Say there is a card game, and it has cards that arc out, and has certain types of memberships with certain features such as premium members being allowed to chat, or use private game rooms etc. If I, from scratch created a card game (for example, Hearts) that had similar arced cards, and had similar basic and premium memberships, but used all my own, graphics, sound, and theme, would this constitute as copyright infringement? Where is the line drawn for this sort of thing?


  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the number of Magic The Gathering clones floating around the interwebs, I highly doubt you'll run into lgeal issues by just copying a mechanic or membership system. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 1:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Is this illegal?" is a question only lawyers and judges can answer safely. Plus there's like a dozen questions about the generalities on the site already. \$\endgroup\$
    – user744
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 2:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ This related question covers the general issues Joe alluded to, for example, and there are others in the "Related" sidebar. I voted this question off-topic because it's primarily a legal issue, not a game development one (you could replace the game parts with just about anything else). \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


From what I've been reading I think that the things from the game protected by copyright are everything related to the art of the game, such as the music, graphics, the name, the text that constitutes the story within the game, etc.

There is also this approach to program code that it allows to be copyrighted as it is (ie. it protects from copying it as with copy and paste) but the way it works, whatever it does can't be copyrighted.

For protecting "ways of doing things" such as an algorithm or data formats, I believe patents can be used, but they are very different from copyright, you have to pay to maintain the patent and there are many restrictions about what you can or can't ask for patenting.

I'm not a lawyer and laws are not the same even international treaties are handled different from place to place, so if you are really concerned you should ask a lawyer. I think you won't have any problem unless you are actually copying original things which are noticeable for someone who doesn't know about game development, because afaik game mechanics can't be copyrighted.


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