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Subject: Monopoly Copyrighted? rss

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Claus Stauffenberg
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Hi guys,

I was wondering if there is a particular copyright on the mechanics of the old Monopoly games - like how close does a game have to be before it's an outright rip-off? The reason for this is I've always been fascinated with the thought of a Gallipolopoly as suggested by the Simpsons and I've thought of a way to make it (Monopoly style game focusing on the 1915 Gallipoli campaign) but I was wondering if it would violate copyright.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
Walkure
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Cody H
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I'm no expert, but it would appear that making a *blank*opoly game is legally shaky ground. My advice would be not to try to sell it.
 
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Hunter Shelburne
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I know that Texas State University recently made Bobcat-opoly, and its not an officially licensed variant like Transformers Monopoly and the like, and the they have been selling it about a year and a half now in the local bookstores. Not sure if they had to do licensing, but the box is most assuredly offbrand (and font is way off). I know a few of the business club that actually made the game and marketed it, I'll ask them what exactly they had to go through for that.
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Clem Fandango
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Walkure72044 wrote:
Hi guys,

I was wondering if there is a particular copyright on the mechanics of the old Monopoly games - like how close does a game have to be before it's an outright rip-off? The reason for this is I've always been fascinated with the thought of a Gallipolopoly as suggested by the Simpsons and I've thought of a way to make it (Monopoly style game focusing on the 1915 Gallipoli campaign) but I was wondering if it would violate copyright.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
Walkure

My understanding is Yes you can do this. The game was originally invented by a Quaker to prove the evils of capitalism so the game board is in 'the public domain'. the game was the subject of many legal battles in the 1970s but you can use the board - changed location names from the Parker Bros version is essential. You can also use -poly, just not Monopoly.

Here is a list of versions
http://jergames.blogspot.com/2006/02/monopoly-versions.html

From wikipedia: "Because Monopoly evolved in the public domain before its commercialization, Monopoly has seen many variant games. Most of these are exact copies of the Monopoly games with the street names replaced with locales from a particular town, university, or fictional place. National boards have been released as well. Over the years, many specialty Monopoly editions, licensed by Parker Brothers/Hasbro, and produced by them, or their licensees (including USAopoly and Winning Moves Games) have been sold to local and national markets worldwide. Two well known "families" of -opoly like games, without licenses from Parker Brothers/Hasbro, have also been produced."

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Clem Fandango
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Weapon wrote:
I know that Texas State University recently made Bobcat-opoly, and its not an officially licensed variant like Transformers Monopoly and the like, and the they have been selling it about a year and a half now in the local bookstores. Not sure if they had to do licensing, but the box is most assuredly offbrand (and font is way off). I know a few of the business club that actually made the game and marketed it, I'll ask them what exactly they had to go through for that.

yes this is right - you need to avoid the fonts and artwork of the HASBRO Monopoly game.

Here's a potted history

http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/pdf/202_monopoly.pd...
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Eddy Richards
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SamNzed wrote:


yes this is right - you need to avoid the fonts and artwork of the HASBRO Monopoly game.

Personally I would avoid the mechanics and gameplay as well, and design a completely different game!
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Geir Erik Ø
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I know the laws in Norway do not apply to the rest of the world, but it is still an interesting chase. And I guess the laws in different countries would reach a similar conclution.

In Norway the publisher Damm originally held the rights to publish Monopoly in Norway. In the beginning of the eighties Parker took the rights back and started to publish Monoploly themselves.

Damm responded by publishing their own version called millionær. It was in reality a Monopoly clone. In 1983 Parker took the chase to court. The Norwegian court said that rules of a game cannot be copyrighted, but the design of the game could. So what Damm did was to change the name of some streets, change the text on some cards and make the board circular instead of square. The rules are still the same and both games are sold in Norway to this day.

So, yes Monopoly is copyrighted, but change the design, name and text and you should be within the law.

Also remember that it is within the law (in my understanding) to make a game from scratch as long as you are not selling it or using protected material for graphics.


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Chuck Henry
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My understanding in that in the United States you can create a game using the same mechanics. Mechanics aren't copyright-able or trademark-able. However, you cannot use same artwork nor copy any part of the written rules. I'd avoid using the same terminology for game elements as well. "Get of Jail Free" card (or whatever that card is... I haven't played Monopoly in a decade at least) for instance.

That's why the Apple App Store is rife with clones of board and video games that don't use the same name and artwork. It's the one that are too close that get taken down.

That being said... I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV.
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There was a discussion of the moral and legal status of mechanically identical games on this geeklist. Well, perhaps 'twas more a ponderous debate than a discussion.
 
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There is also trademark to consider. Hasbro has a trademark on the game's name Monopoly. So if you called a game Gallipolopoly, you would probably run afoul of that. There was a game a few years back called Ghettopoly that ran into that problem.
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Claus Stauffenberg
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Thanks guys, that was definitely food for thought. I can see how it would be difficult to make the game too much like the original - fortunately the game mechanics are different enough (I think) though they are somewhat similar in that it travels around a track and areas must be 'purchased' for 'rent' to be collected - though I don't use those terms. Additionally, there are mechanics for soldiers, bombardments, battles, etc. as well as allied forces (players fighting on the 'same side' even if each strives to be top dog in the end).

It would be a bit of a pity not to name the game Gallipolopoly but I can see how that would run into legal hassles.

So as long as I don't use the 'opoly' in the name and make various things like Hotels, Free Parking, Community Chest cards, etc. have different names, it should be okay?

BTW, would "Gallipoly" be too close to "Monopoly"?
 
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Walkure72044 wrote:
BTW, would "Gallipoly" be too close to "Monopoly"?

Maybe not, but don't sell it like that in Australia...
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Matthew Proper-Lee
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The one piece of advice that surprisingly hasn't come up yet: If you're sure you wan to go this route, talk to an IP lawyer! Avoiding that will open you up to a potential lawsuit (or cease and desist) from Hasbro.

Also, keep in mind that most of the -opoly clones out there are licensed out but are all controlled and fees paid back to Hasbro.
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