I'm willing to remake an old video game, first as a hobby project, but in the future I'd like to publish it online, for free or as a commercial project.

I've been reading for a while about copyright infringement, and despite not copying any artistic assets, lore, names, or things like that, I'm afraid I could run into copyright infringement.

The reason why I think so, is because I would be using some very specific mechanics that are key to the gameplay, and I suspect those mechanics can be subject of copyright.

Without entering into much detail, are there any kind of rules that apply to gameplay or game mechanics regarding copyright?

  • 1
    Video game or some other type? Interesting article on video game clones. May be relevant to you. gamasutra.com/view/feature/187385/clone_wars_the_five_most_.php
    – BowlOfRed
    Oct 22 '15 at 0:30
  • Video game, edited for clarification. I've been reading several articles about copyright, but in the end I guess I will have no other choice but to consult with a lawyer specialized in the matter.
    – Artemix
    Oct 22 '15 at 3:18

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.


  • It is very vague. What defines exactly an "expression"?. Let take as example a game that has a very particular mechanic, the Fruit Ninja, and I want to make a copy of it, but instead of fruits I would be using potatoes, am I violating the copyright?.
    – Artemix
    Oct 22 '15 at 3:21
  • Yes, it is very vague. The only way to be sure is publish, see if they sue and see if they are successful.
    – Dale M
    Oct 22 '15 at 3:24
  • Going just to accept the answer since I doubt I will be getting anything different without discussing my particular case. Btw, do you know of any lawyer that specializes in this matter?.
    – Artemix
    Oct 22 '15 at 3:27
  • Yes, I know several in Sydney, Australia - does that help you?
    – Dale M
    Oct 22 '15 at 3:31
  • 1
    @Artemix - This area of practice is known as "intellectual property."
    – feetwet
    Oct 22 '15 at 14:19

For anyone else reading this: - do NOT copy the code. Even though copyright is for art, literary, etc., code, which to me is more functional than art, is also copyrighted! Start from scratch. Note: i'm not talking about game genie codes. If they still exist, lol

  • making a clone isn't recommended.
  • getting sued (ie going to court) is a bad idea, even if you win in court. Costs money, time, energy, reputation, etc. P.S. getting sued doesn't mean losing in court (which I first thought). It simply means going to court.

  • scenes a faire means stuff that are necessary to create a work in a certain genre. e.g. any and all fighting games will and must have punching, kicking, blocking, jumping, dodging, and probably also combos. Thus, these things are NOT copyrightable. But certain things must be able to fall outside of scenes a faire. Look it up on Wikipedia for more.

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