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Old 06-25-2004, 07:07 AM   #1
Dre
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Heya legal experts,

I have been pondering about a mini-game in my mud. Basically it will be a game in a game (right, that's a mini game I think).

However some questions arose now that I am designing the game which I want to ask you.

1) I use merc codebase, I make the game available in the mud, will it now be under the Merc license? This is important if I think the game is "commercially viable", or in other words, if I can use it in another environment to earn from it.

2) I don't want anyone to use my idea for this game to make any other version of it, not in software but not in "hardware" either (ie. make a boardgame of it). Will a copyright suffice here, or should I take other legal actions?

Don't get me wrong, I have nor the inclination or the idea that my mini-game will be so great everyone wants to copy it, however I wanna make sure it won't happen. (if anyone makes a profit of this, then it should be me or my mud )

Thanks in advance,
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Old 06-25-2004, 07:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dre,June 25 2004,06[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]7]
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Originally Posted by
Heya legal experts,
Just a point: This is NOT the place to go for legal experts. If you're serious about being commercially viable, contact an experienced intellectual property attorney. I'd be glad to refer you to an excellent one in the US, if that's where you are based.

Having said that, I've had to deal with these sorts of issues a fair bit in the course of building Iron Realms into what it is today.

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1) I use merc codebase, I make the game available in the mud, will it now be under the Merc license? This is important if I think the game is "commercially viable", or in other words, if I can use it in another environment to earn from it.
Yes, it would absolutely be under the Merc license. You're using the Merc codebase to make the game/mini-game.

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2) I don't want anyone to use my idea for this game to make any other version of it, not in software but not in "hardware" either (ie. make a boardgame of it). Will a copyright suffice here, or should I take other legal actions?
You can't copyright the fundamentals of a game. You can copyright or trademark/servicemark specifics, but the game design is beyond that protection.

--matt
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Old 06-25-2004, 08:20 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ June 25 2004,12:28)
Yes, it would absolutely be under the Merc license. You're using the Merc codebase to make the game/mini-game.
That is absolutely true - however if he's created the minigame from scratch, completely independantly of the mud, then the minigame itself would only fall under the licence once integrated. He could later take a (prior to being integrated with Merc) copy of the minigame and use it commercially if he so desired (eg, by installing it into a commercialling-usable codebase).

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You can't copyright the fundamentals of a game. You can copyright or trademark/servicemark specifics, but the game design is beyond that protection.
He might be able to patent parts of the minigame, if he's got a few thousand dollars to blow.
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Old 06-25-2004, 09:02 AM   #4
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Yes, it would absolutely be under the Merc license. You're using the Merc codebase to make the game/mini-game.
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Originally Posted by
That is absolutely true - however if he's created the minigame from scratch, completely independantly of the mud, then the minigame itself would only fall under the licence once integrated.
Well the mini game will be integrated (that's the point of it), and I'll implement it in c. So in fact I could develop it apart from the mud, and later integrate it. I'm not using the codebase to make it (ie I don't use functions that are in there for it).


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You can't copyright the fundamentals of a game. You can copyright or trademark/servicemark specifics, but the game design is beyond that protection.


He might be able to patent parts of the minigame, if he's got a few thousand dollars to blow.
Ok that's why I asked this here. To be clear, I don't have a few thousand dollars (what currency is that anyway? ) but I don't have a few thousand euro's for it either.

What I am worried about is that I implement the game, somebody sees it, makes a flash version or whatever and puts it online. I just want exclusive rights on my game idea. However I have no idea if this falls under copyright or not.

As I hardly have any legal education, I don't know what I can do to keep something for my mud alone. Just to make a point, I heard a while back that the Settlers of Catan rights were bought by MicroSoft so they can make a version for MSN. So what rights are those? And is that costly to get?

Thanks for the answers so far.
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Old 06-25-2004, 09:40 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by (Dre @ June 25 2004,14:02)
Well the mini game will be integrated (that's the point of it), and I'll implement it in c. So in fact I could develop it apart from the mud, and later integrate it. I'm not using the codebase to make it (ie I don't use functions that are in there for it).
To be safe, I would recommend you develop it completely separately, and only integrate it once you've completed it.

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Ok that's why I asked this here. To be clear, I don't have a few thousand dollars (what currency is that anyway? ) but I don't have a few thousand euro's for it either.
Well you can't officially patent software in Europe, so you can ignore that point then.

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Originally Posted by
What I am worried about is that I implement the game, somebody sees it, makes a flash version or whatever and puts it online. I just want exclusive rights on my game idea. However I have no idea if this falls under copyright or not.
Ideas aren't protected by copyright law - so there's nothing stopping someone from creating their own version of your game. That's a "good thing" IMO though - if people could protect game ideas, then you probably wouldn't have been allowed to have created your mud in the first place.

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Just to make a point, I heard a while back that the Settlers of Catan rights were bought by MicroSoft so they can make a version for MSN. So what rights are those? And is that costly to get?
They've bought a license to use the Settlers of Catan trademarks (the names, logos, etc) and copyrighted material. Without that licence they could still create the same style of game, but they would have to call it something else, and would have to phrase the rules differently, use different graphics/images, and so on.

You may find this of interest: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html
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Old 06-25-2004, 09:52 AM   #6
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You may find this of interest: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html
Yep, very interesting.

I think I get it now (finally).

It doesn't really matter if I make it in my mud, as the game idea will never be protected. So if I want to create a flash version of it for the website, then I'd just be using the idea of the game and implement it in another way and therefor don't violate the merc license even if I would charge for that version.

Therefor the first question doesn't really matter anymore as implementing it within the code of the mud will still keep the game idea open for everyone else. However I can't use the mud version to make money (which wasn't the intent anyway).

Thank you!
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Old 06-26-2004, 06:25 AM   #7
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If you program a concept into a merc base, debug/enhance it with player feedback, no law stops you from programming the same thing (except merc specific utility functions) into a different base.

You should only apply the strict implementation rules Kavir mentioned when you code something based (even partial) on the ideas and implementations of someone else.

It should be obvious you don't lose your copyrights the moment you implement something into a merc base. So I don't think you need to worry, unless this mini game involves killing computer simulated players for experience, etc.
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