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[Freeciv] Re: copyright infringement

[Freeciv] Re: copyright infringement

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To: "freeciv" <freeciv@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [Freeciv] Re: copyright infringement
From: "Brandon Van Every" <vanevery@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 16:03:02 -0700

> If someone sued freeciv, I'm sure some FreeSoftware/OpenSourceSoftware
> corporation would give us some lawyers.

Provided that they believed you hadn't willfully infringed Hasbro's
intellectual property.  Let's be clear: they're not going to sue you
over the source code or the GUI.  You guys wrote all of that.  They're
going to sue you over the rules, for having cloned the game, and
possibly also the Civilization trademark.  I don't know trademark law, I
don't know what kinds of tests substantiate trademark infringement.

> This lawsuit would affect them because :
> a) they distributed freeciv, so they would be contributory infringer
>    if Hasbro would won

Who is "they," that did the distribution?

> b) it would create a very dangerous precedence

You're assuming, possibly incorrectly, that all the intellectual
property precedents necessary for adjudicating the case haven't already
been set.  I think you're under the mistaken assumption that your
entertainment product is somehow "special."  But IANAL.

> So it is in their best interest to protect us.

Again, you don't have your legal paddles in the water if you think
people will automatically come charging to your aid.  Aside from all
other ethical, moral, and legal considerations, there are financial
realities of prosecuting such cases.  It's not a certainty that it's
worth someone else's time to defend you when you have a weak case,
especially if you could fix your own problems easily enough by a conduct
remedy.  I mean, *how hard* is it for you guys to not clone Civ anymore?

> > Someone else asked what nationality is Microprose.  It doesn't
> > Microprose is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Hasbro.
> It does if patents were concerned.

Regardless, they'll nail you on copyright and possibly trademark.

> > (1) stopped calling this thing
> > Freeciv, gave it a completely different name, and changed your
domain name
> > accordingly,
> Stop using *n*x name.

I don't know trademark law.  But considering all the IRIX, Xenix, Minix,
Multics, etc. out there I'd be surprised if anyone can defend a
trademark on the basis of a string matching pattern.  But, there are a
lot of tests for trademark infringement, it's not some single simple
rule.  You'd need to take it up in

> > (2) expanded and engine-ified the game so that it didn't have
> > cloning all the Civ games as the dominant priority, leaving Civ as
just a
> > happenstancical compatibility mode,
> expanded and engine-ified the OS so that it didn't have
> cloning all the UNIX syscalls as the dominant priority, leaving UNIX
as just a
> happenstancical compatibility mode,

Reverse engineering an operating system or a piece of machinery is not
the same as reverse engineering a game.  Any more than you can reverse
engineer a screenplay or a book.

> We are not more ripping CivII that Linux is ripping UNIX.

But the law says you can reverse engineer machinery with "clean room"
techniques.  It does not say you can copy works of authorship, which is
what a game is.  I don't know if the legal concept of plagarism is
equivalent to "cloning" in a software context, but that's the kind of
waters you're in.

> FreeCIv is much *Improve*d over payciv.
> Look at AI.

Improve the rules.

Cheers,             Infernal Troublemaker                    Troll
Mallor              "By simple mistake, mortals themselves amuse."

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