Just curious: do you have a license for Atlantis

Lead your people to safety before Atlantis disintegrates
HaraldTheGameDeveloper

Just curious: do you have a license for Atlantis

Post by HaraldTheGameDeveloper » Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:02 pm

Hi Sean,

I really like your board game adaption of Atlantis. I'm also developing a pc version of a board game. However, I'm not sure about copyright.

I'm wondering: did you get any license rights for the game, or do you think that's not needed?

Many thanks
Harald

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Sean OConnor
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Post by Sean OConnor » Tue Oct 18, 2005 1:18 pm

Thanks Harald, see this article for more details on that topic:

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

HaraldTheGameDeveloper

Post by HaraldTheGameDeveloper » Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:14 pm

Thanks for the link.
The idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it.

I'm a little suprised by this, even the name is not protected? I'm pretty sure I'd be in trouble if I would sell a "Monopoly PC Game" without any grants. Or maybe it's just a different term and a trade mark is something different than a copyright.

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Post by Sean OConnor » Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:46 pm

Yes, trademark is different. You have to vigorously contest anyone who infringes your trademark too or you lose it. That's why you sometimes read stories of big companies coming down very hard on little guys for trademark infringement. It's not cos they're big bad companies, it's just that if they don't do it they lose their trademark just because they took no action.

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Copyright...

Post by BlueHippo » Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:33 am

Hi HaraldTheGameDeveloper,

The copyright link Sean has given you is the US Copyright Office in Washington USA.

If you're seriously contemplating being a board games inventor, or copying someone else's game, then you would do well to read up on Copyright law as is practised in the UK.

Click on this link;
http://www.intellectual-property.gov.uk ... t/what.htm

What appears misleading in the USA article is it commences; 'The idea for a game is not protected'. That's correct in as much as NO IDEA is protected until it becomes a physical entity. For example, if you have an idea for a game and make a prototype, the prototype gains automatic copyright. Look at any published board game on the market and you'll see a Copyright printed on the box.

The moment the game 'Escape from Atlantis' was invented, copyright existed. It protects the inventor from others who would copy the game and capitalise on the invention. 'End of Atlantis' is clearly a CD copy of 'Escape from Atlantis'. Therefore I conclude, it is in breach of current UK Copyright law.

You Harald are free to take the IDEA of a game based on Atlantis, but you must invent something entirely different. If your version of Atlantis resembles anyone elses previous published version of Atlantis, then you're in Breach of Copyright. It's also useful to know that copyright extends until 70 years after the author's death!

Anyone who wants to publish their version of anyone elses product requires a licence. Sean has copied 3 games on this website. One of them is Risk. The copyright is owned by Hasbro, the world's biggest publisher of games. Yes, Sean requires a licence from Hasbro to market 'Risk as 'Conquest'.

Sean is right in that the name of a game is not copyright, but it can be Trademarked.

Why do I know all this Harald? I'll tell you why. I'm the inventor of 'Escape from Atlantis'. Click on the links to this game for proof.

I have written to Sean direct about my misgivings and await his reply.

Anyone who wishes to contact me regarding 'Escape from Atlantis', 'Survive' or 'Atlantis' can email at jcourtlandsmith@gmail.com.

Warm wishes,

BlueHippo
Alias Julian Courtland-Smith
Board Games Inventor
29th Oct 2005

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Re: Copyright...

Post by Guest » Sun Oct 30, 2005 7:44 pm

the link doesnt work


BlueHippo wrote:Hi HaraldTheGameDeveloper,

The copyright link Sean has given you is the US Copyright Office in Washington USA.

If you're seriously contemplating being a board games inventor, or copying someone else's game, then you would do well to read up on Copyright law as is practised in the UK.

Click on this link;
http://www.intellectual-property.gov.uk ... t/what.htm

What appears misleading in the USA article is it commences; 'The idea for a game is not protected'. That's correct in as much as NO IDEA is protected until it becomes a physical entity. For example, if you have an idea for a game and make a prototype, the prototype gains automatic copyright. Look at any published board game on the market and you'll see a Copyright printed on the box.

