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RISK on Google Maps Shut Down 312

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the making-my-stronghold-in-africa dept.
mrokkam writes "Hasbro owns the copyrights for the game of Risk, as the guy who wrote the google maps based Risk found out. This was featured on slashdot earlier. However, he does not seem too discouraged and asks people to submit ideas for other games using google maps that will not have such legal wrangles." One thing this reminded me of is how cool Risk is. My office is now in its 3rd round... Africa will be mine!
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RISK on Google Maps Shut Down

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  • Copyrights (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qbwiz (87077) * <john@@@baumanfamily...com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @10:39AM (#14178346) Homepage
    I'm curious what Hasbro actually owns the copyrights on. They own the trademark on the name of the game, as the article says, and they own the copyright on the original game's rules, but do they own a copyright on any rephrasings of those rules?

    If the game looks similar and plays the same, but does not have its rules phrased the same as the original game, is this a violation of copyright? I'm genuinely curious.
  • Litigious bastards (Score:4, Interesting)

    by plams (744927) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @10:48AM (#14178362) Homepage
    Hasbro has a long history of suing amateurs who make games based on their games. I think they own a lot of classic arcade games too (e.g. from acquiring atari), so when someone makes, say, a Missile Command clone they also issue legal threats. Makes my inner baby cry.
  • by yeremein (678037) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:01AM (#14178405)
    The Hasbro bark letter [ashotoforangejuice.com] seems to complain that "unauthorized use of [elements of R*SK] is likely to dilute the distinctive quality of the R*SK game" (can't be too careful here). It seems to me that Hasbro would like to imply that they own the m*n*p*ly (is that a Hasbro trademark too?) on all R*SK-like games, but all that's legally enforceable is the R*SK name and actual written rules. I agree that a R*SK-like strategy game that didn't actually use the name "R*SK" or copy its rule book verbatim (and I don't know whether the offending game did that) should be legally okay. After all, there haven't been any lawsuits in the video game industry, where every single FPS that ever existed is exactly the same as every other one other than the name...
  • Couldn't there be a way to make a FreeRisk.org in the same way there is a FreeCiv.org [freeciv.org]? And thus, bypass legal limitations?

    Civ IV can even use NASA Blue Marble tiles [slashgisrs.org], I don't see why a FreeRisk or not-so-free Risk couldn't make use of NASA's Blue Marble data. It would be more beautiful than a Google Map basemap. Am I wrong?

    Clearly, this is another example where IP impeds innovation...
  • by DrunkenTerror (561616) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:05AM (#14178419) Homepage Journal
    Global War, a BBS door game.

    It's still around. You can download it here [johndaileysoftware.com]. You'll need a BBS to run it any way other than hotseat multiplayer. Or you could log onto any one of hundreds of BBSs [synchro.net] that could be running it.
  • by squoozer (730327) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:19AM (#14178483)

    ... for why copyright terms should be dramatically cut. Far from increasing the productivity of gifted artists the current copyright laws seem to cause them to give up work after they have had one success. I'm not saying that artists shouldn't be compensated but 20 years, to me, feels like about the right amount of time to protect the work. It's long enough that no business will just wait 20 years for the copyright on a work to expire before publishing and it's not so short that the artists would struggle to reap their just rewards.

    I remember playing Risk as a kid and it wasn't a new game then (my parents bought the set). How can it be right that it is still protected by copyright?. If copyrights were shorter Hasbro would no doubt have pumped money into developing new more exciting games.

    Having said that I suppose there is no problem with producing a very similar game with a different name to get around the copyright problem. I suppose we should be thankful they didn't patent it :o). The parting thought is this though - there is a reason they call them board games and it's not because they are played on a board.

