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We have precedent that game mechanics can't be copyrighted -- they get classified as "inventions" and have to be patented instead.

Obviously IANAL, but to me as a game designer, mechanics aren't any less creative work than narrative. In fact, I'm spending more of my creative energy on mechanics than I am on story. So the lines to me just seem incredibly arbitrary, or at least I don't understand the legal differences well enough to figure out intuitively where they lie. I am incredibly grateful that game mechanics can't be copyrighted, but game mechanics don't feel like inventions to me. A game mechanic is how I express an idea.

I tried to make a prediction about which way this would go, and I genuinely don't know -- not even that my prediction is uncertain, I don't feel like I know enough to even make a prediction at all.

It does make me nervous. I think it's important that the Supreme Court hear it, and I'm glad they agreed to, but it would be utterly disastrous if this got decided in Oracle's favor. My (perhaps incorrect) impression is that the Supreme Court is not particularly fond of the 9th, and have something of a history of slapping down attempts at copyright expansion. A ruling against Oracle would be fantastic, and would maybe even open the door for talking about blocking copyright on grounds of compatibility.

I guess I'm just nervous because it feels like the stakes are really high.

At this point, there's nothing really that people like me can do, right? It's just up to Oracle and Google's lawyers?




>the Supreme Court is not particularly fond of the 9th

Sorry but this is FUD you see going around. The most overturned court circuits are as follow.

6th Circuit - 87 percent; 11th Circuit - 85 percent; 9th Circuit - 79 percent; 3rd Circuit - 78 percent;

Furthermore the 9th Circuit does the most basis and almost all of their court cases are not taken up by the Supreme Court, that means less than 1% of Court Cases are overturned.

Source for numbers but other places have written about this.

https://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2017/feb/10...


I'm thinking specifically about copyright, not the 9th circuit's rulings overall. I don't know if that would make a difference from the overall stats you link to.

Although having just said that, the Blurred Lines, "these songs sound similar so that's good enough to say they're infringing" case didn't get overturned, and I think that's almost as dangerous a precedent as this. And a few other commenters are saying that it's actually more just patent-law expansion that the Supreme Court has been wary of.

So maybe it's entirely wishful thinking on my part.

I dunno. I just want someone to tell me it's all going to turn out OK :)


That blurred lines case has had big impacts on copyright in music, sadly. There’s more cases in the works right now based on it :(


I would definitely characterize more than 3/4 of appealed cases being overturned and within 10% of the most overturned court as "not particularly fond"!


You can't seriously say "more than 3/4 of appealed cases being overturned" and "within 10% of the most overturned court" as if they are both significant in the same sentence.

The supreme court (according to the same article) overturns 70% of all cases it takes. The 9th circuit (and 3/4) is within 10% of the average.


> At this point, there's nothing really that people like me can do, right? It's just up to Oracle and Google's lawyers?

Yes, with regard to this case, there’s nothing we can do at this point.

In the longer term, it’s up to law makers on the state and federal level to address shortcomings and expansions of copyright law. So vote! (Or, I guess if you are particularly wealthy, lobby!)


You, or an industry group you are part of, could file an amicus brief, but, yeah, there's not a lot.


You could also try to get your company to file an amicus brief as well.


> Obviously IANAL, but to me as a game designer, mechanics aren't any less creative work than narrative.

I agree, to me it is a bit annoying seeing asset flips like Wargroove being hailed as new innovative games. They took the units from Advance wars straight offs. AA gun -> Wizard (fast good against infantry and air but weak against armor), Light-Tank -> Knight (fast, good against most targets and armored), Medium Tank -> Giant (slow heavy unit), Recon -> Dogs (very good against infantry, see invisible units), AA missile launcher -> Ballista (ranged unit that only attacks air), Bomber -> Dragon (strong flyer that only attacks ground) etc.

I don't think that anyone making an original game would have made those choices, like why can dragons only attack ground targets? Makes sense for bombers, not for dragons. Why are wizards so fast and weak against armored targets? Usually it is the other way around. Why can ballista only attack air? Historically they were used against ground targets, etc etc. The only original unit in wargroove not straight up taken from Advance wars is the Amphibian.

I wonder how much faster they got their game made thanks to just stealing the entire combat system from Advance wars...


> the Supreme Court is not particularly fond of the 9th

I thought the 9th wasn't involved here, and that the appellate ruling originated from the federal circuit?


You're right, this is CAFC, where all patent matters end up (the case originally involved a patent dispute, but that was dropped very early).

SCOTUS has not looked kindly on CAFC when it comes to patents, almost always overturning CAFC's decisions as being utter lunacy. I hope that same skepticism will transfer to copyright.


The 9th is involved in spirit because the Federal Circuit was in principle bound to apply 9th Circuit law on the copyright claims (which, arguably, they did not do.)

But that's mostly immaterial at the Supreme Court, as the Supreme Court isn't deciding based on whether the CAFC correctly applied 9th Circuit precedent.


The appellate ruling originated from the Federal Circuit, but only because Oracle's suit included a patent claim that didn't last long—the Federal Circuit is the appellate court for all patent-related stuff. For the non-patent stuff (ie. the copyright stuff), the Federal Circuit was supposed to follow precedent from the local circuit: the 9th. They didn't.




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