The moment the game 'Escape from Atlantis' was invented, copyright existed. It protects the inventor from others who would copy the game and capitalise on the invention. 'End of Atlantis' is clearly a CD copy of 'Escape from Atlantis'. Therefore I conclude, it is in breach of current UK Copyright law.

You Harald are free to take the IDEA of a game based on Atlantis, but you must invent something entirely different. If your version of Atlantis resembles anyone elses previous published version of Atlantis, then you're in Breach of Copyright. It's also useful to know that copyright extends until 70 years after the author's death!

Anyone who wants to publish their version of anyone elses product requires a licence. Sean has copied 3 games on this website. One of them is Risk. The copyright is owned by Hasbro, the world's biggest publisher of games. Yes, Sean requires a licence from Hasbro to market 'Risk as 'Conquest'.

Sean is right in that the name of a game is not copyright, but it can be Trademarked.

Why do I know all this Harald? I'll tell you why. I'm the inventor of 'Escape from Atlantis'. Click on the links to this game for proof.

I have written to Sean direct about my misgivings and await his reply.

Anyone who wishes to contact me regarding 'Escape from Atlantis', 'Survive' or 'Atlantis' can email at jcourtlandsmith@gmail.com.

Warm wishes,

BlueHippo
Alias Julian Courtland-Smith
Board Games Inventor
29th Oct 2005

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Brice Manuel
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Post by Brice Manuel » Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:01 pm

Look at any published board game on the market and you'll see a Copyright printed on the box.
Perhaps you should look at games more often. You cannot copyright an idea, you can only copyright the expression of an idea. If you went to the store and went to the board games section in any major department store, you would find: Sorry, Headache, Trouble, Aggravation, Parchesi. They are the exact same game, use the same rules, the only difference is Sorry is played with pawns, Aggravation uses marbles, etc. The same applies to other styles of games. Your local store is filled with what is essentially the same game put out by different manufacturers, all on shelves sitting literally inches from each other.

The copyright you see on the box, will only cover the box design, any graphics included in the game itself and any documentation. That is all that can be copyrighted.

You cannot copyright the ruleset to a game, nor can you copyright a title.

If you followed your lack of logic, little kids could not play basketball, baseball or football without being locked up in jail. Indie developers could not make baseball, football or basketball games.

Therefore I conclude, it is in breach of current UK Copyright law.
Perhaps you would do well to spend the $$ consulting a licensed copyright/patent attorney before you reduce yourself to falsely accusing somebody of copyright infringement.

You also should not criticize US Copyright law, as last time I checked, it was upheld by the UK along with the EU and many other countries in the UN.

If you want to protect the ruleset of your game, you would need a patent. Obtaining a patent can be quite expensive, for games its rather futile, because in all liklihood the game will be emulated while the Patent is still pending, and the patent would rarely be granted because it would no longer be unique as other companies would have put out the same game by the time your patent reaches the approval process.

I have written to Sean direct about my misgivings and await his reply.
Odd, I thought you just publicly flogged him. Bad-mouthing him privately is one thing, but you crossed the line doing it publicly and it is highly unprofessional and inappropriate.

I think Sean would be wise to consult an attorney and evaluate the possibility of a libel/slander suit.

My experience: I worked in the video game industry for over 20 years, and had the pleasure of working at Microprose for many years, before Infogrames bought it from Hasbro. And I often joke that I married my wife only because her father is a copyright/patent attorney. You never know when you will need free legal help, lol.

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Copyright

Post by BlueHippo » Tue Nov 01, 2005 7:20 pm

Hi Brice,

Thank you for your opinion. At least we agree you cannot copyright an IDEA, just the expression of that idea. My invention, ?Escape from Atlantis? is a board game based on the myth of Atlantis. Anyone else is free to invent a board game based on Atlantis.

What they are not entitled to do, under copyright law, is copy another person?s invention in part or whole. Would you not say ?End of Atlantis? is a copy of ?Escape from Atlantis?? Sean admits to copying my game, because he enjoyed playing it as a child.

