Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Copyright and role-playing games

Jerry Stratton, February 3, 2007

Just a quick heads-up that I’ve written an article about copyright and table-top games, and the uses for an open content license in role-playing games, on the Biblyon Broadsheet.

Table-top games don’t have the pressing need for an open source license that computer code does. It is interesting that computer code even can even be copyrighted--it is nothing more than a list of steps for computers to follow. But given that computer code can be copyrighted, the method we use to copyright it in the United States completely subverts the purpose of copyright. There is no “progress of science and useful arts” if the copyrighted code is not made public. The entire point of copyright is that it is a trade: a monopoly on the work for a limited time, in exchange for making the work public.

With table-top games, such as pen & paper role-playing games, there is less of a need for open content licenses because, first, the game must be made public in order for people to play it, and, second, game rules can’t be copyrighted anyway. So why do we need open source games? That’s what I try to answer in the series.

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