On Tue, 1 Dec 2009, David Artman wrote:
But here's the rub: Assuming someone gets the full rules to it (and
Oshi, for that matter), is it ethical to reproduce them for use with
Icehouse 'mids and a chessboard? (Assuming the rules aren't released
with a CC License or into public domain.) It's one thing to translate
ancient games like Snakes and Ladders or make variations on games like
Chess--they've been public domain for centuries. It's another thing to
impact a custom game maker's sales by circumventing the need for their
product, even if Icehouse Game System provides both the three scales and
the stackability necessary to play (hmmm... makes one wonder if it
wasn't developed or playtested using Icehouse 'mids, come to think of
You asked about ETHICS and then cited LEGAL reasons (creative commons
liscensing and the public domain).
If you're actually concerned ETHICALLY, I'll leave that to others to
discuss, but if legality is your concern:
"Copyright does not protect the idea for a game [...] or the method or
methods for playing it. [...]
"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
Note that a game's name and distinctive logos may be protected by
And that, occasionally, methods for playing a game are patented, but this
is not usually the case.
But generally, as long as you're not copying the images or text, you're
legally okay from a copyright perspective.
For instance, I've started playing the card game Tichu a lot:
And on the BGG page, you can see the names of the designers, artists, and
publishers. But I haven't given those people any money. I play using a
deck of normal playing cards that came with four jokers, on which I've
written the names of the four special cards. The rules I was taught
verbally, or I refer to Wikipedia in a pinch:
And all of that is perfectly legal.
But is it ethical? That's a different story...