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Hasbro Using DMCA on Facebook Game Apps 210

Posted by Zonk
from the bit-of-overkill-dont-you-think dept.
Boggle Addict writes "Rather than participating in the online gaming market, Hasbro is suppressing it with litigation. Scrabulous, a Scrabble imitation, is already fighting to prevent being shut down. Today, Hasbro sent out DMCA notices to other apps on Facebook, including Bogglific, a Boggle imitation. Copyright law has has always held very limited protections for games. This may be opening a can of worms for Hasbro.
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Hasbro Using DMCA on Facebook Game Apps

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  • by croddy (659025) * on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:27PM (#22071674)
    Sounds like Hasbro wants to have a Monopoly on word games.
    • by mcmonkey (96054) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:31PM (#22071732) Homepage
      Just wait until the Tic-Tac-Toe folks find out about Hollywood Squares.
    • by CSMatt (1175471) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:32PM (#22071742)
      Nope. That's Parker Brothers.
      • Or maybe Parker Brothers is a subsidiary of Hasbro?
      • Re:Sounds like... (Score:5, Informative)

        by deinol (210478) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @07:18PM (#22073158) Homepage
        Sounds like Hasbro wants to have a Monopoly on word games.

        Nope. That's Parker Brothers.

        Correct. Which is owned by Hasbro. Hasbro *has* a monopoly on board games. At least, on the board games that appear in general stores like Target or Walmart.

        List of companies Hasbro owns, stolen shamelessly from Wikipedia:

                * Avalon Hill (an imprint of Wizards of the Coast, see below)
                * Claster Television
                * Coleco
                * Galoob
                * Kenner
                * Maisto
                * Milton Bradley
                * Parker Brothers
                * Playskool
                * Selchow and Righter
                * Tiger Electronics
                * Tonka
                * Wizards of the Coast
                * Wrebbit
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027)

          Hasbro *has* a monopoly on board games. At least, on the board games that appear in general stores like Target or Walmart.

          I have seen both "Apples to Apples" and "Scene It?" games in the board game section of Wal-Mart stores in Fort Wayne, Indiana. "Apples to Apples" is Mattel/Out of the Box, not Hasbro. Likewise, "Scene It?" is Screenlife, not Hasbro.

          List of companies Hasbro owns, stolen shamelessly from Wikipedia:

          * Avalon Hill (an imprint of Wizards of the Coast, see below)
          * Claster Television
          * Coleco
          * Galoob

          Which means Hasbro bought the goodwill associated with Codemasters' Game Genie product, which Galoob Toys marketed in North America. So are we seeing an about-face from Galoob v. Nintendo [wikipedia.org]?

    • by Kuukai (865890) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:41PM (#22071866) Journal

      Sounds like Hasbro wants to have a Monopoly on word games.
      Yeah. If they aren't careful they might find their feet caught in a Mousetrap, with a proverbial Twister of counterlitigation headed in their direction. Boy, then they'll be Sorry. Their Battleship is pretty much sunk, man. They just don't have a Clue...
    • Nah, they just don't want to take a Risk.
    • by Bobzibub (20561)
      They want a game of Snakes and Ladders?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mdwh2 (535323)
      Unfortunately for them, Parker Brothers have a Monopoly monopoly [theonion.com]...
    • Re:Sounds like... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eggplant62 (120514) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @06:29PM (#22072528)
      Nice pun, but other than greed, what motivates these companies to keep such a lock-in on their products? We're not talking about products that are brand spanking new and are threatened with extinction if people start using alternatives; these are products that have been around for ages and ages, since before I was born in '62, and will probably stay around for a long time yet to come. They've made their money from them and then some.

      Instead of wasting it on lawyers and legal fees, why not spend the money on innovating new games and or new forms of already present games, since obviously someone else is providing what they either have not been able to provide or cannot?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NormalVisual (565491)
        ...these are products that have been around for ages and ages, since before I was born in '62, and will probably stay around for a long time yet to come. They've made their money from them and then some.

