April 13, 2007 18:24

[lang_nl]Copyright op schaakpartijen?[/lang_nl][lang_en]Copyright on chess games?[/lang_en]

[lang_nl]Zo nu en dan laait de discussie weer op. Kan op schaakpartijen copyright van toepassing zijn? Zijn de zetten van een partij een specifiek eigendom van de spelers, of misschien wel van het toernooi, en kunnen zij anderen verbieden om de partijen te publiceren? De discussie is weer helemaal actueel vanwege het apparaatje van het bedrijf Monroi dat op steeds meer schaaktoernooien gebruikt wordt (zoals Gibraltar, het Amerikaans Kampioenschap en het Europees Kampioenschap dat nu gespeeld wordt). Hiermee noteren spelers hun zetten digitaal, waarmee de partij automatisch live op internet getoond wordt. Maar wat blijkt? Monroi's kleine lettertjes geven aan dat er sprake is van copyright op de partijzetten![/lang_nl][lang_en]Every now and then the discussion flares up again. Can copyright be applied to a chess game? Is the game score a specific property of the players, or perhaps of the tournament, and can they prevent others from publishing them? The discussion is topical again because of the little gadget of the company Monroi which is being used more and more at chess tournaments (like Gibraltar, the US Championship and the current European Championships). Players 'write down' their moves digitally and the games are broadcast live on the internet automatically. But what is the case? Monroi's small print says that by registering to their website, you have agreed to recognize Monroi's copyright on game scores![/lang_en]

[lang_nl]De blog van de Boylston Chess Club citeert een e-maildiscussie met onder andere een mail van USCF-bestuurskandidaat Joe Lux. Hij schrijft:

"Stephen Dann schrijft al dertig jaar een schaakrubriek voor de Worcester Telegram en de Gazette. Twee weken geleden leverde hij een stukje in met een notatie van de partij Curdo-Rizzitano. De krant weigerde de notatie af te drukken. Hij stond namelijk op de Monroi-website. Het komt erop neer dat als je je hebt registreerd op de site, je bent overeengekomen dat je Monroi's copyright op de partijzetten respecteert. Een week geleden overkwam Harold Dondis hetzelfde bij de Boston Globe, waar hij al vijftig jaar een schaakrubriek schrijft."

Moeten wij journalisten en bloggers ons zorgen gaan maken? Ik denk het niet. Het is onduidelijk in hoeverre Monroi dit beleid kan verdedigen in de rechtzaal, en als ze dit al doen dan zal de gadget door weinig toernooien gebruikt gaan worden.

Wat vinden jullie ervan? Is een partij jouw eigendom en mag je verbieden dat-ie door anderen wordt gepubliceerd?[/lang_nl][lang_en]Boylston Chess Club's blog quotes an e-mail thread which includes a post from USCF Executive Board candidate Joe Lux. He writes:

"Stephen Dann has written a chess column for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette for over 30 years. Two weeks ago, he submitted a column that included a game score: Curdo-Rizzitano. The newspaper refused to include the gamescore. It was included on the Monroi website. It seems if you register to use the site, you have agreed to recognize Monroi's copyright on game scores. A week ago, Harold Dondis had the same problem at the Boston Globe, where he has written a column for 50 years."

Are we journalists and bloggers in trouble? Don't think so. It's not sure if Monroi can defend this policy in court, and if they will, I can't imagine the gadget will be used by many tournaments.

What do you think? Is a chess game something you own, and should you be able to forbid it from being published?[/lang_en]


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Pincket's picture

Copyright on chessmoves ? Is there a copyright on E4 or D4 bu starting a chessgame?

Stewart Reuben's picture

The players' quarrel should be with themselves and the organisers. The latter want their event to be publicised as widely as possible. This means the games need to be distributed. The provenance of the games must be shown, otherwise the distributors, such as chessbase, Monroi, ICC, newspapers or magazines are letting the organizers down. The players want their games publicised so that events will continue to be organised.
If a player thinks he is not receiving adequate recompense for his work in start money, hospitality and potential prize money, then the solution is simple. Don't play.

