1st Saikyo - League - Go Seigen vs Fujisawa Hosai / Discussion

As far as I know, the copyright position on this game analysis was never resolved.


PurpleHaze: Games are historical events, therefore game records are public domain. This has been litigated to death: Robert James Fischer vs everbody in the 60's, Evgeny Sveshnikov and FIDE vs everybody late 90's.

  • Winter, Edward (1987), Copyright. New in Chess. 7:80-82. The history of challenges to the public domain status of chess scores.
  • Evans, Larry (1997), Evans on Chess, Chess Life, V52 N8, July 1997, p.24. Discusses the public domain status of chess scores in the U.S.
  • Haeck, J.F. and G.A.I. Schuijt (1994). De schaker een maker?, Informatierecht/AMI. 18:43-50. A legal analysis concluding that chess scores, per se, are not copyrightable under Dutch law.
  • Unzicker, Wolfgang and Ernst Bedau (1994). DSB-Gutachten zur Frage: Gibt es ein Urheberrecht an Schachpartien? A legal analysis concluding that chess scores, per se, are not copyrightable under German law.

It does not matter whether the game took place in public or in private, if the players were playing to win it is an historical event.

Ideas can not be copyrighted.[1] Copyright covers only "literary and artistic works". See article 2 of the [ext] Berne Convention

Translation are copyrighted (article 8). However, there are none on these pages, I read no Chinese and this book contains nothing else.

Maps, paintings, phographs, and sketches are covered (article 2). None such are reproduced here.

Use of quotations are allowed for education or critical evaluation as long as the author is credited (article 10). If that does not describe Sensei's Library then why are we here?

That's pretty helpful. On a separate issue: I think 1st Saikyo - League - Go Seigen vs Fujisawa Hosai etc. is not a good naming scheme for these pages. Unless we plan to have only the one game. Maybe PlayerWhiteName-PlayerBlackName-YYYY-MM-DD, or something like that would be better.

Charles I'd like to point out, firstly, that these pages are reproducing not just a game record, but variation diagrams from a book. Secondly, it is certainly an open question to what extent chess practice is acceptable, or accepted in the go world.

PurpleHaze: I'd like to point out that these pages are not reproducing variation diagrams from a book. Some of the variation diagrams bear some similarity to diagrams that occur in the book. At least half are entirely my creation, based on notes in the text. Some are a sequence of two or three diagrams inspired by a single diagram with additions from the text, some are single diagram composed from multiple diagrams.

Not a question of chess practice, one of law. Just happens that chess players have litigated it repeatedly to give us a body of precedent.

Bob McGuigan: I think most of the discussion of copyright issues and game records on r.g.g. tended toward the conclusion that the sequence of moves in the actual game is not subject to copyright but analysis is. However, in monkey wrench mode, a "record" is some kind of written document and was produced by someone so wouldn't whoever first recorded the game have copyright?

Charles Yes, that's a reasonable argument; the copyright would be (understood as) assigned from the official recorder to the sponsor, in the typical Japanese situation. A player who wrote down the game afterwards (as pros do) from memory, as a personal record, would be assumed to have copyright in that. Whether or not this stands up legally, I think the traditional understanding of the position stems from this sort of reasoning. In particular, there is no presumption that game records are ever published (as in chess there tends to be).

PurpleHaze: This is exactly the chess situation. The sponsors "claim" ownership of the game records (in chess both players are required to record the game). In fact the conditions of contest almost always insert a clause to the effect that "the game records are the property of the sponsor". When such organizations have attempted to claim copyright they have failed.

In chess there is certainly no presumption that game records are published, I doubt that the percentages of records published is substantialy different than go.

Cheyenne "IANAL" -- I believe from what I have been reading about copyright (I was looking into some issues for my wife and knitting patterns). You cannot copyright facts. What you can copyright is how the facts themselves are presented. For example, one cannot copyright a receipe, which is a list of ingredients and the process for combining them. What you can copyright however is how you present that list, the "story" on how your great grandmother handed down the receipe, etc. The straight game record itself is a fact. Any commentary added to the game record, any analysis, variations, etc. could be copyrighted however. How the game record is presented in a tangable form could be copyrighted (i.e. the presentation itself is copyrightable)

Here is the [ext] FAQ from the copyright office

Bill: My impression, from various discussions on rec.games.go, is that Japanese law extends copyright to go and shogi game records. I do not think that that binds us, however.