        Wait, you're not ACTUALLY suggesting that copyright be allowed to work the way it was originally intended, are you? Don't you know that it's not about encouraging new stuff, it's all about milking your old stuff for years and years, down through the generations, thus allowing you to sit on your ass and r
      • by eh2o (471262)
        Due diligence for brand/trademark defense -- if you don't go after the copy cats you lose the rights to the brand. If they permit clones of classic games, what is to stop clones of new games as well?
        • I suppose that would be one thing if the trademarks were actually being infringed. "Scrabulous" is not "Scrabble", nor is anyone likely to confuse the two.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by eh2o (471262)
            It's not just a matter of confusion -- by means of sufficient similarity "Scrabulous" is leveraging the brand-recognition of the Scrabble trademark for the purpose of advertisement. At the same time it dilutes the identity of the mark as what one thinks of as Scrabble now becomes Scrab* or some such variant. So, it is both a type of IP theft and causes damage to the trademark by dilution.

            Second the issue of confusion applies to people who are not necessarily familiar with the game -- granted most people a
      • "why not spend the money on innovating new games and or new forms of already present games,"

        Maybe new versions of old games? Never seems to get worn out i guess:

        http://www.boardgames.com/monopolygames1.html [boardgames.com]

        Yikes, and one of those links leads to another list for colleges :O
        Not going to admit to seeing 3 of those at my parents house.... ;)

        There seems to be few new games and mostly party/trivia games, tho Apples to Apples was a fun party game during the holidays.
  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Naughty Bob (1004174) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:30PM (#22071712)
    Don't tase us, Hasbro.
  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:30PM (#22071718) Homepage
    I mean, sure, Scrabulous is pretty obviously a Scrabble rip-off -- I think we all know that. But couldn't Hasbro at least have an official Scrabble game ready to replace it? If Scrabulous is forced offline, what the hell am I going to do all day when I'm at work?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xannash (861526)
      You could do what most do...look at porn.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      As long as nothing except gameplay itself is copied, I (and IANAL) think Hasbro's fucked and fucked royally. You can't copyright an idea, only its implimentation.

      You could make a game called "Microsoft" (and I would be surprised if there isn't something like this on the internet already) that is a Monopoly clone, but as long as you use different words and pictures than Monopoly, Parker Brothers would have no legal standing.

      Actually the Flying Furry Freak Brothers (IIRC) had a drug game called "Feds and Head
      • by KiloByte (825081) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @06:01PM (#22072156)
        Actually, they do threaten and sue people over the rules, board shape and so on as well.

        Ten years around or so, my roommate created an implementation over the name "Szkrable". Once Hasbro found out, they demanded it to be removed, together with all dissemination of any related software, including the dictionary which later replaced the Polish ispell one (GNU had 300kb of data, MaF had 22MB at the moment). A simple rename didn't work.

        After receiving legal advice and deciding there's no way for a poor student to fight Hasbro whether a copyright over the board shape is valid, my friend came up with totally changed rules and board, making a wordgame which resembled Scrabble in spirit and strategy, but nothing else.

        You can find the thing here [kurnik.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kamokazi (1080091)
      Buy the Scrabble board game, duh! I mean obviously you just wanted to play scrabble without paying for it, I mean the fact that the sheer convenience of playing it on a computer must have nothing to do with it, and presumably abysmal board game sales will rebound once all the DMCA notices go out...right? At least that's what the overpaid lawyers told the old and senile execs.
      • You hit the nail on the head, sir or madam. (It surely has nothing to do with the ranking and long-distance power of the Internet, or with Facebook's convenience.)
    • by mrbooze (49713)
      Not that I'm defending the currently screwed-up copyright system, but Hasbro *does* have officially-licensed online versions of Scrabble, according to a different version of this story I read.
    • by dnoyeb (547705) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @07:03PM (#22072988) Homepage Journal
      Hasbro has had an abysmal online presence for over 10 years. My wife liked scrabble so we bought their offering of computer game. The online part was terrible. They had someone else do it a year later. That version was super sucky too. Then sites like MS gaming site or whatever it was called had their own scrabble and others did too. Hasbro made them ALL stop. I don't get why knock off people can build excellent scrabble online and offline versions, but Hasbro the owner in over 10 years can not make a single one...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Toonol (1057698)
        I don't get why knock off people can build excellent scrabble online and offline versions, but Hasbro the owner in over 10 years can not make a single one...

