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Me and a friend got hooked on a board game and soon realized that we didn't need the board game to play, instead we could play it with pen and paper with extreme ease and satisfaction. The next step was to develop a simple android app to play it. We have been using this to play and it's fun, and we are interested in publishing it, but we are worried eventual copyright issues. The concept of the game - itself very simple, merely a type of trivia game, where each round has different rules - is the same, the name is different as is all the art. Does anybody know if we infringe copyrights if we were to publish it?


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most likely: yes. the only option left it's hoping that the board game it's not patented because you can break the copyright when you break an intellectual property or a royalty system. – user827992 Aug 26 '12 at 15:21
relevant to bring up: Scrabble vs. Words with Friends – jhocking Aug 29 '12 at 15:49

There are other intellectual property rights that may protect parts of such a game. Patents and trademark, for example. Concepts or mechanics are not subject to copyright in any jurisdiction I am familiar with and no international treaties governing copyright extend the protection to game mechanics. As far as copyright is concerned, you can mimic those freely and it's done en masse.

Make sure the game is not patented and stay clear of its name and art. This will leave the creators of the original board game with very little ammunition. Of course, the usual side note applies; you don't have to do something wrong or illegal to get into legal trouble. That aside, the answer is no. You're not infringing copyrights by publishing such a game and you are as safe as you can reasonably expect to be.

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As always, I am not a lawyer. If you want sound legal advice, get a lawyer.

With that said, everyone else has hit it spot on. There are things like art, titles, mechanics, words and the like you would not be able to use. In other words, loose adaptations of a game that are independent are usually okay.

*Examples of content to stay away from: *

  • Monopoly Man Mascot
  • Titles such as "The Game of Life", "Boggle", and "Word Boggle"
  • Art, such as token pieces of the game board layout
  • Sound and other multimedia the game may use
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It probably is. What I recommend is that you contact the creator of the board game and ask them if you can publish it. If you're lucky they'll pay you to publish it, if you're not so lucky they won't even let you publish it.

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