, so you can apply the basic rule-of-thumb of life+70 / "living memory" / etc.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
NateStraight wrote:
andyl wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
Copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years, or something like 120 years maximum in the case of a "work-for-hire," which many games probably are treated as. If the game was produced in living memory, as was mentioned, it's probably still under copyright.


For the US it is more complicated than that. You can refer to this handy chart http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/ - the interesting case is the 1923-63 one - published with copyright notice but not renewed. These works are now in the public domain - this is how Project Gutenberg has released etexts of some of the stories that they have done (for example Robert Sheckley's The Status Civilization).


Yes, I know all that. For the most part, however, copyrighted works falling into that period have been renewed, so you can apply the basic rule-of-thumb of life+70 / "living memory" / etc.


Maybe for games, but certainly not in general. From the link I quoted "A 1961 Copyright Office study found that fewer than 15% of all registered copyrights were renewed. For books, the figure was even lower: 7%."
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls

Lacombe
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andyl wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
andyl wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
Copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years, or something like 120 years maximum in the case of a "work-for-hire," which many games probably are treated as. If the game was produced in living memory, as was mentioned, it's probably still under copyright.


For the US it is more complicated than that. You can refer to this handy chart http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/ - the interesting case is the 1923-63 one - published with copyright notice but not renewed. These works are now in the public domain - this is how Project Gutenberg has released etexts of some of the stories that they have done (for example Robert Sheckley's The Status Civilization).


Yes, I know all that. For the most part, however, copyrighted works falling into that period have been renewed, so you can apply the basic rule-of-thumb of life+70 / "living memory" / etc.


Maybe for games, but certainly not in general. From the link I quoted "A 1961 Copyright Office study found that fewer than 15% of all registered copyrights were renewed. For books, the figure was even lower: 7%."


Seems like that particular study was probably devised to measure something else than what we are talking about here. In 1961, copyright law still worked under the renewal system, where copyrights had to be renewed after 28 years to remain in effect for an additional 28 years. Sounds like that study was probably intended to measure how many copyright owners actually took the trouble to go through the renewal process. It's very unlikely, considering copyright law wouldn't switch to the current system until a few years later, that the study you reference is attempting to measure copyrights that were renewed to take advantage of the various extensions offered to renewed copyrights after copyright law changed to the current system.

I could still be wrong, of course, but that study isn't the thing to prove it. All arguments aside, it's safest to check the exact copyright status of the work in question if it was published any time in the last hundred years or so.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brü Meister
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
I have no problem making a game (even using the original artwork from the game I am re-creating) at all - - - as long as it is for PERSONAL use only.
Technically - it probably is illegal, but so is poker night with your buddies!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Berg
United States
South Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Maverick wrote:
brumeister wrote:

Technically - it probably is illegal, but so is poker night with your buddies!


Technically, you are wrong!

At least for California... and I am sure other jurisdictions probably have similar allowances for private card games.


Here in South Carolina they break in with SWAT teams and haul off the players. I kid you not.



"That said, the only copyrightable elements of a game are the exact wording of the rules / cards and the artwork on the components and packaging. The ideas behind the game (including the actual playing out of the rules) are entirely free game (no pun intended), unless some other relevant intellectual property protection of a different sort exists (the patent on the Icehouse game system, for example). It would be copyright infringement to make a home-copy using the original artwork, but if you can make or find a suitable home-brewed or fan-brewed alternative, you're completely within your legal right to make a copy of the game with that artwork. . . . [Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer."

Lawyer or no, a pretty good description of the basic elements. (And I'm a lawyer.) Making a copy for your own use would probably garner no opposition, although many places, such as Kinkos, won't let you do it Point is, if you have a copy to make a copy from why do you need a copy?

Thing is, making copies of an existing game usually costs far more than just buying the thing . . .

RHB
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonas Jacobsson
Sweden
Upplands Vasby
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
BakyoSan wrote:
When does a game lose its copyright like a book does?

If a game has been out of print for over 10 years can one copy it for personal use only?

For the US...
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-duration.html#duration

EU...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_the_European_U...

Australia...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_copyright_law#Durati...

...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
NateStraight wrote:
andyl wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
andyl wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
Copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years, or something like 120 years maximum in the case of a "work-for-hire," which many games probably are treated as. If the game was produced in living memory, as was mentioned, it's probably still under copyright.


For the US it is more complicated than that. You can refer to this handy chart http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/ - the interesting case is the 1923-63 one - published with copyright notice but not renewed. These works are now in the public domain - this is how Project Gutenberg has released etexts of some of the stories that they have done (for example Robert Sheckley's The Status Civilization).


Yes, I know all that. For the most part, however, copyrighted works falling into that period have been renewed, so you can apply the basic rule-of-thumb of life+70 / "living memory" / etc.


Maybe for games, but certainly not in general. From the link I quoted "A 1961 Copyright Office study found that fewer than 15% of all registered copyrights were renewed. For books, the figure was even lower: 7%."


Seems like that particular study was probably devised to measure something else than what we are talking about here. In 1961, copyright law still worked under the renewal system, where copyrights had to be renewed after 28 years to remain in effect for an additional 28 years. Sounds like that study was probably intended to measure how many copyright owners actually took the trouble to go through the renewal process. It's very unlikely, considering copyright law wouldn't switch to the current system until a few years later, that the study you reference is attempting to measure copyrights that were renewed to take advantage of the various extensions offered to renewed copyrights after copyright law changed to the current system.

I could still be wrong, of course, but that study isn't the thing to prove it. All arguments aside, it's safest to check the exact copyright status of the work in question if it was published any time in the last hundred years or so.


I agree with your sentiment about checking the exact status of the copyright. It should also be noted that just because something has made it into the public domain in the US it doesn't mean it is in the public domain elsewhere (even Canada). Also vice-versa.

Because you can check copyright registration online from 1978 onwards - that would let you check for renewals of works created from 1951 to 1963. If there isn't a renewal it is most likely out of copyright in the USA. It wouldn't surprise me one jot to find some totally uninteresting games in that period which are now public domain through not having their copyright renewed.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.