A couple of quotes from the law on copyright might help to clarify matters. Quote: ?Copyright is infringed when any act is done without authorisation, whether directly or indirectly and whether the whole or a substantial part of a work is used.? ?End of Atlantis? has been produced without authorisation and uses a substantial part of ?Escape from Atlantis?, therefore infringes copyright.

Again; ?A substantial part is not defined in copyright law but has been interpreted by the courts to mean a qualitatively significant part of a work even where this is not a large part of the work. Therefore, it is quite likely that even a small portion of the whole work will still be a substantial part.? Take one look at Sean?s ?End of Atlantis? and compare it with ?Escape from Atlantis and I think any reasonable person would say a substantial part of my game has been copied. Therefore I conclude, yet again, that ?End of Atlantis? infringes my copyright. This is not a libellous remark as it?s true!

You say if you went to the board games section in any major department store, you would find: Sorry, Headache, Trouble, Aggravation, Parchesi. You state they are the EXACT same game, use the same rules, the only difference is Sorry is played with pawns, Aggravation uses marbles, etc.

I wonder if you?re aware that Parchisi is an old Indian game and known in the UK as Ludo? As Parchisi is several thousand years old, there is no copyright on this game. Anyone can produce a copy of Parchisi or any other old game such as chess. The same goes for the field games you list, which are all over 100 years old and do not, in themselves, come under copyright law.

Let me ask you this question. Why do you think Parker Brothers, Waddingtons and Hasbro sought a licence from me to market my game before manufacturing and distributing ?Survive?, ?Atlantis and ?Escape from Atlantis?? Why, if permission wasn?t required under the law of copyright, didn?t they simply copy it instead of paying me thousands in royalties?

Incidentally Brice, I wasn?t criticizing US Copyright law. I was pointing out to Harald, that Sean?s copyright link consists of just one page of US copyright law. A much clearer explanation of copyright law can be obtained from the UK government?s own website on Intellectual Property as it runs to several pages and is published in full.

Interested readers can click on this link and discover the true facts for themselves at; http://www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/ then see Copyright.

One final point, have you checked with Hasbro to see if they mind Sean copying their world famous game of ?Risk?? Perhaps Harald could be persuaded by you to market a CD version of Monopoly. Why don?t you Brice produce your CD version of Scrabble! and sell them on the Internet. I?m sure Mattel won?t say a word! ;o)

Sean is more than welcome to take your advice to consult an ?attorney? and evaluate the possibility of a libel/slander suit. Whilst there, he could also ask his lawyer about copyright law. I think he will very quickly find he?s made a big mistake.

You may feel free to reply to this post Brice. I on the other hand have nothing more to say or add. I wanted to write these letters for the benefit of Harald and other would be games inventors. I know how tough it can be starting out. I spent 17 years inventing games before I became successful and have now been associated with the business for 40 years. Knowing copyright law is part of the learning curve.

I would to thank Sean for allowing my correspondence to be published on his website.

Best wishes,

Julian Courtland-Smith
Inventor and Copyright Owner of ?Escape from Atlantis?.
1st Novemeber 2005

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Brice Manuel
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Post by Brice Manuel » Tue Nov 01, 2005 8:13 pm

Sean admits to copying my game, because he enjoyed playing it as a child.
He copied the ruleset and idea which cannot be copyrighted.

I wonder if you?re aware that Parchisi is an old Indian game and known in the UK as Ludo? As Parchisi is several thousand years old, there is no copyright on this game.
I am aware of that and a copyright would cover nothing, anyway. You cannot copyright the ruleset to a game or a game idea, that is a simple undeniable fact. If you want to protect the ruleset (the core game engine, game mechanics), you need a patent, not a copyright. You may not like it, but the law is the law and everybody must abide by the law and no one individual or business is above the law. You cannot twist the copyright law to meet your needs.

Copyright law is very specific about what can be copyrighted and where board games are concerned, you are stuck to only being able to copyright graphics, box design and documentation. You cannot copyright an idea, you cannot copyright rules to a game whether it is a finished game being marketed or a game that is still a WIP.

Your problem is arising because you do not understand the difference between a copyright, a trademark or a patent.

