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Can gameplay be copyrighted?
Trent Gamblin
Member #261
April 2000
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So I submitted the Allegro 5 demo game, a5teroids, to the Mac App Store (as a free game), and the game was rejected. The following line from the notice is important:

Quote:

The app contains copyrighted materials, namely gameplay like the game Astroids, that may infringe on rights owned by Atari.

I was under the impression that gameplay couldn't be copyrighted. Am I wrong? If that's the case then every game from the past 20 years is infringing on some other game... anybody know more about this?

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
avatar

I think gameplay falls under "ideas", which can't be copyrighted. In other words, the guy who decided that is an asshat.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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Certain aspects can be, like the title, the graphics, the level design, etc.

Trent Gamblin
Member #261
April 2000
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Assuming I were to change the title, what would remain that infringes on Atari copyrights? The graphics aren't the same... level design, well, what can I do about that? There really isn't really much to the level design. Mine has a moon and there's doesn't IIRC.

Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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I looked and there are asteroids clones on the App Store, although they are more advanced. Changing the name is definitely going to be required.

Specter Phoenix
Member #1,425
July 2001
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I don't think level design can be copyrighted. I can't remember the game but there was a espionage spoof type game where it used the Tanker level from Metal Gear Solid 2 in a level but gave it different textures. As far as I know they didn't get any flack from Konami (who had the MGS license at the time because it was before Kojima Productions was created).

"Can't a man even talk to himself without being interrupted?" -Krull(1983)
"Through vengence I was born. Through war I was trained. Through love I was found. Through death I was released. Through release I was given a purpose." -- Specter Phoenix
"Programming == AWESOME the rest is just tools to accomplish it."
END OF LINE

MiquelFire
Member #3,110
January 2003
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That or Konami didn't know about the game.

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AMCerasoli
Member #11,955
May 2010
avatar

Wow, I wonder if they have some kind of "automated" system to detect similarities in the title or game description.

Your game title matches almost perfectly the name Asteroids, so I think that triggered the alarm.

Asteroids
A5teroids

Maybe other matches in the descriptions and you put your game on the spotlight. Just change the name and check out the description, and there will be no problem.............. Trust me... I have tons of games in the appstore ::);D

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
avatar

The other day I ran into this thread from a long time ago. It's basically the same question. :)

Trent Gamblin
Member #261
April 2000
avatar

Ok, well doing a little research and reading this, it seems that gameplay cannot be copyrighted, but you may nevertheless get #$(*@ed over royally by the original studio.

Anyway, we've decided to do something almost completely different with the game, and I already started coding it. It's better than Asteroids anyway...

AMCerasoli
Member #11,955
May 2010
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I wonder how did you get into a eight years old thread... ;D

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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I wonder how did you get into a eight years old thread... ;D

Good question. I was actually wondering what Richard Phipps was up to since we haven't seen him in a long time :'(. I thought that by perusing through old threads I could find something.

[edit] He was part of the crew that, from what I remember, wanted to make a more serious venture out of making games... so I was looking into that storyline to see what transpired for him.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
avatar

There's this wonderful new thing called Google...

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

AMCerasoli
Member #11,955
May 2010
avatar

Hmmmm... Do you know who haven't been here for a while neither?... Roy... Neil Roy... Agent nº2,229.

Name: Neil Roy
Member since: 04/17/2002 4:27 AM
Country: Canada
Status: Missing

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
avatar

There's this wonderful new thing called Google... [www.google.co.nz]

Not a lot going on there... a few inconsequential tweets and links to threads from 2006.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
avatar

I didn't check. I just now tried advanced search to limit results to the past year and found a thread from 2007. RIP google. I'll miss you. Too bad DuckDuckGo is so limited.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

verthex
Member #11,340
September 2009
avatar

I think the guy who rejected it didn't understand the word "gameplay" and he was actually referring to the level design of the game. BTW the game itself is very simple so not making something like asteroids is very hard to do. It would be like remaking chess. Copyrighting that is impossible but its probably because your game is a clone of it and usually copyrights only protect ideas in the context of what they are in not something that goes beyond the original idea. I could copyright a circle for 30 dollars and get a piece of paper showing the US copyright office has approved my submission (No kidding). But is that idea original... no and as soon as I tried to sue people for using a circle I would lose to every book publisher on geometry and even Euclid would roll in his grave.

Now if you're SNK you can do this
Guerilla war:

video

Iron tank:

video

Trent Gamblin
Member #261
April 2000
avatar

Cookies >:(

piccolo
Member #3,163
January 2003
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wow i would have flagged Guerilla war as copyright infringement the game play and level is identical to a 2 player game from Nintendo days.

wow
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i am who you are not am i

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
avatar

Nobody has mentioned patents...?[1] Copyright only covers things like specific combinations of words, and specific images and things. Trademarks cover names of things and branding, so you can't pass off a fake as a legit piece (legally). Patents are supposed to be about inventions, but software patents exist, so in theory the game of Asteroids could have been "patented". It's possible the n00b assigned to review your game just got his terminology wrong, but more than likely the people reviewing apps for Apple just don't know what they're talking about and took a guess, siding against the app. :P Check Wikipedia for an introduction to the differences between and scopes of copyright, trademark, and patent law; then consult a lawyer if you care to.

References

  1. Intoxicated and too lazy to re-read the thread, but /search says no.
Trent Gamblin
Member #261
April 2000
avatar

Strangely Apple has approved the game on iOS. I guess due to the tilt based controls, they feel it's different enough that it doesn't infringe on Atari copyrights. Either that or the reviewer had a different opinion. It was in review for a long time, so I think it might have been discussed but that's just a guess.

Schyfis
Member #9,752
May 2008
avatar

Apple will approve anything.

I think you'll be fine, but changing the name is a must. Atari will go after anything with even a passing resemblance to Asteroids.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________
[freedwill.us]
[unTied Games]

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
avatar

Schyfis said:

Atari will go after anything with even a passing resemblance to Asteroids.

Welp, I guess they'll have to make Pluto a planet again.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

verthex
Member #11,340
September 2009
avatar

I just got a copyright infringement notice from scribd for Randal Hydes art of assembler. I did it to exchange for another file.

Specter Phoenix
Member #1,425
July 2001
avatar

Then scientists should have the grounds to sue Atari as they were using the term asteroids way before Atari made the game.

"Can't a man even talk to himself without being interrupted?" -Krull(1983)
"Through vengence I was born. Through war I was trained. Through love I was found. Through death I was released. Through release I was given a purpose." -- Specter Phoenix
"Programming == AWESOME the rest is just tools to accomplish it."
END OF LINE

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