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Profiting off Copyrighted Board Game Copyright

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by Tyler Waaler, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. Tyler Waaler

    Tyler Waaler Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Not a lawyer here, so I'll express my question in the most general terms possible. Forgive me if my language is unclear and let me know if you have followup questions:

    I currently am the administrator of a 500 person online community centered around a board game (Diplomacy - owned by Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro). As I'm looking to expand the community, a couple developers and I are investigating the prospect of creating an app on which to play Diplomacy online, and have a number of ideas which would make this app profitable. However, as we do not own the right to Diplomacy, I'm under the impression that we cannot profit off their game. I have contacted Hasbro and received a generic reply. Should I consult a copyright attorney (know that the community has very little money with which to pay for one), or is there an alternate way forward?
  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Whether or not you profit from the venture isn't the primary issue. Any app based on an existing game that is subject to copyright cannot lawfully be created or distributed without the permission of the copyright owner. Whether you pay an attorney to try and pursue this with the copyright owner is entirely up to you.
    hrforme likes this.
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Consulting an intellectual property lawyer would probably be wise. You actually have two problems with this proposal. Potential copyright infringement for copying the design elements of the game and potential trademark violations for the use of trademarks that are associated with the game.

    Bear the following in mind, too. First, if you are sued for copyright infringement and/or trademark infringement and lose, that judgment could cost your group a lot more than what consulting a lawyer now would cost you. That's true even though your group doesn't make a profit off of it. Second, even if you win the lawsuit, the legal fees you incur fighting a large corporation in a trademark/copyright infringement action could itself run into tens of thousands of dollars, and those are fees you don't recover from the corporation if you win. Win or lose, you end up paying the legal fees.

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