        All the imitators probably tried to make a decent product to compete. Hasbro doesn't need to; it can cease&desist all other versions off the internet. No need to invest in programmers, when you've got a lawyer on staff...
    • I can't comment on the legality, but I can say it'll be a fucking pain in the ass if they try to shut it down.

      My brother and I both like Scrabble - it's one of the few areas our interests coincide and we can actually do something together - but he's 40 miles away. I've got a set of binoculars, but I still can't see the board. We could play by mail, but I'm not sure that'd work quite as well as for chess... As it is, we both own Scrabble sets, and use them to play when we're in person, so why shouldn't ther

  • by crymeph0 (682581) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:32PM (#22071744)

    From the PC World Article [pcworld.com] linked to from the article linked to in the summary:

    "Mattel values its intellectual property and actively protects its brands and trademarks."

    If they don't defend their trademark everytime they see it being used outside of a licensing deal, they can lose it. You may not like it, but that's the way it is. You want it changed, change the law. I'd also like to point out that trademark law, at its best, actually protects consumers from shoddy ripoffs of the product they thought they were buying.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Or, they could offer to license it and not be asshat about things. Not everything works best by running to lawyers first. In fact, most things don't work best that way (if at all). Lawyers are best suited as asshats that go after other asshats. If you're first response is to find a lawyer, you're an asshat.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by crymeph0 (682581)

        They probably reached for the lawyers first because they'd already signed a licensing deal for online Scrabble to EA. From the Fortune blog [cnn.com] linked to in the summary:

        a recent licensing deal ... assigned online Scrabble rights to EA (ERTS).

        I don't know the specifics about that deal, but I'll bet exclusivity was part of it. And why shouldn't they have signed an exclusive deal with whoever was going to make them the most money? It is, after all, their trademark, and they get to decide how and who uses

      • by Otter (3800)
        Or, they could offer to license it and not be asshat about things.

        If you're Peyton Manning, Jimmy Buffett or Krusty the Clown, and you don't care what sort of crap your name winds up on as long as you get paid a few bucks, that's fine. On the other hand, if you value your brand I can understand why you don't just write to every infringer to offer them a license.

        Besides, if they had done that, we'd just be reading a story about how the "asshats" at Hasbro are trying to extort license fees out of honest infr

    • I agree. But the articles say that Matel is accusing the makers of copyright infringement, which as your title states it clearly is not.
      • by crymeph0 (682581) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:45PM (#22071934)

        Yeah. You'd think that a community that cares as much about IP abuses as the tech crowd in these parts would at least know their enemy.

        Hey kids, take some friendly advice: Nobody will care about your arguments, no matter how sound they are on some basic level, if you don't even get the terminology right. At best, you'll just confuse your target audience, and you won't convince them of anything. At worst, they'll think anybody that complains about IP abuse is just another idiot.

    • by g0at (135364)
      If they don't defend their trademark everytime they see it being used outside of a licensing deal, they can lose it. You may not like it, but that's the way it is. You want it changed, change the law. I'd also like to point out that trademark law, at its best, actually protects consumers from shoddy ripoffs of the product they thought they were buying.

      You're right and I agree with your reasoning. However, do you mean to suggest that you're likely to confuse "Scrabble" with "Scrabulous"?

      -b
      • I wouldn't, but don't you think it's a bit risky (no pun intended) to make a game that looks almost exactly like Scrabble and call it a name that is clearly derived from Hasbro's trademarked name? Would they have run into the same problems if they had called it, say, "WordBlox"?
      • by DCTooTall (870500)
        As we used to say in the Trenches of Tech Support...

        "Never underestimate the power of stupid people."
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)
        I'm sure it doesn't help to have Mark Zuckerberg and Leslie Stahl both call it "Scrabble" on 60 Minutes last Sunday.

        But unless Hasbro got wind of it before it aired, it wasn't the trigger for the notice. Another version of this story was on the Firehose last week.
    • If they don't defend their trademark everytime they see it being used outside of a licensing deal, they can lose it.

