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Claiming Copyright

SkulloSkullo Registered User regular
edited July 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey! I instantly become an idiot whenever I read any sort of legal jargon, so I'm very confused about claiming copyright. As in, how do I do it, is my work even eligible, and am I infringing on someone elses.

Basically, over the last few days, I created a rulebook for a game. I would like to put it around the boards (and other places on the net I frequent) to playtest. But, I'm terribly afraid of someone stealing my work (I'm actually proud of this idea, so I'd like to get the credit).

So, I figured, I'd like to claim copyright on it. But theres a catch.

1) It's based off of using Lego. Games like Brickquest , Brikwars, Brick Battles, and Mechaton use Lego in their rules, and their creators all appear to have the copyright to their games. Mechaton even charges for the rules. I don't try and make any claims that Lego supports or endorses my idea, and I even mention that its entirely possible to use other things, Lego is just the easiest to obtain.

2) The system is entirely my idea, but I was inspired to do it after reading some of these games. Not, "They should do it like this", but more "I could totally make a game too!" The only similiarites are that my idea uses Lego, and you roll dice. But, since I was "inspired" by these games, does that limit my options?

So, does anyone have any experience with copyright and whatnot? Am I making a big deal over nothing and should stop worrying about it, and just go ahead and pass it around? What to do?

Skullo on
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Posts

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Skullo wrote: »
    Hey! I instantly become an idiot whenever I read any sort of legal jargon, so I'm very confused about claiming copyright. As in, how do I do it, is my work even eligible, and am I infringing on someone elses.

    Basically, over the last few days, I created a rulebook for a game. I would like to put it around the boards (and other places on the net I frequent) to playtest. But, I'm terribly afraid of someone stealing my work (I'm actually proud of this idea, so I'd like to get the credit).

    So, I figured, I'd like to claim copyright on it. But theres a catch.

    1) It's based off of using Lego. Games like Brickquest , Brikwars, Brick Battles, and Mechaton use Lego in their rules, and their creators all appear to have the copyright to their games. Mechaton even charges for the rules. I don't try and make any claims that Lego supports or endorses my idea, and I even mention that its entirely possible to use other things, Lego is just the easiest to obtain.

    2) The system is entirely my idea, but I was inspired to do it after reading some of these games. Not, "They should do it like this", but more "I could totally make a game too!" The only similiarites are that my idea uses Lego, and you roll dice. But, since I was "inspired" by these games, does that limit my options?

    So, does anyone have any experience with copyright and whatnot? Am I making a big deal over nothing and should stop worrying about it, and just go ahead and pass it around? What to do?

    All of the concerns about how to copyright aren't really that big a deal. If you want to test something properly you need to contact people on an individual basis and not just throw your works to the current of the internet.

    I also don't really know what the requirements are to copyright something that's a set of rules, is it a boardgame? phalla? roleplaying system? I know there are some lawyers around here that could probably tell you exactly what to do, but for right now I just wouldn't release it to the masses of the internet, because I could be wrong... but I don't know that you can copyright rules as an original work.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Ok, a couple things here.

    Copyright vests in a copyrightable work basically as soon as it's created. So basically, as soon as you wrote down your rules, you had whatever copyright they were eligible for. You can also register your copyright, which is required to be eligible for statutory damages should the situation arise.

    As far as the use of Lego, it's a trademark issue. I don't know a lot about trademark, but I think as long as you make sure to distinguish yourself form Lego, and make it clear that you are in no way affiliated or endorsed by Lego, I think you're fine.

    You can't copyright the system or the rules. You can copyright your expression of the system, ie. the wording in the rulebook, but that's not very robust. I don't recall any cases dealing with games or game rules so I can't be sure exactly how it would be treated.

  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    You can register for copyright. I believe there's a fee involved, but here's the link

    http://www.copyright.gov/register/

    It's purely a formality, but it does carry more weight in court than the automatic copyright protection you get just by creating something. The only reason to actually register would probably be if you intended to go to court to protect your creation, which in turn you should only do if you expect to make enough money off of it to justify the cost of doing so.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    To a very real point, if someone wants to steal your ideas then they will. You can only be so paranoid.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • MalyonsusMalyonsus Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    This is likely relevant:

    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

    Live: Malyonsus | PSN: Malyonsus
    Wii: As soon as I look it up.
  • SkulloSkullo Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    @Dispatch: It's like a Miniatures Game

    @Others: So since I don't plan on actually making a profit off the idea, and its otherwise just a formality, there isn't really a point? I'm okay with that, as I'm only really interested in getting it if I would need to cover my ass for something (because of the points addressed in the OP).

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    If covering your ass is your only concern, its not a concern.

    The only way some lawyer might send you a cease and desist is if you start getting major attention and have broken some copywrite laws.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Not sure what you mean. Do you mean in case the maker of some game that you were inspired by tries to sue you?

    If that's the case, your work being copyrighted does not protect you from a copyright infringement claim. That being said, from your description it doesn't sound like you've created anything that could really infringe on someone's copyright.

    As far as Lego is concerned, that's a trademark issue, but you can avoid liability by making it clear you're not affiliated with Lego.

  • SkulloSkullo Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Wow, thanks for all the responses. This has been pretty helpful!

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