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The Courts Classic Games (Games) Games

US District Court: Game Elements In Tetris Clone Infringe Tetris Co.'s Copyright 138

elegie writes "In the US, a District Court has ruled that the Tetris clone "Mino" infringes the Tetris Company's copyrights with regard to elements of the Tetris game design and gameplay. On one hand, a lawyer said that 'a puzzle game where a user manipulates blocks to form lines which disappear' would be noninfringing. At the same time, the Mino game's reuse of such Tetris elements as the dimensions of the playing field and the shape of the blocks constituted infringement. In addition, the Tetris game's artistic elements were not inseparably linked to the underlying mechanics and replicating an underlying idea and/or functionality (which would likely be uncopyrighted) would not justify copying visual expression from an existing game."
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US District Court: Game Elements In Tetris Clone Infringe Tetris Co.'s Copyright

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  • Not a good precedent (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @08:59AM (#40397017)

    The Tetris Co. has been pushing very, very hard for this decision for years, and it's a bad one for everyone except Tetris Co. Where does this begin and end - is Activision going to sue everyone for making a team-based playing-soldiers first person shooter, because it infringes on the Call of Duty copyright? In fact how does this translate to the copyrighting of 'real life' game concepts and other similar idea-based concepts? Are we going to be able to patent games now?

    This is a very, very bad precedent. Yay for the typical scenario of 'person or company with the most money de facto writes the laws.'

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @09:21AM (#40397251)


    I am generally against stupid software IP laws, but really, Tetris was a unique and simple game. Cloning it is blatantly dishonest and taking an extreme shortcut at the expense of the creator and to me really is unacceptable. Just write a new game with new ideas! We would all benefit from that more anyway. I'm ok with cloning certain elements, but not with cloning the core freaking game!

    It's like taking a symphony that you did not write, re-transcribing it on different paper and getting a different orchestra to play it, and then claiming it's a different product, which obviously it is not.

  • Re:The Real Crime (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neyla ( 2455118 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @09:21AM (#40397265)

    Some of them perhaps. I think copyright should be determined experimentally in that it is progressively shortened until such point where you clearly see a fall in new works, then left at a point where they're short enough to hurt creators noticeably, but long enough that the effect is "noticeable" not "catastrophic".

    For videogames, I think that'd mean 10 years. Certainly not 30. If all 10-year-old video-games where freely available, I think this would harm the new-game market noticeably, but not catastrophiccally. (notice how that's already close to true: 10 year old video-games, even AAA titles, can be had for a dollar a piece or something like that)

    Copyright aren't supposed to stop people from independently creating their own similar works though: just because painter A made a portrait of a woman looking to the left while sitting in front of an oak-tree with a red apple in her hand, it doesn't stop painter B from doing the same thing.

    The shape of the pieces in tetris aren't creatively distinct, instead they are mathemathically determined: they're the full set of all possible 4-squares connected pieces.

    It's like claiming 000 001 010 011 100 101 110 111 is a creative selection of 3-digit binary numbers, when infact it's just an exhaustive list of *all* 3-digit binary numbers.

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