Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Welt der Türme

  • FromDale Sheldon <dales@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateTue, 1 Dec 2009 11:43:21 -0500 (EST)
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 it...). Thoughts?

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 registrable."

Note that a game's name and distinctive logos may be protected by trademark laws.

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...

Dale Sheldon

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