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RE: (TFT) Steve Jackson's Thoughts

> -----Original Message-----
> From: tft-owner@brainiac.com [mailto:tft-owner@brainiac.com]On Behalf Of
> Dave Seagraves
> Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2000 14:37
> Dave Seagraves
>  "The game itself can't be copyrighted, only a particular
> /description/ of the game can be copyrighted."

This is true as far as it goes, but the proper term is 'expression' rather
than 'description' (it applies to more than just text).  The law as it
applies specifically to games is untested, but it does pretty much say what
you claim.

>    This is how I've side-stepped copyright law when I posted
> /Interplay/ and
> other magazine material to this list.  I took the given game mechanic
> (talent, spell, or whatever) and rewrote it in my own words so there's no
> legal problem.

That isn't entirely true - one can be guilty of creating a derivative work
even if none of the words are the same.  The format, layout, and flow of the
document can also be used to argue copyright infringement.  They are much
less rigorous tests so they are harder to prove, but it can be done.

> Rewriting them was a good idea anyway, since most were so
> terribly written and (according to HT) not edited at all.

Not to mention two decades worth of refinements by dedicated fans!  The more
original material you contribute to the work, the better your case that the
work is deserving of copyright protection.

So, your handling of copyright issues begs the question: Why not release a
combined Melee/Wizard updated for the 21st century written in your own words
and format, but with the same basic mechanics of TFT?  Then you can spend
the $2-5k you would have spent on licensing on something like printing &
publication.  It won't fix the problems of Cidri, the Mnoren and Prootwadles
still being Howard Thompson's IP, but it will get a fresh version of TFT out
for everyone to enjoy.

Also, have you considered releasing the material under the FSF's Free
Documentation License or the new Open Gaming License?  Either of these
copy-left style licenses would guarantee that no single person ever gained
control of TFT ever again.


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