      That's a myth. There are all sorts of cases in which the use of somebody else's trademark without their consent is non-infringing. Non-commercial uses are generally non-infringing, and any use -- commercial or otherwise -- that does not cause confusion about who owns the trademark is also non-infringing. Remember the old Pepsi Challenge advertisements? They used Coca-Cola's trademarks all ov

    • by yppiz (574466) *
      As someone pointed out elsewhere, Hasbro can either go DMCA, or offer to license the game. Given the popularity of Bogglific on Facebook (and the high quality of the implementation) it seems like Hasbro's legal team is cutting Hasbro out of a good opportunity to promote their game.
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      Yep, trademarks are another thing entirely... but they can't be used to prevent someone else from entering the market, nor from making a competing offering.

      As to copyright, this is the relevant section from the link in our FA:
      ========
      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 prote
    • So I'd get sued if I made a line of lead-poisoned toys?

  • by crow (16139)
    Isn't the set of rules of a game essentially an invention? As such, shouldn't it be possible to patent the rules of a game?

    Of course, patents don't last nearly as long as copyrights, so most of the games in question wouldn't be covered (and it's too late to file for existing games, in any case).
    • by santiago (42242)
      Yes, if the game is sufficiently original. Magic: the Gathering (US Patent #5,662,332) and Icehouse (US Patent #4,936,585) have such protections, for the novel concepts of trading card games and tapping, and real-time turnless, boardless play, respectively. Most games do not contain patentable mechanics, and games can't be copyrighted, only their specific expression (i.e. the rules as written). You can legally rip off a game completely as long as you rename it, rewrite the rules from scratch, and redo th
    • by reebmmm (939463)
      Sure, you could patent a board game. It has to be the criteria for a patent, but otherwise, sure. And, many games are patented.

      However, most games are also copyrighted and trademarked (as I'm sure scrabble is). Copyright will reach a particular expression of the scrabble game idea: instructions, board, board design, pieces, etc.

      Trademark will reach the name and any names confusingly similar.

      I'm sure that Hasbro is concerned about both copyright and trademark. Copyright is probably a weaker argument here, bu
    • According to wikipedia, the game was invented in 1938 and has been marketed since at least the 1940s. That is a little longer than the one year to file (under 37 CFR 102) currently allowed. Even if it had been patented back when it could be, that patent would be long expired. On the other hand, a new patent with a new name might slip past the examiner. Some of them seem pretty young and might actually not know that scrabble ever existed.
  • Wait.. huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by webrunner (108849) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:36PM (#22071794) Homepage Journal
    I'm confused here.. DMCA is for copyright, that's what the C stands for.. but no part of what was taken was? It's possible it was patented (I believe game mechanics are patented) but there is no DMPA is there? TFA says that they have a "solid case" but I'm not seeing that this "solid case" is what is trying to be used here.. There is no copyright on scrabble. There's a copyright on the scrabble box design, and the scrabble instructions, and perhaps even on the actual design of the board, but not the overall layout of it. There's a trademark on "Scrabble" probably as well, on which "Scrabulous" might infringe.

    I can see a pretty solid case on Trademark or Patent grounds, but copyright is the one thing that WASN'T infringed.
    • Game mechanics may be patentable. They don't always qualify due to a lack of novelty and nonobviousness. And for whatever reason, few game designers seem to pursue patents on their rules. I don't know why. The only patented game rule I know of is for Magic: The Gathering, and it involves rotating cards in play, IIRC.

      Copyrights and trademarks have their uses with regard to games, but they don't protect the underlying game itself, just various things connected to it (the art on the box, the name, etc.).

  • I remember back in the late 90s when a fun email version of Scrabble along with all the Boggle sites were shut down by Hasbro. Just a new generation of programmers learning about trademark laws from Hasbro.

    Bummer, since the free games are great advertising for the few people who don't already own hardcopies of the games. But I guess that's the problem - everyone already owns the game, so the the only way to increase revenues is charge for the online versions.

