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Re: Rules for submitting licenses for review

On Sat, 2005-08-27 at 11:11 -0700, Sean Kellogg wrote: 
> but aside from that, you would need a license if you intend to just copy the 
> d20 system (or create a derivative thereof).

I think there is a miscommunication here: I think Ken is not talking
about copying the d20 system but, for example, making a game system that
is compatible with the d20 system rules. Of course, copying the d20
system, text and all, would clearly be copyright violation, but would
using the d20 mechanic, the d20 attributes or some other mechanical
aspect of the d20 system be copyright infringement.

I would argue not.

> If you still think that game mechanics are not copyrightable, can you point me 
> to some authority to support your claim.  I'd be interested to see how they 
> are distinguished from things like cookbooks (which are copyrighted).

AFAIK, there is no pre-existing case law that demonstrates that game
mechanics are or are not copyrightable. There have been cases of people
being brought to court for making compatible rules (Palladium I believe
did this) but I think the case was settled out of court. I would also
note that there is a long history in the RPG industry of publishing
games with mechanics that are identical if not the same as Dungeons and

That said, I would argue that, in the same way you cannot copyright
mathematical formula, you cannot copyright game mechanics, only their
representations. For example, you can copyright cookbooks, but I don't
think you can copyright the mere recipes themselves.

Kind regards...

Ricardo Gladwell <ricardo.gladwell@gmail.com>

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