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Subject: Piracy! Would you Copy a Game? rss

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Mark C
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We're lucky to be in a hobby with so many great games and passionate folks in the industry who genuinely care about them.

In other media with intellectual property such as music, movies, and video games, there is a lot of piracy. The reasons may not be relevent, but common explanations are high cost, the sense that companies take advantage of high mark-ups due to the unique nature of the product, or a Robin Hood attitude against intellectual property protections.

My question, to you fellow geeks, is this:

Let's say a game you love, a solid 9 or 10 in your collection, got lost or irreversibly damaged, but because it was unique and popular, the only remaining copies were a publisher's limited edition print run. Furthermore, this "limited" edition was no different from the initial stock game, which had, at best, average production values. Also, the game had a production complexity roughly equal to monopoly: about 40 cards/deeds with info you knew like the back of your hand & could easily reproduce, some pawns, a simple board, and some fairly generic bits that could be easily replaced with cubes or some other inexpensive pieces you had readily available, plus some money. With at most a few hours work, and hardly any expense, you figure you could have a working version of the game.

Would you consider making your own if the publisher is selling these few copies for:

A. Triple the prior MSRP?
B. Ten times the prior MSRP?
C. Fifty times the prior MSRP?
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Nick
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It's probably more common than people think. I know someone who made their own custom Catan set (I think they had a set of the development cards from a partial copy they bought from the thift store). I guess technically that's pirating since they paid next to nothing for a few parts to the game.

The closest I've come is using the stats for figures I didn't own from Wizards' Star Wars minis game, in order to see if the figures worked in my squad build and were worth buying legal copies of.
 
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Carlos Ramirez
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Just my opinion but if the publisher is still selling the game then it is pretty much wrong to copy it, no matter how high a price they are asking.

The case can be made that out of print games where the manufacturer is no longer in existence and/or the game is unlikely to ever be printed again are fair game in some abstract sense (and only for personal use) but if the author/publisher exists, then you are depriving them of potential income just as if you had copied a movie or videogame.

Now this is pretty much a victimless crime especially if the price is so high that you would never buy the game at the price that they are asking but still...

No one is going to jail over an illicit copy of a boardgame but maybe, just maybe, the company goes out of business because of too much piracy. Maybe a talented game developer cannot quit his day job to pursue his passion because there just isn't enough money in it...

I understand the Robin Hood thing. Intellectual property law in today's world has its share of issues but I think that this case is clear.

I could be wrong, though...

Cheers,

CER
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Jan
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I don't think I would actually copy a boardgame, one of the main reasons is that I don't think you can make a good copy by yourself. I don't think you can get the same quality of materials. And I'm not handy at all!

But I sometimes understand why someone would make a piracy copy if you sometimes look at the prices of boardgames and if you see what you just get for the price then it is easy to make yourself a copy.
 
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Boards & Bits
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The answer is pretty simple: what would you want you to do if you were the other person?

Tom
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Kevin Purring
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Gamer_Dog wrote:

Let's say a game you love, a solid 9 or 10 in your collection, got lost or irreversibly damaged, but because it was unique and popular, the only remaining copies were a publisher's limited edition print run.

Would you consider making your own...?


In this special case, hell yes - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Besides, you've already paid for it. If you buy a DVD, I believe you're authorized to make personal backup copies. Why would this not be the same for board games?
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Andy M
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If you're not making a profit from it, I don't see the problem. I would not have a problem with people duplicating my work (I run a small record label) for themselves, so long as they don't sell MP3s taken from the records.
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Andy Barrington
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>Let's say a game you love, a solid 9 or 10 in your collection, got lost or irreversibly damaged

I'm assuming from this description I have already bought the game. Seems strange to call replacing parts of something I have already purchased "piracy". The word clearly implies theft when the act of original purchase makes clear that isn't a truthful statement. Where do you draw the line? Would you call it piracy if I replaced one missing piece in a game with say 100 pieces?
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Devon Harmon
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What you are describing is not piracy. You have already purchased the game. You are re-creating it to replace lost or damaged parts. You are allowed to crate archival copies of protected works.

I scan the rules, counters, and maps of most wargames I purchase. So long as I don't go distributing them, I am not violating any copyright. I don't recall any distinction that the archival copy must be produced before the item is lost/damaged, but I could be wrong; IP is not my bailiwick.
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Mikko Pollari
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Quite interesting topics:

-How is the copyright in board gaming? In private person aspect= I don't mean small factory somewhere in China, but an average Joe with laser printer, scanner & Photoshop.

-Is the concept of terms like: Piracy, Copy, safe copy, Plagiation familiar to people? At which point you cross the line and become a criminal?

-Is it really considered to be piracy(=crime) if you make 1 copy of game board for you own use(You won't be selling it to anybody)?

-How does the "customizing" the game board & pieces affect this topic?

You can always try to check things from Wikipedia, but it would be nice to hear some real facts about this topic from somebody who knows the legislation.




 
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Jeroen Harkes
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Is this really a realistic scenario?

Have you ever seen publishers charge excessively for reprints? (Other than just the higher printing costs of today?)

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Jesper Rugård Jensen
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I have always seen the making of your own copy as somewhat like playing other peoples music on your guitar. They dont get paid for that either. I can see that there is some loss of intellectual property (or what could be seen as that), but I think that the flow of ideas is more important, and that in fact I am just as likely to buy the real product (more in fact). So there might be a very small virtual loss to the designer, but no real money have changed hands.

And as far as I understood it, if you don't outright copy it - but make up your own art, etc. it is legal as the ideas in general as not protected (but I am not a lawyer, and am living in Europe).

