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[Freeciv] Re: copyrights

[Freeciv] Re: copyrights

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To: A A <freepg2@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: <freeciv@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [Freeciv] Re: copyrights
From: Per I Mathisen <per@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 16:48:16 +0200 (MEST)

On Sat, 13 Apr 2002, A A wrote:
> I went throught the mailing list archives and read a
> huge discussion about copyrights that took place a
> year and a half ago or so.  I would like to ask if the
> developers of Freeciv took any action when it comes to
> copyrights.

Not that I know, no.

> The reason I am asking is that I have created a game
> that is similar to a commercial game and I am ready to
> GPL the source and throw it up on SourceForge.

How similar?

My understanding of copyright law (and I am not a lawyer but I have had
some courses in this topic), is that game rules are not copyrightable as
such. They are counted as "ideas", and ideas cannot be copyrighted.

However, you should know that certain things like databases, collections,
compilations and tables _may_ fall under copyright law.

> Has there been any news about Freeciv and copyrights?

Consensus has always been that Freeciv does not infringe on any

> What about freecnc or freerails?  It seems that most
> of this development takes place in Europe (If I'm
> wrong please correct me.)  Does being in Europe offer
> some protection?

No, copyright law is basically the same all over, since it is based on
age old international treaties. Precedents on compilations may vary.

> I read recently that Blizzard is going after the guys
> who wrote bnetd.  Are we going to see more of this
> sort of thing?

I don't think so. Most "development" in this area has to do with outlawing
of the bypassing of copy protections, which has nothing to do with
copyright law per se.

(In my view, Blizzard is full of it. I don't think they have a case, and
they seem to be backpedalling fast, perhaps to avoid a countersuit. What
do I know.)

> My game is similar to Panzer General. (Groan! Not
> another one!) If anyone wants more info just let me
> know.

I wouldn't worry much about violating copyrights, as long as you use none
of their text, code, graphics, sound, storyline or names.

I would, however, check out what words they have trademarked (all words
suffixed by (r) and (tm)), since companies do go after trademark

And if you do screw up, they always send a threatening letter first -
unless you are very rich - since they will lose significantly more money
on a trial than they can ever hope to actually get from you in damages.

But don't take my word for it. If it matters to you, talk to your
university/union's lawyer, or see if you have a relative who has a friend
who knows one... ;-)


"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason."
 -- Sir John Harrington (1561-1612)

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