Diagrams in commentary raise an interesting question. They are plainly expressions of ideas. OTOH, there seems to be only one way (or an equivalent, such as listing coordinates) to express those ideas. So are they copyrightable or not? A musical score seems like a good analogy.

Harpreet: If copyright extends to the game record itself then how do gobase and GoGOD exist? Are we really supposed to believe that they get copyright clearance for every game in there? It doesn't suffice if they're copying from secondary sources that do not hold the copyright, that would still be infringement. It makes sense for the commentary to have copyright protection since that is someone's work much like a research manuscript. But I doubt the game record itself has any real protection. I doubt it thoroughly if we're not talking about Japan. It seems to me that if people are posting someone's commentary on a game in large parts that is not likely to defensible from a complaint of copyright infringement. I doubt that SL has to worry about just game records until gobase is shut down.

Charles That's much too legalistic a way to look at it. Since there is essentially no money in go in the West, there is not going to be any litigation anyway. The Japanese attitude simply doesn't start from matters being settled in law courts. This may be hard to understand - doesn't mean there is nothing to understand here. In this particular case, we know exactly where the variation diagrams are copied from, I believe.

ilanpi There is a clear case in which analysis is priviledged information. In particular, after an adjourned move, if one side of the analysis team finds a subtle trap, and if one of these members of this teams reveals this to the opponent, then this would seem to be a breach of ethics. This seems to indicate that one has to decide whether analysis retains a special status if the person doing the analysis reveals it publicly. I argue that it cannot be copyrighted for the following reason: If it were protected, then it would follow that you could be sued if you played someone's analysis in an actual game. I don't think anyone would support that, therefore it cannot be given special status if made public.

Cheyenne: One cannot copyright an idea. Say that you discovered a brand new way of killing a corner. You've searched through all of the possible game records, analysis, etc. and have not found a single instance of that play. You could not copyright that move. What you can do is do a write up of the move, how you discovered it, how you researched it, etc. and copyright that. But there is no copyright protection to the idea. Someone else can take the idea and do a write up of their own analysis of the move and copyright their write up. But the idea or process itself cannot be copyrighted.

Charles Well now, that's what patent law can protect: processes. But - it ought to be possible to have a discussion of the copyright status of a single contribution here, without opening the whole intellectual property can of worms.

Harpreet: And I think you're right that posting someone's commentary is pretty dubious. My point was also much smaller, just a different name for the page.

Stefan: From SL Copyright: If you have reason to believe that the original author(s) would object to quotations of their work being published on SL, then do not publish it until they have given permission. If permission is not given, or if you do not try to obtain this permission, do not publish the material on SL. Apart from the arguments and discussion on this page, which have appeared here before, can the original author who took the variations from a copyrighted work please confirm that these conditions are complied with? This is a very complicated field - despite being careful I have erred, corrected mistakes and apologized in the past, so I know what I'm talking about - but SL has a policy of staying on the safe side as outlined on that page and in my opinion it's a good idea to continue to stick to it.

Calvin: I think there's a better way to post professional games on SL than copying variations and/or commentary from an existing book: namely, to have the deshis comment on them for the benefit of amateur players. This avoids most legal issues and adds unique value. I suggest SL should remove all the variations and other copyrightable content from Go Seigen's games and just post the games themselves, a few moves at a time, with space for Q&A from SL users. I'd love to see the differences between the way, say, a 5k sees these games vs. the way a 5d sees them. Just let us poor sots ask dumb questions inline with the game record and strong players can answer them. If you don't mind my dirtying these pages this way, I'd be happy to start. More precisely, I think these games should be treated like the others in the Commented Professional Games page of SL, and perhaps moved there.


Bill: What ideas?

1st Saikyo - League - Go Seigen vs Fujisawa Hosai / Discussion last edited by Phelan on January 26, 2009 - 07:42
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