    -Chris
  • Good! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:40PM (#22071846)
    I hate Scrabulous! Everyone stop requesting games, I can't spell you insensitive clods!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I hate Scrabulous! Everyone stop requesting games, I can't spell you insensitive clods!
      Okay, so like, which Slashdot editor are you now?

  • by saterdaies (842986) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:40PM (#22071848)
    I don't want to get into whether they have a copyright on those types of games, but I do want to talk about the trademark issue.

    Calling a Scrabble knockoff Scrabulous or a Boggle knockoff Bogglific is pretty clear gounds for trademark infringement. I mean, this site is Slashdot. If I created a Slashdot.us - and always referred to it as Slashdot.us - it's still too close to being Slashdot. Same with Slashdotic or something like that. People who are casual observers would get confused as to the owner. And in order to keep that trademark, they have to litigate. So, if someone were to create a Slashdot.us site, Slashdot would have to file against them. If they didn't, slashdot would become a generic term like aspirin that anyone could use.

    Now, I'm sure Hasbro doesn't just want them to change the name, but they have a really great case there. While Hasbro is being craptacular here, the Scrabulous people aren't completely innocent - they wanted to play off the Scrabble name to make money.
    • Indeed, Yahoo! Games has its own Scrabble clone (with minor rules differences, I believe), but they had the savvy to call it "Literati" to prevent the "reasonable likelihood of confusion" trademark infringement argument.
    • by Old Wolf (56093)
      So, if someone were to create a Slashdot.us site, Slashdot would have to file against them. If they didn't, slashdot would become a generic term like aspirin that anyone could use.

      How do you explain this then? [barrapunto.com]
      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        So, if someone were to create a Slashdot.us site, Slashdot would have to file against them. If they didn't, slashdot would become a generic term like aspirin that anyone could use.
        How do you explain this then?
        Uh.... that would be because it's not called "Slashdot" or anything remotely resembling it. *rolls eyes*
        • by aphrael (20058)
          Eh? 'barropunto' is a literal translation of the words 'slash' and 'dot'.
          • Things can get tricky when foreign languages are involved. The touchstone, though, is customer confusion. How many people, intending to go to Slashdot, go to Barropunto instead? If it rarely happens, then it probably isn't infringing.
          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            Eh? 'barropunto' is a literal translation of the words 'slash' and 'dot'.

            So? A trademark does not give you rights to translations of your mark into every language.

    • Although that's all fine and true, I would find it immensely difficult to believe that anybody could confuse Scrabulous for the original Scrabble, given that it's reached the status of being an American cultural icon. Virtually everyone in the US knows what Scrabble is, and should be able to deduce that Scrabulous is not Scrabble.

      I don't think you could very easily prove either, that Scrabulous is adversely affecting sales of the original game.

      As long as the rules for Scrabulous aren't a carbon-copy clone
  • Are games like Scrabble even modern enough to be covered by copyright laws and so forth?

    Is it not like music and such where there's a limited copyright term, and hence is this term not over yet for many of these games? I'm sure some of them are pretty old?
  • Good luck getting rid of pyscrabble. When the code is free for all to share, and anyone can run a server, and the developer isn't maintaining it anymore, who do you sue?
  • by Gallenod (84385)
    Once again we have a commercial entity who, instead of using digital media as a gateway to selling their product, prefer to shut down anything they don't control directly.

    How many younger people who play games almost exclusively online have ever played Scrabble or Boggle? Why would a company like Hasbro want to shut down a site that might actually inspire some online gamers to go buy a physical copy of the game?

    Other than chronic business myopia, that is.

    • by Bryansix (761547)
      Instead of sending the letter they did they should have sent a letter like this: "We saw that you have an awesome port of our game to the Internet. Normally we would respond to this by claiming trademark infringement and if you didn't comply we would sue you. Instead we would like to officially license our games to you for a small fee so that everybody can be happy."

      Note that Carcasonne now has a huge following because the makers of that game licensed it to Sierra to port to the XBox 360.
      • Actually, "Carc" had a huge following long before the 360, the licensing deal was made to shut down the possibiities of a "Scrabulous" like port coming up - quite a number of decent Carcasonne knock-offs exist on the web already.