Why don?t you Brice produce your CD version of Scrabble! and sell them on the Internet. I?m sure Mattel won?t say a word! ;o)
Not me, I am retired, plus I hate word games :wink: . AFAIK Scrabble does not have a patent on the ruleset, so you are free to make a "scrabble-like" game if you wish. Scrabble is a trademark, so you naturally could not use the name, but if you wanted to use the rules, there is nothing stopping you.

If you wanted to make a Monopoly clone, then you would be in trouble, as the ruleset for monopoly has always been patented and therefore any clone would be illegal. The same with clones of Tetris, as the core logic of Tetris is patented (which is why legitimate online retailers will not sell tetris clones).

I do not know Sean, (other than a couple of emails) and was only made aware of his games when somebody recently made a copy of his game "Slay". I do not necessarily support what Sean did from a moral standpoint, but from a legal standpoint he did nothing wrong. If Sean had violated copyright, trademark law or patent law, I would be the first in line standing up for you, Julian. I have nothing against you or Sean.

On another note, Sean has made people like myself, aware of the original game (I wasn't into board games back then) and if Amazon or another major retailer still carried it, I would happily buy the original "Atlantis" just to have the joy of playing it and add it to my ever growing collection of board games.

Perhaps, Julian, you should hire a programmer to create an "official" version of Atlantis for the computer?

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Post by Guest » Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:26 am

well my only thought on all this is it "may" become
a "financial" problem for end of atlantis whether either
is right or wrong as court costs can accrue wether you
win or lose you can't recoup that most cases...similar
to the attempts to bankrupt the firearms industry....
they dont even have to have the case come to court
they just keep filing "frivilous" lawsuits and the defender
has to pay his own court costs...

im NOT saying this would be frivilous but it could be messy...

it would be a shame though since the orgiinal
is "out of print?" why not let this one slide this time
mr. owner of the original?

wook

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Atlantis!

Post by Guest » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:57 am

Hi Wook,

As you can read above, Brice and I basically agree to disagree. Between us there is nothing more to discuss regarding copyright law. As Brice lives in America he can get a copy of 'Survive!' for his games collection on Ebay! Personally, I think 'Escape from Atlantis' by Waddingtons is the best version of the game, also available on Ebay. LOL

I have written to Sean privately and await his reply. My guess is he'll not reply nor come to the forum. Why do you think he remains silent? Were I in Sean's shoes and believed I could copy other inventor's products and get away with it, I'd be up here arguing my case.

I have made Sean an offer he'd be wise to accept. If he decides to decline my offer then this argument WILL move onto the the next phase which will be legal. As you say this can be messy and costly, that's up to Sean.

Remember, Sean hasn't just got me to deal with. There's also Hasbro who will in due course take a dim view of him copying 'Risk!. Then there's the publicity. 'Bad press'? Who knows! Yes, it can get very messy for him.

Let me tell you Wook why I WON'T let 'this one slide'.

BRIEF HISTORY
I spent two years of my life working on the original prototype of the game. Parker Brothers in America marketed the game as 'Survive!' in 1982. Their name choice, not mine. Survive! was a 2-Dimentional game. When PB dropped the product, I developed the game further and made it into a 3-D game. Waddington's liked it and marketed it for a number of years. Both companies sub-licensed the game so that it went on sale all over the world. Hasbro bought out Waddingtons. The game was relaunched in 1997 in Europe by Hasbro and dropped in the year 2000.

Hasbro's subsidary, Hasbro Interactive, were very interested in making a CD version of the game. Unfortunately, before this could be done, the company was sold. Since then I have looked to a major manufacture to market either the board game or a CD version of it.

Sean has come along, without a license, and pre-empted my plans. Every company I dealt with over the years had a Licensing Agreement. Had Hasbro Interactive marketed my game they too would have been required BY LAW to seek a Licensing Agreement or run the risk of infringment.

Yes, the original game is out of print, as are the other versions. That's why I have an Agent who's job it is to place the game with another company. Brice's suggestion that I produce it myself in CD format is not the way I wish to go forward on this. A major manufacterer is more likely to sell the game in the hundreds of thousands than I am.

