Posted by Tim Dugger on December 09, 1998 at 07:28:14:
In Reply to: Re: Copyrights and derivitive works posted by M. Arthur Auslander on December 08, 1998 at 10:54:23:
The reason I am concerned deals with the following:
U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress
The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is
true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or
methods for playing it.
Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author's
expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright
protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or
trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or
playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in
the copyright law prevents others from developing another game
based on similar principles.
Some material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to
copyright if it contains a sufficient amount of literary or
pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the
rules of the game, or the pictorial matter appearing on the
gameboard or container, may be registrable.
In order to register the copyrightable portions of a game, you
must send the Copyright Office the following elements in the same
envelope or package:
1. A completed application form. If your game includes any
written element, such as instructions or directions, we
recommend using Form TX, which can be used to register all
copyrightable parts of the game, including any pictorial
elements. When the copyrightable elements of the game
consist predominantly of pictorial matter, Form VA should
2. A nonrefundable filing fee of $20.00.
3. A deposit of the material to be registered. The deposit
requirements will vary depending on whether the work has
been published at the time of registration.
If the game is published, the proper deposit is one complete copy
of the work. If, however, the game is published in a box larger
than 12 x 24 x 6 inches (or a total of 1728 cubic inches) then
identifying material must be submitted in lieu of the entire game.
(See "identifying material" below). If the game is published and
contains fewer than three 3-dimensional elements, then identifying
material for those parts must be submitted in lieu of those parts.
If the game is unpublished, either one copy of the game OR
identifying material should be deposited.
Identifying material deposited to represent the game or its 3-
dimensional parts shall usually consist of photographs,
photostats, slides, drawings, or other 2-dimensional
representations of the work. The identifying material shall
include as many pieces as necessary to show the entire
copyrightable content of the work including the copyright notice
if it appears on the work. All pieces of identifying material
other than transparencies must be no less than 3 x 3 inches in
size, and not more than 9 x 12 inches, but preferably 8 x 10
inches. At least one piece of identifying material must, on its
front, back, or mount, indicate the title of the work and an exact
measurement of one or more dimensions of the work.
Copyright Office * Library of Congress * Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
According to this, it appears that we can create new material for the game system in question since the system itself cannot be copyrighted. It also appears that by refering to the system in the original works, we are following the Fair Use
rules. This appears to mean that we can write original material, to be used with that game system (and we do specify that it is for use with that system, so we are not trying to claim credit for something not of our making), and that it would not be a copyright infringement (in the nature of a derivative work).
Does anybody else have an opinion on this? Or know of any recorded cases which may support this position?
Post a Followup