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Subject: Using elements of other games within games rss

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Driver 8
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I have an idea for a board game that I'd like to work on. I sometimes roll my eyes at the idea of everyone and his brother wanting to design a game, but I have an idea that I really think would make a great game. It requires borrowing elements from other games though. But I think I'm OK, because the games I'm thinking of borrowing from are 'public domain' games. For example, in many regards To Court the King borrows it's mechanics strongly from Yahtzee, and there doesn't seem to be a fuss made about that. So, I'm assuming that kind of thing is OK. Right?
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Gordon Watson
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As far as I am aware 'public domain' doesn't really come into it as you can't actually copyright game mechanics anyway. So you are free to borrow from whatever games you want when making your own - if you adopt a mechanic in it's entirety from some recent game it is probably polite to recognise as much in the game bumpf.


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Pete Belli
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There are no new ideas (with just a few exceptions) in the board game hobby:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/359079

Go for it... and Good Luck.
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bran mcmillin
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The entire game is copyrightable, but as mentioned above, mechanics are not. The rule's layout/graphic design and text are copyrightable. The board's layout/graphic design and text are copyrightable. The cards' layout/graphic design and text are copyrightable. The box's layout/graphic design and text are copyrightable.

But the game itself (as a whole) is not. It has to be copyrighted in it's individual forms. If you run searches in the US Copyright office, you'll notice that card designs for park place, boardwalk, etc are separate from that of the board, and the "long rules" and "short rules", each individual community chest and chance card are copyrighted.
But NOT the game of Monopoly.
You'll notice that lots of card game will have images of their cards in their rules, this allows them to copyright the cards along with the rules, since the cards' layout/graphic design is apart of the rules.
The same principle applied in the recent DC vs. Superman creator decision, that DC Comics owns the copyright to a Superman that is in black and white underwear, since DC ran an ad featuring Superman in a colorless b&w, but Superman's creators own the rights to Superman in colorized underpants.

Alot of whoopy doo, diddly to say "you're fine, run with it."

Only thing to remember is the feeling you get when you play a game that is "just a stinkin' rip off of settlers of catan, only all messed up..." and how many others will feel the same way.

good luck, bud!
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Dan Norder
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bran wrote:
The same principle applied in the recent DC vs. Superman creator decision, that DC Comics owns the copyright to a Superman that is in black and white underwear, since DC ran an ad featuring Superman in a colorless b&w, but Superman's creators own the rights to Superman in colorized underpants.


Got a link to a reputable source for where you got that information? Because it frankly doesn't sound accurate. Copyrights are on individual images, not all the different images of the character in a certain color scheme. I could draw my own image of Superman with black and white underwear or colorized underwear and it'd be my copyright, because it was a new image. Character names and logos are trademarks, not copyrights.
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Walt
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And to add the last element of IP (Intellectual Property), patents can be used to protect game mechanics, but this is very rare. Chrononauts is one of the very few games with patented mechanics.
 
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Michael J
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Game mechanics are generally not copyrightable. You can't copyright auctions, worker placement, card drafting, hidden deployment, etc...

Feel free to borrow mechanics from games to create a new game experience. Suffice it to say that unless you put a new spin on something, you will suffer from the "this game is just like so and so, but not as good" syndrome. Don't be a cheap knockoff, and your game will sell better.
 
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bran mcmillin
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dannorder wrote:
bran wrote:
The same principle applied in the recent DC vs. Superman creator decision, that DC Comics owns the copyright to a Superman that is in black and white underwear, since DC ran an ad featuring Superman in a colorless b&w, but Superman's creators own the rights to Superman in colorized underpants.


Got a link to a reputable source for where you got that information? Because it frankly doesn't sound accurate. Copyrights are on individual images, not all the different images of the character in a certain color scheme. I could draw my own image of Superman with black and white underwear or colorized underwear and it'd be my copyright, because it was a new image. Character names and logos are trademarks, not copyrights.


The pdf of the judge's ruling: http://uncivilsociety.org/siegel_superman_032608.pdf
 
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Dan Norder
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Thanks for the link. Your summary of it doesn't quite match up with the legal findings.

You introduced it with this:

bran wrote:
You'll notice that lots of card game will have images of their cards in their rules, this allows them to copyright the cards along with the rules, since the cards' layout/graphic design is apart of the rules.


Cards are copyrighted regardless of whether they have images in the rules or not. Maybe you're thinking the OLD copyright rules, pre-1978, in which copyrights specifically had to be filed and registered on each work of art so that a book could have images from elsewhere and gain copyrights on them if they weren't filed separately... but for a published game the copyright would be applied to the work as a whole, which would include both rules and all cards, so even there if that's what you were thinking it wouldn't make a difference.

These days copyrights come the moment some artistic work is created in tangible form. You don't have to file them separately or even at all.

bran wrote:
The same principle applied in the recent DC vs. Superman creator decision,


There is no current legal principle like that.

bran wrote:
that DC Comics owns the copyright to a Superman that is in black and white underwear, since DC ran an ad featuring Superman in a colorless b&w, but Superman's creators own the rights to Superman in colorized underpants.


