[MUD-Dev] Re: Combat

Travis Casey casey at NU.cs.fsu.edu
Tue Apr 29 22:21:06 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


> Point of fact.  Copyright covers IMPLEMENTATIONS not IDEAS. The Copyright
> offcie themselves state quite clearly in their own materails that game
> mechanics are NOT copyrightable. The stement is that once a game is
> publishedd anyopne is free to publish a game with substantially simialr
> game mechanics.

You may still land in trouble for using trademarks... TSR claims a 
truly ridiculous number of trademarks, many of which would almost
certainly fall down right away in court.  However, if you were to 
advertise your mud as "an AD&D mud", you'd almost certainly lose a
court battle over that.  At the very least you'd have to stop using
the term "AD&D" and you might have to pay fines, court costs, etc. as
well.

Copyright can be a problem if you lift actual text from a game... for
example, if you were to lift the descriptions of AD&D's classes directly
from the rulebooks.  I've seen one mud which was particularly offensive
in this way... the imps had lifted TORG's system for describing magic,
social, technological, etc. levels and placed the descriptions of them,
exactly as they appeared in the game, into help files.  Without crediting
Mayfair games or the authors of TORG.

Games can be patented as well, although it's rare for it to happen and
I don't know of any RPGs that are.

> >I had seen posts in the newsgroups about TSR getting upset with MUD
people
> 
> Yep. and TSr has NEVEr won ANY clegal case they brought to court ( a law
> school freidn of mine pulled the decisions of LEXIS for me awhiel back.)
> TSR howveer DID get ALOt of mileage out of threatening people who did not
> have lawyers of their own with bogus legal action.  The real issue on any
> of these is not if you can use them (you can so long as you do not copy
the
> actual verbage directly out of their books) but can you handle going to
> court to prove it if they file bogus suits.

Umm... any legal case against a mud, I assume you mean?  They won their
case against Mayfair Games, after all.  (Mayfair was producing gaming
materials with "compatible with AD&D" on the cover.  TSR sued them over
the use of the AD&D trademark; Mayfair lost.  If I remember correctly,
Mayfair ended up paying a substantial fine, and had to turn over rights
to all their "AD&D compatible" game materials to TSR.)

> A side note is that TSR is abotu dead.  Wizards of the Coast and TSR have
> announced that WotC has signed a letter of intent to buy TSR.  Its stilk
> lto early to tell wehat the repercussiosn will be, but past WotC behavior
> can lead us to hope this whole thing will be a non-issue soon enough.

I certainly hope so... WotC has always been a very net-friendly company.
In fact, I worked on a couple of projects for them via the net (both
out of print, unfortunately).

IMHO, the whole thing should be a non-issue... most, if not all, paper 
RPG systems are poorly suited for muds.  Even if you do lift a system
for use in your mud, simply changing the names the players see and 
not advertising that you lifted a system should prevent anyone from
being likely to notice.
--
       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <casey at cs.fsu.edu>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_     System Manager, FSU CS department
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'   (904) 644-4290; Room 101C Carothers
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)       No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
  rec.games.design FAQ: http://www.cs.fsu.edu/~casey/design.html



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