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[Freeciv] Re: copyright infringement

[Freeciv] Re: copyright infringement

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To: Tomasz Wegrzanowski <maniek@xxxxxxxx>
Cc: Reinier Post <rp@xxxxxxxxxx>, vanevery@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, freeciv@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [Freeciv] Re: copyright infringement
From: Stan Shebs <shebs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 09:02:06 -0700
Reply-to: shebs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tomasz Wegrzanowski wrote:
> TEXT of rules is copyrightable.
> MEANING of rules is NOT.
> We can't simply cut&paste civ2's ruleset files, but we don't do this anyway.
> Nothing prohibits us from making alternative text that has the same meaning.

If it were that simple, then it wouldn't be possible for the Tolkien
Estate to license LotR characters and settings to some game makers
and forbid others to use them in games.  This can get really fine-grained,
for instance Silmarillion characters are not so restricted.

In the Civ2 case, the combination of primarily-Linux, shrinking
Civ2 revenues, and relative obscurity has protected FreeCiv so far.
If FreeCiv were to start cutting into, say, Civ3 revenue, the
situation would be different.  If Hasbro acted, individual hackers
would get letters, but more significantly, ISPs would be threatened
into taking down ftp and web sites.  It won't matter which country
you're in either, if Hasbro presses the issue; many of the ISPs are
multi-national, as is Hasbro itself.  (Just think of the MPAA reaching
into a Norwegian teenager's home - I was surprised too.)

It really depends on how successful FreeCiv is on the platforms that
Hasbro wants to sell on;  if they feel that FreeCiv is going to cost
them $2 million in revenue, they'll give $1 million of that to their
lawyers and say "shut it down".  At that point you'll either have to
spend your own money to fight it, or divest FreeCiv of anything that
looks like it was derived from Sid's original design.

Short-term, I don't think all this is much of a problem; but the best
long-term strategy would be to continue to engine-ify FreeCiv
and isolate all the Civ1/2 clone bits into separate files, so if it
ever becomes an issue, you can remove them from the main package
without disrupting development.


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