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Svenmeister

Turning board games into Video games

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Svenmeister    100
Hello,

Don't know if this is the right board to post this question, anyways I was wondering about copyrights of board games.

Can you take old board games and turn them into video games without violating any copyright laws? Is there a website were you can check this?

Wanna turn some old board games into iPhone/iPad games but want to know if it's legal before i'm starting.

Greetz,
Sven

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TheTroll    883
Game play can not have a copyright. Now there are a few patents on game play but very few. Also I don't know of a single case in which a person was sued over a game play patent.

Now, what is protected, is the images, text and titles of the game. So if you change the names, and images then you should be pretty safe from loosing in court.

The problem is that many of these game makers are very protective of their games and will sue you even if they would loose in court. Do you have the money to defend yourself in court? I am guessing most likely not. Remember, they are paying their lawyers even if they are not suing anyone. So it doesn't really cost them much to come sue you.

theTroll

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kdog77    229
The actual design of the board can be subject to copyright protection. The rules and methods of play are generally not protected under US copyright, but you need to be careful as the description or expression of those rules can be protected under copyright. Also famous designs and words associated with the game may be protected as trademarks.

Apple follows a pretty strict takedown policy on IP infringement, so you could release a clone and have it pulled down pretty quickly if the owner of the original game complains to them. So why not come up with an original board game for the iphone/ipad? Seems like a safer strategy don't you think?

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Svenmeister    100
Thanks for the replies!

It's that I love some of the old board games that I played as a kid. These board games aren't on the iPhone or any other platform and probably will never be :( Wanted to make the apps free btw.

To bad that the risk of being sued is to high. Time to think up one of my own :P

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SimonForsman    7642
Quote:
Original post by Svenmeister
Thanks for the replies!

It's that I love some of the old board games that I played as a kid. These board games aren't on the iPhone or any other platform and probably will never be :( Wanted to make the apps free btw.

To bad that the risk of being sued is to high. Time to think up one of my own :P


You could also contact the company that made those boardgames and work something out, you don't tend to get sued if you have permission.

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Tom Sloper    16040
Quote:
Original post by justicar
Easier said than done. My experience has been that many, many companies make it all but impossible to contact the appropriate person.

My experience is that when approached in a businesslike manner by someone with a good business proposition, they make it very easy to get in touch with the appropriate person.

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frob    44904
Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Quote:
Original post by justicar
Easier said than done. My experience has been that many, many companies make it all but impossible to contact the appropriate person.

My experience is that when approached in a businesslike manner by someone with a good business proposition, they make it very easy to get in touch with the appropriate person.


QFT.

If you send an email to Hasbro asking for permission to make Scrabble or Risk clone it will be ignored. That isn't how it is done, and shows ignorance of the world of business. These properties are owned by multi-billion-dollar businesses, and they expect their partners to be on the same field. They license to companies like EA, and before that, with Infogrames.

Any major game that you can find across the globe will have very significant, very valuable, intellectual property. The fact that you even know about the brand is evidence of that.



Getting back to asking permission.

First, copyright. Has it been out of print since 1923, or before 1977 without ever having appropriate legal notices? Next, trademark. Has the game and all related brands been dead to trade for long enough that trademarks were not and cannot be renewed? Unless you know the answer to both of these, you need permission.

When it comes to permission, you need to offer them something. Normally that means a combination of (1) money or services to the IP owner, (2) a business plan that demonstrates you can bring your product to market, and (3) evidence that it will strengthen their brand. Very rarely companies will let hobbyists proceed with just the last two or even just the last one, but it is the exception.

An example is the "Race for the Galaxy" game, where the game developer and Rio Grande Games gave permission when a student developed a game with their AI. He didn't need permission to just develop it because he didn't release it. Once he planned on releasing it, he contacted the owners, showed them what it was, demonstrated that it cost them nothing and helped their brand, then the IP owners granted permission for public release of their assets. Because they saw the potential to greatly improve value and sales, they even licensed images to him.

Note, however, that for every one story like this there are perhaps hundreds of stories where permission was denied and legal processes (such as C&D letters and takedown notices) were invoked.

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