        A chicken&egg thing to be sure, as the end result was the same (a licensed version of the game where everyone is happy), but the motivation was not as you suggest.

  • by drmofe (523606) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:56PM (#22072078)
    ...to set some money aside for legal fees. Why? Because as Brad Blumenthal told me about 15 years ago "Some bastard is going to sue you". It doesn't matter if they are right, or if you are right, it's just going to happen. Waving the white flag that says "I can't afford to fight" just makes the bastard stronger.

    And let's face it, if you are pulling in $25K monthly on virtually no expense base, you can't turn around and bleat about not having the money to fight it.
  • D2 M3 C3 A1 (Score:4, Funny)

    by IronMagnus (777535) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:59PM (#22072126)
    DMCA doesn't apply to Scrabble... you can't use abbreviations in scrabble http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrabble#Acceptable_words [wikipedia.org] Unless DMCA falls under the 'regularized' provision... then they should have put a Z on the end to get the triple word score and have 57 points instead of 9
    • What is the nature of the "intellectual property" you are asserting protective ownership of? Is it copyright? Trademark? Patent? Some other unspecified fantasy form of IP (like SCO's undefinable "Linux stole it!" IP)?
    • If it's not copyright, aren't you violating DMCA by invoking Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown?
    • If it's patent, which one and when was it filed?
    • Ditto for trademark. Are you claiming, for instance, the board design is trademarked?
    • If it's copyright, what elements? Are you claiming cop
  • by b96miata (620163) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @06:05PM (#22072202)
    Scrabulous isn't an imitation so much as the exact same game save the name, and having the writing on the colored squares explaining which is which. (I always end up GIS'ing up a real scrabble board for reference) Same scoring, same play, same word lists used in scrabble tournaments.

    That said, how fucking old is scrabble? In a rational world any IP protection it had save for the trademark would have gone by the wayside long ago.
    • Probably the most insightful comment on here about this yet. No mod points I'm afraid, I had to use them or lose them earlier...
    • by SimJockey (13967)
      You can right click on the board and and choose "Numbered Board" to turn on the descriptions for the coloured squares.
  • Hey Hasbro (Score:5, Interesting)

    by syphax (189065) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @06:11PM (#22072312) Journal

    We actually bought a Boggle game recently because of an online boggle-like game (which I won't link to, though if you search for 'web boggle' I suspect you mind find it rather easily...).

    Let me say that again: We started playing a Boggle-like game online. We loved it. But we recognized that it would also be fun to play the real game sometimes (b/c sitting around a table is more social than staring at a screen, etc.). So we bought your damn game.

    Hasbro, I've got four kids under six. I am your wet dream demographic: I have both money and kids, and I love toys. Don't piss me off.

    Try a different strategy. [thepiratesdilemma.com]
    • Wako, TX - Heaven, the makers of the ever-popular book, The Bible(tm) have lodged a DCMA take-down order against the developers The Booble, a look-alike being passed around on Facebook.

      "We're very concerned about this." says His Holiness, the Pope. "Clearly this is an infringement upon our intellectual property, and the less-then-stellar attempts to change names, like Jesus becoming Jeebus and Mary Magdalene becoming 'That Ho Who Jeebus' Swings With, Man' don't cut it."

      Intellectual Property expert and reno
  • Boardgame Copyrights (Score:3, Informative)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @06:47PM (#22072730) Homepage Journal

    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. US copyright law for games [copyright.gov]
    The US law is similar to the Canadian law WRT boardgames:

    Copyright protects the expression of an idea and not the idea itself. For example, an idea for a board game would not be protected by copyright, but the expression of this idea in the form of written rules and playing instructions would be protected as a literary work. - Canadian Copyright Policy FAQ [pch.gc.ca]

    You can take any existing game, rewrite the rules in your own words (while avoiding the use trademarks, e.g. "Scrabble") and publish it. That is your right. There's no law to stop you from creating your own Scrabble game just so long as it does not infringe on any of Hasbro's trademarks. The rules, method of play, and alphabet are not copyrightable.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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