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Lou Seelbach
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The real question is, would it be wrong to copy a game of Merchants & Marauders?
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Mikael Ölmestig
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I made a copy of No Thanks! with a 6 nimmt! deck and glass stones and didn't feel bad about it. Later I bought the game anyway. I think most here want to have the real games.
 
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Simon Lundström
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I'm in the process of trying to replicate some Roborally boards from an expansions I never managed to get, by scanning my own boards and doing some photoshopping. What else can I do? The version out now is graphically incompatible with the version I have (WotC) and although I could dish out $100 for this specific expansion it's a no can do, because no one has it for sale.

How much the pain threshold is depends on the original price of course, but in this case it's 5 times the retail price. I think the expansion was $20 when it was released.
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Anthony Simons
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BoardsAndBits wrote:
The answer is pretty simple: what would you want you to do if you were the other person?

Tom
Boards & Bits
www.boardsandbits.com


That isn't the answer because people will always select the best-fit answer for them. One could quite happily say "I would be fine with that in the other person's shoes", whereas if one actually were in that person's shoes one's attitude might be different.
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Jayson Ng
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It's more difficult to copy a board game than digital stuff (music, video, computer games). Reproducing the components is also a lot of money and effort.

Anyway another take on copying...
What do you think about a board game company copying the concept (making it strikingly identical except for the name) of an old board game without buying the rights from the original developer?

Do they actually register patents and copyright for each game system they make?
 
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Gabe Alvaro
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I see no issue here. In fact, I see no issue of making your own copy of any game if it only takes a few hours and uses generic bits.
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costa
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Last year i made my own copy of SAN JUAN. I did it just to try out the game before i buy it. It was the first time i did it, and i'm sure it was the last. I know, i prefer the original and i love those days before an order when i'm taking and putting games on the online kart

bye,
costa
 
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Jeroen Harkes
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Nysalor wrote:
-Is it really considered to be piracy(=crime) if you make 1 copy of game board for you own use(You won't be selling it to anybody)?

Yes, if you didn't buy the original (and kept it).

- Will you be caught and/or prosecuted for it?

Probably not. Only maybe to set an example (one in a million chance)

Nysalor wrote:
-How does the "customizing" the game board & pieces affect this topic?

Not, if you have bought the original game.


The rules are quite simple.
If you buy it, you can don anything you want with it (for personal use).
If you didn't buy it you can play someone elses copy.

 
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Mike Bazynski
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BoardsAndBits wrote:
The answer is pretty simple: what would you want you to do if you were the other person?

Tom
Boards & Bits
www.boardsandbits.com


oh come on, the cynicism here is just too much.
If the publisher is asking 50 times what the price he himself said is reasonable some time eralier, than of course if i was him I'd want everybody to buy it. If I was BoardsAndBits of course I'd want everybody to pay my reasonable-or-not-unimprotant-here prices. that's not a reason for me to think I should pay 50times more.

look at it this way: when pricing next game, it's simple what price to set: what would you want BoardsAndBits to do if you were about to buy the game?


Not saying copying is good, just totally disagreeing with the argument.
Personally I find it cheaper to buy the game (ebay or whatever) than making it myslef, so the problem of if it's legal doesn't apply :-)
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Alberto Casarrubios
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I've made myself hand-made copies of several games, some of which I've ended up buying. Sometimes, comments here on the geek about poor component quality have moved me to create my "upgraded" own copy instead of buying the game (this was true, for instance, for Modern Art or BattleLine).

As I see it, game companies sell the "pre-made" version of a game. When you buy a game, what you're buying is the time and resources saved not making the game by yourself.

Thing is, I'd rather pay 50€ for a DoW or FFG-like rich-components game than 10€ for a cheap cardstock one.
 
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mike hibbert
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Betote wrote:

As I see it, game companies sell the "pre-made" version of a game. When you buy a game, what you're buying is the time and resources saved not making the game by yourself.


You are buying those things, but you are also paying for the development time that went into creating the game, translating the rules, designing the board etc etc. These tasks are not free, someone is out of pocket before a game is made, so some of the purchase cost is backdated to those things.

What you are suggesting is sort of like only wanting to pay insurance premiums for the day you need to make a claim (well, a bit!).
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ggg ggg
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I assert there is nothing morally or legally wrong with making your own copy.

There are usually three, and sometimes four, legal problems when making a copy for commercial use. You can't copy the artwork, you can't copy the rules, you can't violate any trademark, and you can't use a patent concept. Art & rules are easy to get around; you just write your own rules and create your own artwork. Trademark is also easy, just don't use the games name in any way. Most game names and terms are not trademarked, so you could probably get away with it, even without appealing to some fair-use doctrine. Patent is the hardest to get around, and the most irrelevant. Patents are pretty solid, but almost no one gets a patent for game concepts. Even then you can get around it. WOTC may have a patent on card taping, but everyone else gets around it by hand waving 'exhaust the card.' Uh-huh.

For a non-commercial purpose fair-use will most likely protect you for violating the copyright on the art & rules. You've satisfied two conditions: it's not commercial and the your use has little to no impact on the potential market value of the work.

As far as morality: any object you create with your own labor is fine by me.

Finally, it should be pointed out that anyone can sue anyone else for any reason under the sun, regardless of validity.

I'm not a lawyer. You will go to jail if you listen to me.

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David Larkin
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The game designer owns the intellectual rights to the idea behind the game (or they belong to who they sold them to). The person who designed the graphics the rights to the use of any images etc.

I think making copies for personal use/backup is specific to music/software

So I would say it is illegal (in Britain anyway) to copy a game or parts of it without permission of the copyright holder. However as with anything legal this would have to be tested in court to produce a definitive answer in a specific case.

Having said that I happily made my own version of the board for Wabash Cannonball without feeling I had done anything morally wrong (as I had already purchased a copy of the game). However I think it would be morally wrong to copy the game and resell the original!
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