Some examples of abilities from games:

  • In Dota 2, the hero Queen of Pain has a ability/skill called Scream of Pain. It is essentially a kind of "magical" scream that damages nearby enemies.
  • In the Warcraft universe the so called "night elves" have an ability called shadowmeld that makes them invisible, leaving only the shadows.

Are abilities like these protected by copyright? Also, there are any court cases regarding this?

1 Answer 1


Your example powers are tropes and their basis in public domain

The Queen of Pain's scream is modeled after the Banshee, which had a scream that would kill... and there are LOTS of variants of Banshee. In fact, "Our Banshees Are Louder" is a trope.

Hiding in a shadow or walking through it is for example a typical feature of Ninja stories since the Edo Period, and a common Trope as "Shadow walker". That makes those two powers older than

You can not have a copyright on concepts, facts, or ideas.

Facts are not copyrightable, which was decided LONG ago over Feist v Rural. Neither can you copyright concepts or ideas. You won't get a claim on the concept of a damaging scream or turning into shadow. See also Copyright.gov (emphasis mine):

How do I protect my idea?

Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.

  • 1
    Good catch with the Banshee comparison.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 15, 2022 at 20:29
  • @ohwilleke You also can't copyright a fact of nature, for example, Dave Matthews has this ability. Sep 16, 2022 at 3:45

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