Who has the rights to the party game Mafia / Werewolf?

Or is it public domain, meaning anyone can do an implementation of the game and release it as a commercial product?

Update 1: According to this question: Making a mobile app from a board game. Copyright infringement?

You can't copyright concepts or mechanics. This basically means this should be public domain, right?

  • \$\begingroup\$ The first link in Notes section of the wiki page for it is a link to the rules that appears to have been written by the inventor of the game. Under the first paragraph are some copyright dates which start in the year he created it, but it doesn't specify it's for the game. However, since the first is 1987 I don't think it applies to the website. The site is web.archive.org/web/19990302082118/http://members.theglobe.com/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ After your update: Wizards of the Coast has copyrights on a bunch of mechanics for card games (although it may be in name only). For example, no other card game can call it "tapping" for mana, but you can have a mechanic to turn a card to show it has been used/is unusable. However, looking at Words With Friends vs Scrabble (example in the GDSE link you gave) I'd say you're safe. I am not a lawyer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 13:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think questions about who owns the rights to a particular game are too localized. This is simply a research task that should be performed by the interested party. \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Byte56. Also, for clarification, the public domain is where intellectual property works go when their relevant protections have lapsed or been relinquished. Copyright is just one form of intellectual property protection, so just because something is not under copyright or not copyrightable at all does not mean that it is consequently public domain (it may still be a trademark or covered by patent protection, for example). \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Orin I believe Wizards has patents on mechanics and trademarks on terms like "tapping." Copyright is really only for published creative works (they've got copyright on the card designs, art, and text). I am also not a lawyer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 21:51

2 Answers 2


I am not a lawyer, but here are my findings.

The game's wiki page here leaves me to believe that a number of companies have marketed their own versions of the game successfully.

"Looney Labs successfully marketed a commercial version of the game as Are You a Werewolf?, which was later followed by Asmodee Editions under the title Werewolves of Millers Hollow, Mayfair Games as Lupus in Tabula and Bezier Games as Ted Alspach's Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition. A Cthulhu Mythos variant (Do You Worship Cthulhu) was published in 2006."

As long as you stay away from all art and certain terms used in these games you should be fine. As mentioned in the GDSE link in your update, Words With Friends exists without any problems from Scrabble.


Werewolf is owned by bezeer games and it is copyrighted. This i think mean you have to ask them first!!

Werewolf isn't what i call a party game imo btw.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Is this the game you're thinking of? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(party_game) Seems like a party game to me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is correct, it is this game I am talking about in the OP. \$\endgroup\$
    – corgrath
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 13:23

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