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Capes & Cowls: The Superhero Board Game» Forums » General

Subject: Would a retheme be legal? rss

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yeah? well… y’know, that’s just like, uh… your opinion, man…
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As far as I understood US copyright law, you're not able to copyright game mechanics. This would mean it's perfectly legal to layout new heroes with new art, rewrite the rules and publish it as free-for-all-pdf. I mean, that's what they did with changing Lost Patrol into Patrol: Lost!, right?

I'm REALLY against piracy, but for many years the publishers leave really no hope at all to see C&C reprinted, so I can't see anybody harmed. So in my book a retheme would be legally AND morally justified.

opinions?
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David desJardins
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It's complicated. It depends what you mean by "rewrite the rules". US copyright law protects "derivative works". If you just take the rules and go through them line by line and rephrase each sentence slightly, you're just producing a derivative work. On the other hand, US copyright law expressly excludes protection of the ideas in a work. So, if you write a different set of rules and their only similarity to the original rules is that they convey the same set of ideas, then it wouldn't be protected. But the only way to determine definitively whether you're in case 1 or case 2 is to go to trial.
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Darren Dew
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woodoo03 wrote:
I'm REALLY against piracy, but for many years the publishers leave really no hope at all to see C&C reprinted, so I can't see anybody harmed. So in my book a retheme would be legally AND morally justified.

opinions?


"Justified" is probably too strong a word. (Hey, you asked for opinions, right?)

While I would dearly love CnC, and I don't see it ever being republished, the PROPERTY isn't ours, until the owner releases it, either by time passing and the law determining it to be fair game, or by individual decree, by the owner. Usually EXPRESS WRITTEN permission.

Lets say *I* own CnC, and I want my one big nest egg to ferment and season until I:
1) rewrite the rules
2) finish my novel
3) write a movie first draft
4) get all the artwork done
5) prepare a trading card game
6) design a line of toys
7) layout a coffee-table book
8) have a contract for all of the above
9) prepare my last will and testament, protecting all of the above, and,
10) iron out all of the legal kinks in selling the above and prepare for the sudden influx of millions I will obviously receive.

If someone ELSE publishes a clone pdf version, how much am I set to lose?

I am a HUGE intellectual property defender, so there has to be pretty serious case for otherwise handling something, OR a clear pattern of an IP owner not being concerned (Wiz-War is a great example).
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Scott Bartel
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Zelif wrote:
OR a clear pattern of an IP owner not being concerned (Wiz-War is a great example).


The designer has not responded to any email from either fans of the game or even publishers in many years. I would say that shows a pattern of not being concerned.
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Thnx for your input.

I definitely respect intellectual property. Now I own the original game, and love it. But I'd never have paid as much money for it as I have now if I hadn't access to an illegal copy before.

I just think it's a shame that this game is just not played. And I don't see any interest by the publisher to get it played. Thus, as homiefud stated, I have the impression that he is not really very keen about his intellectual property.

But I want it to be played. I want the BGG community discussing it and doing all it's magic on it (creating variants, scenarios, new heroes etc.)

Thnx for the insight in US copyright law. According to this, it seems the Lost Patrol initiative is not legal at all...
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Brent Johnson
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Last I heard, the designer was open to a reprint, but my impression was that he couldn't be bothered. I don't think it's going to happen unless an established publisher contacts him and offers him a deal that won't require any effort on his part.

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It's only been 5 years since the game was printed, so I wouldn't assume it's been abandoned just yet.

Why not contact the designer and offer to produce it on a pay-to-download basis, and split to profits with him? If he's really done with the game, he ought to be happy with the offer of a few extra dollars for no effort.
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Brent Johnson
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In my ignorance, Z-Man Games, Inc. comes immediately to mind.

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David Starner
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Zelif wrote:
While I would dearly love CnC, and I don't see it ever being republished, the PROPERTY isn't ours, until the owner releases it, either by time passing and the law determining it to be fair game, or by individual decree, by the owner. Usually EXPRESS WRITTEN permission.


"Intellectual property" is a convenient phrase, but it hides so many major details. There's three major forms of intellectual property. There's trademark; so don't use the name of the game or anything confusingly similar. Check. There's patent; while it's the tool designed to protect game mechanics, it is so expensive and complicated it's almost certainly not an issue here. Then there's copyright; don't go copying the fiction or the images or the words; in fact, if possible do a clean-room rewriting of the rules. This is the biggest issue, but it fundamentally doesn't protect the mechanics of the game. Basically the law considers it fair game. If you disagree, please cite something more specific then IP.
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