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Legal questions about Games



Hi list, 
  I responded to a request to fedora-extras-list back in April for
adding several games with interest in working on some of the ones the
original poster suggested and one of my own personal favorites (more on
my progress with those later*).  The conversation ended up going the
legal route and Greg DeKoenigsberg posted the following questions, and
the thread died off (as did my mail reader, sorry for not replying!
Plus, it's two months later).  I didn't want to let it totally fall off
the radar though, and I saw others who were interested in maintaining
other games in Extras, so here goes:


> So let me have something better defined to take to legal.

> It seems to me that we've got three different categories:

> 1. Straight rip-offs of copyrighted games that we know are being defended.  
> Tetris falls into this category.  The answer is clearly no.

Think that pretty much settles that one.

> 2. Straight rip-offs of copyrighted games for which no known policy by 
> the copyright holder is clear.  If someone comes up with "PyStratego" 
> using the PyGames libs, is it acceptable or not?  My guess is "probably 
> no."

> 3. Games that mimic other licensed games, but use different names.  Lots 
> of precedent here for safety.  We shipped freeciv in RHL forever; 
> similarly, Reversi is a well-known workaround for the copyright of 
> Othello.  My guess is that we've got more room here.

It seems from this that the problem with #2 and #3 is based solely on the name.  This is
definitely a concern, but the problem in question was not in just the name of the package;
it was similar but I think you'd have a reasonably tough time proving it was confusingly so 
(Crack-Attack! vs. Tetris Attack).  The problem in question is game literature (ie, docs,
game official website) mention the trademarked "Tetris" in comparing the game to "Tetris Attack."

The question came as to what was allowable and what was not, and where.  Can we say "Tetris" in a
description in a specfile comparing the package to the trademarked game?  Is it acceptable if the
upstream game materials mention trademarked names? Is the game a lost cause if the official site 
says "Tetris" on it?

> If I ask counsel about these three game categories, will that likely be 
> sufficient?

It'd definitely be a good start, but keeping the above in mind as packages have more 
associated with them than just the contents of a srpm.

> And I'd much rather not shunt these games out to Livna unless *absolutely*
> necessary.  I think that being able to install cool games for Fedora
> straight out of box is a big win for us.

Definitely agree on this point.

* - for anyone interested I have posted a SPEC and SRPM, they are:
http://users.adelphia.net/~jplafleur/fedora-extras/crack-attack/crack-attack.spec
and
http://users.adelphia.net/~jplafleur/fedora-extras/crack-attack/crack-attack-1.1.14-1.src.rpm


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