Monroi cannot possibly be running at a profit yet. The start-up costs first have to be recovered. Some players will not even try Monroi, they are biased against the system with no evidence. A bit like telling your mummy you don't like certain food without first sampling it.
The organiser has to choose between electronic boards, Monroi and manually inputting the games. The latter are most reliable and often cheapest, but the immediacy of the game is lost. In Gibraltar all three systems were used.
Stewart Reuben

rp's picture

The post that started this thread is incorrect. MonRoi does not claim that they own any copyrights to game scores. They do have a copyright on what is transmitted and posted on their site .. just like every other web publisher.

Dennis's picture

Zoe, ChessBase doesn't charge 30 euros a year to view live games. They charge 30 euros for access to their chess server, one benefit of which is the opportunity to watch live games there. Further, the game scores they "steal" are available, for free, in their online database. What one pays for is the collection of games (with many of them annotated, in their most popular database) in a convenient bundle. If that's theft, then all chess books are thefts as well.

Zoe's picture

Chessbase charges 30 ?¢‚Äö¬¨ / year to view live games. People from Chessbase are thieves. They steal live games and then ask players to pay to view them. Chessbase steals PGNs from players and then ask them for pay for a database 130 ?¢‚Äö¬¨ + VAT. Come on- we are not blind and so stupid. Viewers do not pay to Monroi for viewing games.

This is from monroi?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s webpage. Notice: This disclaimer does not pertain to individual game copyrights, which are non-copyrighted materials. It however strictly prohibits re-broadcasting of chess matches. Using content for the purposes of selling or charging a user fee is strictly prohibited. Media, chess players, organizers and spectators are legally permitted to download a PGN file from the MonRoi World Databank of Chess for purposes of printing and reviewing the game and publishing chess articles. We kindly ask media to include www.monroi.com source.

Rob Brown's picture

'but I strongly feel Chessbase should pay the players for archiving and selling games otherwise make the database freeware.' -BHABATOSH

The Chessbase Database is freeware.

peter's picture

First of all, thanks for commenting. I guess it's clear that without agreements and/or contracts, games are not copyright protected. Moves can be described as 'facts' ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú so free information.

My fault was that I should have checked about the small print issue before writing this. As Yang (comment 11 above) said, and as can be found in the comments under the Boylston article, Monroi has stated that they're not copyrighting the game scores, only to live broadcast and store in a database. So perhaps I was too quick with this article.

But it's a fact that Monroi's Terms of Use, which I did check, has some intriguing sentences. First this one:

You may not modify, copy, distribute, transmit, display, perform, reproduce, publish, license, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any information, software, products or services obtained from MONROI.

This can certainly be interpreted as copyright on chess games. If I follow a game at the Monroi website, and want to write about it, it can be considered that I'm "reproducing information obtained from Monroi".

And at the end the TOU says:

By using this software you accept that MonRoi has full ownership of all MonRoi Professional Tournament Manager information received and transmitted by MonRoi systems and has exclusive broadcast rights of said information.

So for the moment I'll apologize to Monroi for being too quick with my conclusion, but still and update of their Terms of Use in which it's stated that game scores can be used freely, would be nice.

Btw very interesting is the question that some of you (like Yang and wp) asked: why is it that unannotated games are being sold without the players getting payed for it. Food for thought.

And @ Dan: Chessvibes has never made a secret of the fact that we're based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. But we have no relation whatsoever with DGT. (Actually I once sent them an email and never got a reply.) And there's nothing mysterious about me. And I certainly didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t 'hide the fiasco'. So please don't have opinions about people or websites before you even took the time to get to know them.

Dan's picture

Nicky (is that a Greeky name), do you know any hair growth product? I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll exchange it for Viagra. The Dresden organizer squandered money and effort by making a decision to implement DGT technology which underperformed in men?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s section, bewildering their sponsors. The men?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s tournament is run without proper infrastructure, which demonstrates that decision makers have an absence of interest in the game?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s image, and poor marketing and communication abilities. To a competent technical advisor, it takes not more than 30 minutes to understand that the MonRoi system is a golden opportunity to earn and maintain credibility in the eyes of the reputable corporate sponsors. Luckily they have handheld?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s in women?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s section. I would not pay to see chess games (prefer soccer), and no one can force me to do it- not Chessbase and not MonRoi. As long as MonRoi gives free tickets, I will watch all games at their webpage, as they offer a clearly superior screen.

wp's picture

As far as you know in 2002 GM Evgeny Sveshnikov brought an action against russian firm "InformSistemy" (the developer of Chess Assistant program) but he failed. See
http://chessassistant.ru/is-es/solving.asp (in Russian)

"Also known as one of the most outspoken and controversial Grandmasters on the circuit, Sveshnikov has in recent years been linked with player revolts over the handing in of gamescores. It is of course accepted practice that players submit copies of their gamescores to tournament organisers and these games later appear on the internet, in books, magazines and in database programs. Whilst the benefits to the development and popularisation of chess are obvious, Sveshnikov insists that it is not in the best interests of chess professionals to allow this to continue.

