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Copyright for Code Writers and Game Developers
With Douglas Robbins, Esq.
The recent decision involving Sony's God of War videogame franchise (Bissoon–Dath v. Sony Computer Entm't Am., Inc., 694 F. Supp. 2d 1071 (N.D. Cal. 2010), aff'd, Dath v. Sony Computer Entm't Am., Inc., 653 F.3d 898 (9th Cir. 2011)) highlights key aspects of copyright law relevant to the creation and publication of narrative based videogames. This decision and the related decision of Oracle America Inc. v. Google, Inc., and Tetris Holding v. Xio Interactive, helps game makers and code writers to understand what sort of material is protected by copyright but crucially, also what sort of material--images, ideas, stories, designsundefinedare not protected by copyright.
Using these case studies we will discuss the five top ways that code writers and game makers can take, borrow, and steal from previously available materials without fear of violating copyright. Specifically we will discuss the uncopyrightable nature of ideas, facts, structures, and frameworks, the related "merger" doctrine, scenes a faire, the law related to game mechanics, and the public domain.
DOUGLAS ROBBINS is the Chair of the Wood Robbins LLP Media Law Group, serving clients involved in producing, acquiring, licensing, and managing audio-visual media. Mr. Robbins is the vice-chair of the San Mateo County Bar Association's Intellectual Property Section, and has been named to the list of Super Lawyers Magazine's 2011 and 2012 Rising Stars..