  • Re:Trademark (Score:5, Interesting)

    by networkBoy (774728) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:21AM (#14178492) Homepage Journal
    It is unnerving when you get one of those letters.
    here's mine:
    http://farmersreallysucks.com/cgi-bin/QAD_CMS.pl?p age=E1_First_Takedown.html [farmersreallysucks.com]
    Anyway, my first reaction was "Oh Shit, Oh Shit, Oh Shit" then I took some time and realised that they were using baseless assertions, thus I got a little pissed. Finally I spent the next week looking up laws in US Title 15 and writing my rebuttal (the red text).
    -nB
  • by KonoWatakushi (910213) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:06PM (#14178719)
    Is it the lawyers that companies keep on staff, actively trying to make themselves seem "useful," or is there really some bonehead at the company in a position of power who really believes that this is in Hasbro's best interests?

    The settings for board games and online games are typically completely different, with very little overlap. You don't (typically) sit around at home and play a board game by yourself. Likewise, Hasbro doesn't even have a net capable product to offer. At worst, this would have generated more interest, and hence more sales of the game. Instead, they choose to pursue legal actions which will only anger people, and ensure that they will actively search for alternatives to their products.

    While technically this wasn't an online multi-player game, such a version was rumored to be in development. I can't see that enough people would choose to huddle around a computer in this way to be any threat to their business. Certainly, if one likes to play chess, and has people available to play with, 99.9% of them would choose to buy a chess set.
  • Diplomacy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sysrpl (740738) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:16PM (#14178776)
    Ever heard of the game Diplomacy [wikipedia.org]?
  • Re:Copyrights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@b ... h u d s o n .com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:42PM (#14180234) Journal

    You CANNOT trademark a generic english word.

    You might succeed in getting the paperwork passed, but it won't pass muster in court.

    http://www.gcglaw.com/resources/tech/windows.html [gcglaw.com]

    The litigation over the Windows trademark highlights a distinction between valid trademarks that become generic over time -- "escalator" for moving stairs is a frequently-cited example -- and words or phrases that were generic from the moment of their adoption by the purported trademark owner -- for example, "raisin bran" for breakfast cereal made from raisins and bran.
    The word "escalator" was a made-up word that lost its protection through the general public using it for all sorts of "moving stairs", but it was initally a valid trademark. Windows never was - and it cost Microsoft $20 million to make Lindows go away rather than have a judge rule against them.

    YOu can make a raisin bran cereal and call it "schon's Raisin Bran" - Kelloggs can't come after you. As long as you include YOUR name, to differentiate it from their product, you're okay. So, you can use the name Risk - its only trademarked in conjuction with Hasbro, in the sense of "Hasbro Risk", "schon's Risk" would NOT be an infringement, as Risk is NOT a "made-up" word, but a generic word from everyday english.

    Hasbro can go fuck themselves. I have 4 copies of the Risk board game, plus the computer game - but they'll never see another penny from me. This was all bullshit. I also have a lot of their other games - but no more. And they can forget about the xmas gift-giving as well.

  • by Ragesoss (906450) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @06:34PM (#14180846) Homepage
    FreeCiv.org doesn't so much bypass legal limitations... it's more like the Civilization IP owners just don't think it's worth alienating so many fans of a relatively small genre. A lot of FreeCiv (it's based on Civ 2, is it not) are still going to buy Civ 4, while older Civilization games aren't exactly bringing in the big bucks anymore.

    RISK has a somewhat broader base, and still finds its way onto toy store shelves all over. Alhough I'm not sure how the Google Maps version could hurt them (it seems like it would remind people of the joys of risk and push sales rather than compete with the board game version).

  • Re:Copyrights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teknomage1 (854522) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @09:11PM (#14181651) Homepage
    I appreciate your humorous post, but I hope people remember that most of those games ere all created before copyright existed anyway. I was teaching at a summer camp recently and the kids were amazed that copyrights on things used to expire.
  • What poor sports. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tivoKlr (659818) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @10:42PM (#14182182) Journal
    It's not like this guy was making money off of his idea. And the creativity to get this to work.

    Mostly, I was out of town all weekend and unable to try it and I really was looking forward to playing.

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