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Classic Games (Games) Nintendo Open Source Games

Full Screen Mario: Making the Case For Shorter Copyrights 361

barlevg writes "A college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute spent nine months meticulously remaking Super Mario Bros. based on the latest web standards. His project is open source and the code freely available through Github. The site recently gained widespread media attention, which unfortunately brought it to the attention of Nintendo, which has requested that the site be taken down. In a column on the Washington Post website, tech blogger Timothy Lee makes the case for how this is a prime example of copyrights hindering innovation and why copyright lengths should be shortened. Among his arguments: copyrights hinder innovation by game designers seeking to build upon such games, and shortening copyright would breathe new life into games who have long since passed into obsolescence."
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Full Screen Mario: Making the Case For Shorter Copyrights

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  • Slow (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @11:03AM (#45164925) Journal

    Super Mario Brothers ran at a steady framerate on a 1.7mhz 6502. This doesn't run smoothly on my 2.6ghz Core2Duo. Is this progress?

  • by FellowConspirator ( 882908 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @11:27AM (#45165259)

    Not that I disagree with the sentiment that copyright terms are indefensibly long, but it's important to recognize that the game is not subject to copyright. The original source code is, as is the artwork from the game. The characters of Mario and Luigi, as well as the Mario Borthers name and logo are trademarked.

    The students could very well have innovated by making a rip-off game without any covered elements to it, but they wanted to make something looked exactly like the Nintendo game (trademarks and all). The thing is that in the US, trademarks are unique in that if you do not defend them, you can lose them. If Nintendo didn't react, then they could lose their trademarks. Were I Nintendo, I would approach the students about licensing the trademark (say, for $1 so long as they kept the terms of the arrangement a secret) rather than face any sort of backlash for being heavy handed - they save face and defend their trademark in a single act.

  • Re: Innovation? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AdamWill ( 604569 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @12:04PM (#45165717) Homepage

    " Yes Mario Brothers is still copyrighted, but short of emulation you simply can't actually play it anymore even if it was free. "

    roflcopters - you can buy it on every Nintendo console in existence, for a start.

    "Copyright shouldn't exist for SOFTWARE in the first place"

    Wouldn't actually matter much in this case, as the guy has not re-used Nintendo's SMB *source code*, but its 'assets' - graphics, sound, level design etc. These are copyrighted separately (and, at this point, massively more valuable to Nintendo than the original SMB source code.)

  • Re: Innovation? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @12:59PM (#45166387) Homepage

    > I never understood this line of thought that but it's just for personal use so that makes it ok.

    Then you don't understand the law either. This distinction is actually part of the law. It's not just something made up by pirates to justify themselves.

    This distinction may have been diluted by corporate corruption of the law, but it's not merely an invention of pirates.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"