Most fundamentally, it is very difficult for chess players to earn a living; he speaks of many chess players in Russia and the Baltic States suffering severe depression and in some cases committing suicide ( - it is thought that Georgy Ilivitsky, Alvis Vitolins, Karen Grigorian, Lembit Oll and Alexey Vyzmanavin are prominent examples). He contends that gamescores are the labours and intellectual property of the two players concerned and therefore copyright permissions and royalty fees should apply. It is morally corrupt, he argues, that only authors, editors and owners of Chess Publishing Houses profit from the publication of gamescores. Effectively, players are even prevented from producing an exclusive book of their own best games as an investment for their retirement."

N.Lanier's picture

oops, a monroi shareholder right here fighting for his investment ... no surprises there as Chessvibes started as Doggers Schaak in DUTCH... great idea , great team, love it. ..
Well seriously, how does Monroi make money?

first by selling these little handhelds - that is obviously a terminal line, as eventually the market will be saturated, right, Dan? Organizers love it - no high DGT costs, no complications with the DGT hardware and software, no paperwork - one long jump into the digital age. Garreat...easy to sell the idea...
Next: the data centre(s) for monroi - plus the 5-star travel expenses for its reps - take aup a lot of money. If they are not writing it off on the sheets of some larger company - which, please? - then they need to make more money when the handheld sales go flat. here the database business must needs come in...
Next : what are the arrangements in Monroi contracts with organizers? None? Or do they claim rights for the games? Do organizers actually have ANY rights to the games - or just to a copy of the score? Traditionally, the handwritten game score has a double page - one for the organziers, one for the player, who can perfectly well sell it commented where and when they chose. Is that possible in a Monroi tournament? or will a player who takes down his the game per pern - be reprimanded, sued or excluded? Do You know, Dan - or couldn't You care less?

Of course, the Monroi method cd be perfected easily for tournament organization purposes - get a WLAN, some kind of transmission gadget, get a all games transmitted to the directors laptop, who transmits as PGN to the web, with a PGN applet runing online - and at the end of the tournament gives all players a page with their game.
One thing - chess has been traditionally averse to being exploited as a monopoly. Chess is a bit anarquistic, and chess players are very averse to being had or fleeced... nice to be attributed "passion" but I guess chess players have no excuse to be innocent or naive - the game teaches us to be vigilant - one little loss of attention - and there goes the game(S)! If You really are so dewy-eyed re Monroi, I'd say You still have a great margin for improving Your game....

Mort au Roi


Dan's picture

Hey Nick man

There is no any contest between DGT and Monroy. Monroi functions and DGT does not. Monroy in new, portable and wireless. And DGT board is old, wooden and malfunctioning- from the last decade. That is not a contest. DGT is obsolete.

The only company which is making money on game copyrights is Chessbase- and they should pay to the organizers and players for it.

I would not be surprised if Chessvibes is from Netherlands as DGT. Mysterious Peter from Chessvibes is misleading public to hide a fiasco at the European Championship. There is no broadcast with DGT, with text or no text on the webpage. Sponsors are running away screaming.

MonRoi does not make money on game scores. Nonsense. I would like all tournaments to see transmitted by Monroi- they are always available and on-time, why bother with some servers which do not work.

You must have a crystal ball to know what some company?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s long term goal is. Hey Nostradamus- could you give me some insights into the stock market, so I could get rich fast. Your passion is amusing though?¢‚Ǩ¬¶

N.Lanier's picture

Monroi at Dresden

For round 10 of the Open, today no live games for the top 10 boards - one more example of the mishaps with online transmission from Dresden - or has Monroi put in the boot? Please note they seem to have exclusvie rights to the womens section, where they omit some of the top boards - but coily add a few open (male) boards on the bottom! I would love to hear the heated discussions between the DGT people, the Monroi reps and the Dresden organizers....fact is, Monroi is cheaper for a tournament organizer than the DGT fandangle - and the main concern of organizers is to have their event live on the web - and to hell with the consequences. A knind of devisl pact - anybody dreaming Monroi will provide online web coverage for free forever, will hava rude awakening...


