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Re: patents on Frets on Fire, Pydance, StepMania and such games

On Jan 18, 2008 10:22 AM, Miriam Ruiz <little.miry@gmail.com> wrote:
> Tom "spot" Callaway, from Red Hat, announced [1] that Fedora won't be
> including any game of the kind of Frets on Fire, Stepmania, pydance,
> digiband, or anything of the kind of DDR or Guitar Hero, due to patent
> concerns [2].
> """
> Due to patent concerns, we won't be able to include any games in Fedora
> which meet the following criteria:
> A game where "targets" move across the screen to a predetermined point
> or line, where the player hits a button/key/mouse click as the target(s)
> crosses that point or line, and gets points.

>From the Fedora mailing list thread, it looks like this is referring
to US patent 6347998 (see
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6347998.html), held by Konami.

The main claim reads as follows (see
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6347998-fulltext.html for all

1. A game system comprising:

an input apparatus which is manipulated by a player;

performance data memory device which stores performance data
stipulating a series of manipulations of said input apparatus arranged
in correspondence with a predetermined musical piece;

manipulation guide device which specifies the series of manipulations
of said input apparatus arranged in correspondence with said musical
piece to the player based on said performance data;

said performance data comprising information which specifies timings
of manipulations relating to at least one timing manipulation member
provided on said input apparatus, and information which specifies at
least one selection manipulation member to be manipulated in
correspondence with the manipulation of said timing manipulation
member from a plurality of selection manipulation members provided on
said input apparatus;

The crucial point in all that gobbledigook is the reference to a
"musical piece". Ditto the other claims in the patent.

So even if this patent is valid, it isn't as broad as simply "clicking
a button when a target crosses the line".

Though I agree that software patents are evil and that this completely
sucks, it isn't quite as bad as the Fedora discussion makes out (rough
paraphrase: "They just banned Pong!" ;-) ). Plus Fedora's policy on
these issues is driven by Red Hat, which (as a listed corporation) has
to take a very conservative line on patent infringement.

I haven't been able to find out whether there are any equivalent
patents outside the US, so it may be this is a US-only (or perhaps
Japan also) patent. What is Debian's policy as regards software that
is encumbered by patents in one jurisdiction but not others?



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