Norman, OK asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Oklahoma

Q: I have a question regarding copyright/patents and infringement on copyright/patents itself as well, regarding an iOS app

If there is an old dice game that I can find no record of on the internet or anywhere else then where I have heard of it from in person, is it copyright to turn it into an application for devices for everyone to play? I cannot find an original creator or owner of the game and everyone I’ve ever showed the game to has a blast playing it. I wanted to turn it into an app for all to enjoy but I also don’t want to be in trouble down the line for taking a design from someone else. I planned on reimagining the game to the modern rule and changing rules and parts of the game itself to become a new game itself but still based on the original version. Is this copyright infringement or even something that I would be able to copyright myself later down the line if I finish my product? Thank you for any assistance or insight you can provide.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: Under U.S. copyright law, game mechanics and rules are generally not copyrightable; however, the specific expression of those rules (such as in a rulebook) or any associated artwork may be. If you substantially reimagine the game, including its rules and appearance, your version could be considered a new work eligible for its own copyright protection. That said, tread carefully, as if there's an existing but undiscovered copyright on the original game, your work could be considered a derivative and potentially infringing.

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