N.Lanier's picture


Maybe here we discuss the wrong kind of question - it is not copyright of players for their games in danger - it is Monroi which is trying to copyright the games it has wheedled players and tournament directors into providing free of charge! Here is what Monroi says:

Our real-time tournament access Ticket is being provided free of charge for this event.

MonRoi Inc. reserves the right to charge users for such services in the future.
Click Here to Accept License Terms

Several things stand out, reading the license terms (a kind of user agreement).

1. Monroi is thinking of selling real-time access to tournaments in the future - so far this is free!!
2. Businesswise, it is a contest between DGT and Monroi, each with their resp. gadgets...but DGT does not claim any rights to the games harvested and transmitted....
2. Monroi will try to prevent anyone - journalists for example - to use games they have transmitted, entered into their database, and therefore to their intentions removed from the public domain!
3. If it wasn't so absurd - nobody can copyright the worlds chess games just because they create a database of them! - I would suggest to boycott Monroi, and refuse to input games via their little handhelds!
4. It is important, though, that tounaments do not become EXCLUSIVELY transmitted by Monroi, because that is putting the goods into their blighted hands. the long term view of Monroi is to actually to kidnap publishing rights for these games, by being the only publisher who can provide them!
5. Whether Monroi, Chessbase, or any other publishers shd pay rights to the players is a different question... pretty academic in my opinion.....

Mon roi et mon droit?!

Cheers Nick

Jean's picture

Peter, where did you see that Monroy?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s small print says that by registering to their website, you have agreed to recognize Monroi?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s copyright on game scores? I can see only ticket for watching games. I see a small print which looks as it discourages theft of live games, software, their inteface and not for game copyrights. Should there be no wording which expressly implies game copyrights, and should columns of Dann & Dondis be published, you may be liable for misrepresentation, misleading of public and libel, which is illegal.

BHABATOSH's picture

I think games should not be copy righted. If some is taking video of the match that is ofcourse copy righted. for example if you watch cricket match you can see the score in detail , so should be in chess. Annotated games could be copy righted no doubt about that .

but I strongly feel Chessbase should pay the players for archiving and selling games otherwise make the database freeware.

Nam Kyoo's picture

* Hiya, you there, you cannot make this move, since it is my intellectual property!

* I sue you for playing this game, since it is plagiarism!

* Add just a dummy move to each game and it becomes a whole new game.

Baird's picture

The malicious allegations about MonRoi could be easily fabricated by ICC and Chessbase, in an attempt to divert attention away from their fraudulent behaviors. ICC and Chessbase are evading accountability and sanction for stealing live games. Also, ask why the organizers in Dresden felled flat on their face when they installed DGT boards? Because DGT hides that their obsolete products malfunction. So- let?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s target a reputable, highly successful and innovative company to cover up for deeply inadequate manipulative fraud masters. But let?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not become cry babies when we see corporate sponsors running away from chess.

Yang's picture

MonRoi does not make money on games, Chessbase does. So- Chessbase needs to pay to the organizers and players for games.

Richard DeCredico's picture

Chessgames SHOUL be intellectual property of the players. No one other than the two players should have any rights and all proceeds (money) should go to the creators of the intellectual property (just like music, literature, etc.).

Richard DeCredico's picture

MONROI needs to be pimpsmacked back into reality.

Yang's picture

We were told that the NY Times will publish both columns of Stephen Dann and Harold Dondis. I was informed that the organizers asked MonRoi to place a disclaimer for live games at the monroi website. This is why:

?¢‚Ǩ?ìWatching license at the MonRoi site is built with an attempt to give the best efforts to safeguard live games of the organizers. It happened in the past that the sponsors paid to the organizers to broadcast their logos. The organizer invested in live broadcast equipment, and two companies vindictively stole live games and re-broadcasted them at their sites for their own selfish purposes of promoting their own services, without any tournament sponsor logos, disregarding the organizer investment and rights.?¢‚Ǩ? Are those two companies who performed theft of live games fraudulent or this would be considered an honest and admirable endeavor?

