Author Topic: Your Copyright  (Read 1878 times)

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Offline Strolen

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Your Copyright
« on: December 14, 2003, 04:51:01 AM »
Found this interesting website that goes into the particulars of the copyright given to our creative works.


Are game rules protected by copyright?
Brandon Blackmoor

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, "the text matter describing the rules of the game" (from http://www.loc.gov/copyright/fls/fl108.pdf) may be protected by copyright, depending on the literary content and other factors. For example, a passage describing character creation for the Clans of the Sun and Moon, explaining their society and why they tend to have the skills they do, would probably be protected by copyright. A section merely describing the steps involved in rolling a number of dice or expending a number of points on X attributes would probably not be.

The Intellectual Property Section of the Virginia State Bar puts it this way: "To be copyrightable, the material must be original and possess a minimum level of creativity."

As general legal advice, this is solid, but if you want an opinion on a specific work that will hold up in court, you will need to pay an intellectual property lawyer for it. If you have money on the line, do not accept the word of anyone but a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law.

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Offline paulkdad

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Not meaning to sound defeatist, but... no.
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2004, 12:11:14 AM »
Whether or not you are protected by copyright depends upon two things: (one) how valuable your product is; and (two) how much money you have to defend it in court.

The truth is, if you have something truly marketable, it's only protected by copyright if one of the "big boys" doesn't want to steal it. For the most part, copyright is a corporate protection (especially after the DMCA), and does not serve individual creators. The reason for this? You're unlikely to get the chance to defend your copyright against an individual, and against a corporation you would have to come up with $100,000+ to defend it in court (and that's if the case is cut and dried).

Case in point: Harlan Ellison and AOL: http://harlanellison.com/kick/

My apologies to any lawyers or judges in the forum, but our legal system is the most inefficient thing I have ever seen. It is absolutely pathetic. My wife and I were sued by someone in the summer of 2000, and LAST MONTH it got resolved. But get this... it never went to trial. No, we got a summary judgment in our favor. That's a good thing, but it cost us over $9,500 to get there. And we may or may not get any of that money back (i.e., even if there is statute and precedent supporting a "reasonable fees" ruling, we will still have to collect).

The reason it took so long, and cost so much, is that the "other guy" was a well-to-do businessman with a lawyer on retainer. He was going to drag it out until we ran out of money (and had to give in). Having the law on your side is something, but you've also got to have enough money to fight the good fight. If you don't, "being right" means nothing.

And you can forget any notions of defending yourself without a lawyer. Even a bad lawyer would make mincemeat out of a layman in the courtroom. You have to be fluent in "legalese" to even make yourself heard.

Unfortunately for individuals, the courts are like poker... you have to have money to play, and when you run out of money, you lose the hand. It doesn't matter what cards you're holding.

Personally,I don't worry about copyright, because I've waded through the quagmire of our legal system enough to know that I would rather lose my work than go there again. As they say, "It ain't hell, but you can see it from there." So, if I put something on the web, it's free. If I don't want it to be free, I don't put it up. Simple as that.