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Re: (TFT) Open Source TFT

--- Ty Beard <tybeard@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

> But if we restate every single rule, we go a long ways towards
> avoiding 
> any unintentional copyright infringement.

No offense Ty, but I think you're treading on thin ice with this
approach. This method is strikingly similar to the students in one of
my C programming classes who tried to avoid plagiarism by changing
every variable name on each line of the software "borrowed" from
someone who had already solved the assignment. 

They argued it wasn't plagiarism because the code was completely
different. Once I explained to the discipline committee that the
logic of the software had not changed, and that the efforts of the
students were merely to mask the similarity, there was no doubt it
was plagiarism (i.e., not their own work). The students failed the
course as per the university rules of plagiarism.

The rules of plagiarism tend to be explained in detail at each
university, and it is not the same thing as copyright. The two
principles are based on the same ethical issue of protecting the
rights of the original creator. 

My gut feeling is that by re-doing the entire rule set of TFT with
most of the rules being identical, just paraphrased in the manner you
are suggesting, it would be hard to justify that there was anything
new or different and it wasn't a copyright violation. Similar cases
have popped up with musical melodies, lyrics, etc. and if I recall
correctly, a judge (or jury) had to decide about the similarity as it
was subjective.

Bottom line: seems a bit risky to me from this standpoint. 

However, the other tack might be to say that if nobody is interested
in the IP, then what are the risks? Expending energy paraphrasing is
wasteful. You said that penalties are severe for copyright violation,
but I had always thought it would come down to suing for lost
revenues or in the best case, a cease-and-decist order. If we're
talking open-source rules, then there should be no $ involved. You
can't buy the product now, so nobody would be losing money if the
stuff was available (perhaps Ebay could argue about that). 

The penalties for extending (or altering, which is what I think we
are trying to do here to keep it alive) the TFT rules are the risk
that should be considered. If the IP owner has disappeared, then
perhaps these risks are minimal. I am not encourageing anyone to do
anything illegal. 

I'm reminded of the ogre computer game (unix) that was released on
Usenet in the 1980s. Apparently it was not legal - I remember reading
that the author "mistakenly" distributed it to the general public. It
may have even been distributed with some Sun OS distributions - I
know it was on our system when I was in college. Steve Jackson Games
still sells Ogre, so they have an interest in not having stuff
floating around that takes money potentially away from paying their
staff, etc. 

Today, with Google, one can still get a copy of that ogre software
written in C. But that's technically illegal. If I were to decide to
take that source code and just modify it to a Java version and then
distribute it, it would surely be copyright infringement. Steve
Jackson would probably not be happy.

Just some ideas... 

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