When some company is making money on selling CDs which contain databanks of games (some annotated and some not), like Chessbase, could that be considered selling of game copyrights? I am curious are they compensating the organizers for PGN files or taking them free of charge, run Fritz and then sell those CDs for 100 Euros each?

By the way- I was waiting to see games at the European Individual in Dresden. The first round started and not a single game was broadcast in a man section. I was informed that this is due to old wooden electronic boards, which were installed in a man section, and are failing to function. Contrary to that, the MonRoi system produced seamlessly live games of women. It appears as this technology is very advanced. I hope to see more tournaments using the MonRoi system, as I could watch games on a neat webpage with player photos!

centercounter's picture

Monroi can say what it wants. They are full of hot air.

It is well known and well established in FIDE and in the United States Chess Federation that the scoresheets belong to the organizers, technically.

The moves are "public domain" while analysis can be copyrighted. MonRoi is trying to make up its own laws. This is totally laughable in any court and should be challenged as soon as possible to put an end to it.

mehlman's picture

An important question seems to me what exactly a scoresheet is from a philosophical point of view? Is it comparable to an actual video or tape recording of, say, the Queen's speech, or is it rather more like a *description* of the actual speech? this is crucial for the copyright issue. Everybody is allowed to make any kind of description that he likes, but not everybody is allowed to copy tapes or videos.
Or what about this question: so perhaps the players or the tournament organization is not allowed to publish the games or whatever. But what about someone in the audience who has witnessed the game: is he allowed to publish the score of this game?

Mayadi's picture

Een partij is een gebeurtenis die plaats vindt tussen twee spelers. Het registeren van deze gebeurtenis door een derde persoon (of ding), betekent niet dat deze derde persoon die gebeurtenis gelijk kan toeeigenen. Het is al net zo bezopen als ooit het kolonialisme was.

Michel van Leeuwen's picture

Copyright voor de spelers lijkt me onmogelijk. Ik bezit de zetten van wit, mijn tegenstander die van zwart (of andersom). Zo wordt er nooit meer een partij gepubliceerd.

De meeste toernooiorganisaties halen juist met de zetten de meeste publiciteit binnen (en met de uitslagen).

Vergeleken met voetbal en de uitzendrechten lijkt het wel mogelijk dat een organisatie copyright heeft op zetten. Dat moet dan per toernooi contractueel worden vastgelegd. Wel lijkt het me een slechte ontwikkeling.

Voor live-weergave is het al voorgekomen (laatste WK in Mexico als in me niet vergis). Er moest betaald worden om de partijen live te volgen.

ortanak's picture

Als je aan een toernooi meedoeit is de partij toch eigendom van de toernooiorganisatie???

RR de Haas's picture

Iedere partij die voor een FIDE rating meetelt
zou openbaar moeten zijn en vallen onder de copyright van FIDE.
FIDE zou in principe iedere rating partij moeten beheren in een databank,en toegankelijk voor iedereen die lid van een schaakbond. Op deze manier gaan er geen schaakpartijen verloren voor het nageslacht.

Richard de Haas

deuts's picture

copyright? this is hilarious! hehe

maybe the person who annotates the chessgame has the copyright over his/her annotation, but not the chess game. Anyone can always claim that they have played also that series of moves....

peter's picture

[lang_nl]Ik heb een poll over dit onderwerp geplaatst in de grijze kolom.[/lang_nl][lang_en]I've added a poll on this subject in the grey column.[/lang_en]

anonymous's picture

Chessgames have to be public!

jan's picture

Nee, als partijen al gecopyright zullen worden, is dan een ramp voor het schaken, want de publiciteit ervan zal klappen krijgen.

Misschien kan je ze onder een Creative Commons-licensie zetten: zo zijn ze wel beschermd en jouw eigendom, maar mag je ze wel gratis gebruiken met de bronvermelding.

DamienBlack's picture

So, according to US and UN laws anyway, facts cannot be copyrighted. The fact that these two people played a game and these were the moves they made is public domain no matter what anyone says.

Analysis, on the other hand, can be copyrighted. Packages of facts, software for organizing facts or presentations of facts, can be copyrighted as well. But anyone can take the moves of a chess game and use it for whatever purpose, because they are a fact.

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