Do you think it's morally OK for Sean to market other people's games and not pay them royalites? My copyright is valid until 70 years after my death. I would like to see my children and my grandchildren inherit and prosper from my inventions. So, I'm not giving an inch on this and will fight my corner wherever I find someone cashing in on my games!

Jules
'Mr Owner of the original' (Like the title!) ;o)

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Brice Manuel
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Post by Brice Manuel » Wed Nov 02, 2005 5:26 pm

Let me preface this by reaffirming I have nothing against Sean or Julian. I am simply debating with Julian, I am not trying to put him or his work down. Our only disagreement is that you cannot copyright the ruleset to a game. And that is not a disagreement, as much as it is you chosing to ignore Copyright law, or rewrite it to suit your own needs.

Julian: Your game (the board version) is also freely available online, you can print out the instructions, print out the game pieces and the game board & tiles. That is indeed 100% piracy and 100% illegal. No argument there.

believed I could copy other inventor's products
Unfortunately, it appears you never cared enough about the product in question to seek a patent to protect the ruleset. A Copyright does not protect that aspect, and that aspect is what is in question here.

You cannot copyright an idea, only the expression of an idea. In a game, the "idea" is the "ruleset". The "expression of an idea" is the "finished product". The ruleset can only be protected by a patent.

Remember, Sean hasn't just got me to deal with. There's also Hasbro who will in due course take a dim view of him copying 'Risk!.
There is nothing wrong with copying RISK, that is perfectly legal, but what is NOT legal is Sean using the name "RISK" in descriptions and advertisement for his game. And Hasbro may be upset and persue that, although Sean's "use" of the names, does fall under the "Fair Use" clause of Trademark law.

The same with using the name "Stratego" in any descriptions or advertisement.

Brice's suggestion that I produce it myself in CD format is not the way I wish to go forward on this. A major manufacterer is more likely to sell the game in the hundreds of thousands than I am.
You clearly have no understanding of the industry. Anybody producing a CD format of this game, would be lucky to even break even in costs. CD versions of games like this do not really sell very well. Several years ago, they tried to market CD retail versions of Monopoly, Scrabble and a few other board games. They were a flop, to get rid of the excess stock of hundreds of thousands of CDs, they gave away the full retail versions CDs free in boxes of cereal.

Julian, the largest selling games right now for home computers are desktop games. And the retail market for such games is via online sales. Indie developers who make a decent desktop game can easily make five-figures per year. I know of some who are making six-figures per year.

Julian, Atlantis is a very good game, and you have done a great job on it. But the market has changed quite a bit since it was first released. If you made a desktop version of Atlantis with decent graphics, and sold it online you could make quite a bit of money off of it, and continue to do so over the coming years.

My copyright is valid until 70 years after my death.
Which brings us back to you CANNOT copyright the ruleset to a game, that is not something that can be copyrighted. That is something that can only be patented.
Last edited by Brice Manuel on Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by TheKangaroo » Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:37 pm

Why do you think he remains silent?

Right now I think he is either quite busy or researching the law to see whether or not you're right as it would be pretty pointless to just argue like two fighting dogs, but anyway, it's none of my business.

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sid6.7
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Post by sid6.7 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 1:33 am

wow i had no idea this was a problem unless it was a DIRECT
copy to copy thing, name, rules, pieces, banners...etc...verbatim?

there are ten of 1,000's of copies like this
everywhere...i can show you at least a dozen
"commerical" "risks"...that i know of...and i know
of dozens of others that are not "commerical" in
fact 100's...just type in risk in yahoo and you'll see...

as for end of atlantis i dont know... i've never seen the
game before seans...

well this is depressing and will probably shut down most of the site
which really sucks...

not too happy with this, i love seans games and i like sean too...

but i digress... one thing about law is its rarely fair...

i wonder though why a person a would tattle though on games
that are not part of thier personal complaint against sean..would
that be revenge? vendetta?

by all means defend your own rights but dont stoop so low
as to do the other...
if you run..you'll only die tired

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Post by Old Man Johnson » Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:48 am

Likewise. I've never thought about it that way before. But whatever. I don't understand most of it anyway. :lol:
My webcomic:
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