No, not really... It's a complicated case, so I can see where people would be confused, but even the summaries of the case I've seen haven't explained it anything like that. Basically the creators ended up gaining partial copyright ownership of everything that was in the original comic introducing Superman, sharing it with DC. DC still has copyright on the things they added. But copyright only extends so far. Trademark is the important part, and DC has that. Characters extend beyond just how they were presented in the comic.

But, anyway, this is really off topic, as everything you said in your post up until the parts I quoted above were accurate, and those are the important things as far as this thread goes.
 
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bran mcmillin
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dannorder wrote:
These days copyrights come the moment some artistic work is created in tangible form. You don't have to file them separately or even at all.


This is true, but when presenting a case one must prove the date that the original was created, and they won't take your word for it, or having the date printed on it, since people can backdate anything on via their p.c. So having the individual items copyrighted or postmarked in a sealed envelope are necessary if wishing to prove the date of creation.

dannorder wrote:
There is no current legal principle like that.


Sure there is, there are a variety of products that are offered for sale from american companies that have different colored versions of a slew of different characters, comic book as well as real life. The whole of derivative creation rests on this principle. Quite a large number of advertising companies use this for skirting around images, architecture, people and so forth that get in their shots that they don't have permission to use, so they photoshop them.

dannorder wrote:
It's a complicated case... anyway, this is really off topic.


Certainly, no truer words have been typed.

bran wrote:
Only thing to remember is the feeling you get when you play a game that is "just a stinkin' rip off of settlers of catan, only all messed up..." and how many others will feel the same way.


***edit: I just reread this and do apologize if it comes off as terse. Everybody is friends. No hard feeling or told you so's, etc. ***
 
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Walt
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bran wrote:
So having the individual items copyrighted or postmarked in a sealed envelope are necessary if wishing to prove the date of creation.

Though this is common, I don't know if it has an legal standing. You could mail an envelope to yourself, steam it open, and change the contents. Filing a copy with the government does have legal standing.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Tall_Walt wrote:
bran wrote:
So having the individual items copyrighted or postmarked in a sealed envelope are necessary if wishing to prove the date of creation.

Though this is common, I don't know if it has an legal standing. You could mail an envelope to yourself, steam it open, and change the contents. Filing a copy with the government does have legal standing.


It has no standing or validity at all.

Consider: I mail myself a stack of empty unsealed envelopes. Then, as the need arises, I put appropriate contents in them and seal them. Instant time machine!
 
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Walt
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clearclaw wrote:
It has no standing or validity at all.

Consider: I mail myself a stack of empty unsealed envelopes. Then, as the need arises, I put appropriate contents in them and seal them. Instant time machine!

Well, the idea is the postmark date is evidence. But, most mail I get isn't postmarked, and what has apparent postmarks are postal machines, not a USPS cancellation of stamps. But, yeah, if you're worried about it, send a copy to the government according to the copyright instructions.
 
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bran mcmillin
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Tall_Walt wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
It has no standing or validity at all.

Consider: I mail myself a stack of empty unsealed envelopes. Then, as the need arises, I put appropriate contents in them and seal them. Instant time machine!

Well, the idea is the postmark date is evidence. But, most mail I get isn't postmarked, and what has apparent postmarks are postal machines, not a USPS cancellation of stamps. But, yeah, if you're worried about it, send a copy to the government according to the copyright instructions.


this is very true, it seems the only ones that get postmarked are bills and ads.

the thing that goes with all being said is that we've hijacked this thread. i think a renaming is needed.

if the idea, drawing, rule set, whatever is worth stealing, then it's worth a $45 investment, an envelope, and a stamp, or $35 to e-file.
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Dan Norder
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bran wrote:
So having the individual items copyrighted or postmarked in a sealed envelope are necessary if wishing to prove the date of creation.


They already ARE copyrighted, so you don't have them copyrighted. You can *register* the copyright, which is a good thing to do for anything important, but registration isn't the same as copyright. And the postmark thing, as already pointed out, is nonsense with no legal standing.

bran wrote:
dannorder wrote:
There is no current legal principle like that.


Sure there is, there are a variety of products that are offered for sale from american companies that have different colored versions of a slew of different characters, comic book as well as real life.


Of course, but that has nothing to do with if they are copyrighted or not. They are ALL copyrighted.

bran wrote:
The whole of derivative creation rests on this principle.


What principle? Colorization?

You aren't making any sense. I don't know if you are really confused or just very bad at explaining what you mean.
 
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Byron Collins
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From the US Copyright website,

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#poorman

They have an FAQ item for the self-mailed copy, a.k.a. "poor man's copyright".

You have copyright the moment of creation. But to take protection of the expressed form of your work further, you can register the work through the copyright office. It's easy to do so. File through the copyright office, you pay $35 for e-filing, it gets reviewed, and in about a month you get a nice shiny certificate with an official registration number.

Bam. Zip. Done.

Regarding mechanics, borrow away. They cannot be copyrighted. Give a nod to the original designer of the mechanic if you can determine this- esp. if borrowing the mechanic 1 for 1. If mechanics could be copyrighted, or if patents were pursued on every mechanism in a game, there would likely be only one game with dice-rolling, etc.

As a designer, certainly don't blatently copy anything. And if you pursue IP issues ad nauseum, you'll likely never take that leap of faith to expose the game and thus get it off the ground.
 
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