Skip to Content

Do I lose author rights if I make the rules available online?

6 replies [Last post]
Koatl
Offline
Joined: 11/26/2012

Hello,
I am new here, so this may be a stupid question, but I need to know it. Let's say I make a simple but very original abstract game and I want to make money and fame out of it by having someone publish it. Let's suppose farther, I don't ask individual publishers, and make the game public on the internet instead, publishing its rules in a blog for example, or even lettting people play it online with the computer opponent or so.

The question is, what if a game publisher happens to like the game and wants to publish it? Are they obligated in some way to ask me for permission and make an agreement with me? Or they don't need to do such things because the game is already public and the idea becomes public domain?
And what's the real practice in such situations?

pelle
pelle's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/11/2008
welcome

Ideas are always public domain, unless patented, but very few boardgames are patented and very few designers will tell you that it is worth the cost. Copyright will protect your artwork and exact text of a rulebook.

Mandatory bgg forum link:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/493249/mythbusting-game-design-and-copyr...

SLiV
SLiV's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/21/2011
Ideas cost nothing.

Concepts cannot be copyrighted, just text and artwork.

So no, you don't lose any 'author rights' by publishing something online; you don't gain any rights by not posting it online, either.

Koatl
Offline
Joined: 11/26/2012
Confused

This makes me confused.

Pelle: "Ideas are always public domain"
SLiV: "you don't gain any rights by not posting it online"
vs.
BGG guy: "You are automatically protected when your work is published (i.e. offered to the public)."

So what's the direct answer to my question "Are they obligated in some way to ask me for permission and make an agreement with me?" ? I suppose you are telling me I shouldn't post it online if I want to profit from the idea?

pelle
pelle's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/11/2008
it's ok

There is no contradiction. Your work (graphics, text) is automatically protected. Your idea is not protected.

I don't think there is any legal reason for them to ask for permission, but they do it to keep good relations with designers, and because the publisher is likely to need many hours of work from the designer to complete the game anyway (it will probably be more expensive to pay someone else to figure out all the details of your design and complete it). The publisher is likely to pay for all the graphics and rules writing, so they will own all the copyrights (unless they share them with you as part of signing some contract; not sure how common that is). Also if your idea is that good, the publisher will want you on their team, making new great games for them.

As for anyone here stealing your idea, I think it is safe to say that everyone here has at least 10-100 great ideas in their backlog, and no matter what your idea is all of us will think "nah, I have 5-50 ideas better than that I work on anyway, why bother?". So many great ideas out there, and until your game is already published and a big hit, your biggest risk is that no one will look at your game, not that someone will steal your idea (although of course there is always a risk).

Also, we can help you point at similar games to your idea, which will help you in completing the game and someone is likely to give you good feedback that will help you improve it. It is difficult to get that without talking about what you have.

Have seen many, many threads like this one in the last 10 years on this forum and on bgg, and almost every time the new designer decides to not reveal his fantastic new idea. Then I never hear about that designer or game again. I doubt more and more that secrecy is a good strategy.

Koatl
Offline
Joined: 11/26/2012
Hehe

OK, thank you for the answer, I must now consider wheather I have myself and my game disappear into obscurity, or show the game publicly and see if someone reacts. In fact, the game is already completed in its Flash online version.

SLiV
SLiV's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/21/2011
I agree with Pelle

The risk of no one knowing about your game is much more probable and 'severe' than that of people stealing your idea.

What I meant by "you don't gain any rights by not posting it" is this: if you post something, people might copy your idea. If you don't post anything and then start selling, people might still copy your idea. Also, if you don't post anything, people might have a similar idea and talk about it before you do, making it seem like you copied *their* idea (when in reality, no one copied anyones idea c.q. everyone copied everyone else's idea).

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut