Are structures built in Minecraft copyrightable?

Specifically, can you use copyright law to prevent others from distributing world files containing only original structures you built (and not anything naturally generated)?

This, to me, seems to be an original, concrete work of authorship, and so should be copyrightable. However, I can't find any credible statements about this specifically regarding Minecraft maps.

Hopefully the answer would be consistent internationally, but I am particularly interested in the US.


All artistic and literary work has copyright at the moment of creation

This includes things “built” in Minecraft. However, under the terms of the Minecraft licence you give a wide ranging copyright licence to Mojang:

If you make any content available on or through our Game, you agree to give us permission to use, copy, modify, adapt, distribute, and publicly display that content. This permission is irrevocable, and you also agree to let us permit other people to use, copy, modify, adapt, distribute, and publicly display your content. You are not giving up your ownership rights in your content, you are just giving us and other users permission to use it.

  • Could it, conceivably, be in the TOS that copyrights belong to the game company (and actually be enforceable)? There's usually the bit where your character and what have you belong to the company, you're just renting access to it or something like that, which protects the companies from theft of property claims when people get banned, or the servers stop running, etc. – zibadawa timmy Jul 11 '20 at 22:11
  • 1
    @zibadawatimmy In most jursidictions actual transfer of copyright requires a separate formality; you can't just lose your copyright to a click-through license. Thats why these TOS generally phrase it in terms of granting an unlimited license to the game company or whoever. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_transfer_agreement – Paul Johnson Jul 12 '20 at 16:57

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