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Haladria

copyright game rules?

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Hello I'm about to make a game but needs to ask some questions about copyright first... Can you copyright rules of a game? The rules i'm interested in are the rules in Dungeons and Dragons. I know the text's of DnD are copyrighted and the names are trademarked but how about the rules? Are you allowed to use the same rule-based system in your game if you just don't copy any texts or use any names they own? I've tried to google but only found this: "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. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in the development, merchandising, or playing of a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles." http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html By reading that I get the impression that the rules cannot be copyrighted, but why would many game developers buy the rights to use DnD rules in games then? /Robert

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Look at board games and how similar their rules are. If Parker Brothers put a copyright on "roll the die [...] and move n spaces," board games would need to find a way to get around the copyright. Even if they tried to sue, the court would find that Parker Brothers was attempting to form a Monopoly, and in real life, nobody acquires $200 when they pass go.

I'm not a legal expert but games wouldn't survive if they couldn't inherit generic aspects. The quote you provided seems to allow you to borrow ideas.

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Quote:
Original post by /Robert
Can you copyright rules of a game? The rules i'm interested in are the rules in Dungeons and Dragons. I know the text's of DnD are copyrighted and the names are trademarked but how about the rules? Are you allowed to use the same rule-based system in your game if you just don't copy any texts or use any names they own?

Most of us equate "rules" with "rules text." And as you correctly surmised, their rules text is copyrighted. The thing you're asking about is the "method of play." You should look to find out whether the D&D method of play has been patented. And if you decide to try to make a game using the identical method of play, you should fear a lawsuit. Your lawyer can advise you better, but essentially you need to make sure that your method of play is not identical in every way to that of D&D.
Don't forget that copyright and trademark are not the only forms of IP protection - don't overlook patent.

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Thanks for your reply, both of you :)

I didn't know you could patent how to play a game... I will read a more about that and hope things will get clear.

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Reading is always good. Try a political science professor if you're at a university. Some tend to have a J.D. They may not be too much help with respect to video games, but it's free legal advice!

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