by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 10th 2009 7:02am
Stephen S. Power alerts us to an ongoing debate in the chess world over the question of whether or not you can copyright a chess move. Specifically, the current debate arises from a demand by the Bulgarian Chess Federation that certain websites stop "live broadcasting" a chess match, saying that it violates copyright law. I'm certainly not familiar enough with Bulgarian copyright law to know if it actually could be interpreted in such a ridiculous manner, but in the US, at least, lawsuits have clearly stated that reporting on the facts and data from a sporting event is perfectly legal under copyright law. Most of the article focuses on the philosophical questions concerning whether or not a chess move can be "owned," but it's hard to think about the issue in any terms and come up with a good explanation for how such a move could be covered by copyright law. If you take that to the extreme, it would mean that you simply couldn't play chess. Whoever played the first few games would "own" most of the opening moves and everyone else would be out of luck. I imagine that the copyright supporters might insist that this would only force other players to use new moves, thereby increasing their creative output. Yes... I'm being sarcastic here, but it does highlight just how silly it is to even think about the idea of copyrighting chess moves, or even a collection of chess moves in terms of "broadcasting" a match.
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