Columns | June 02, 2010 20:00

Bulgarian organizers take Chessbase to court

Bulgarian organizers take to court Chessbase for broadcasting the Anand-Topalov gamesThe Bulgarian organizers of the Anand-Topalov World Championship match take Chessbase to court for "violating copyright rules". Chessbase transmitted the moves of the match live on their Playchess server, against the will of the Bulgarians.

During the Anand-Topalov World Championship match it already became clear that the organizer were planning to take legal action against Chessbase for transmitting the moves of the match live on Playchess. On May 27th the Bulgarians filed a case at a court in Berlin, and Chessdom has now quoted Silvio Danailov on the matter:

Silvio Danailov"Before the start of the World Chess Championship we explicitly stated that no company can use the moves without the official site's staff permission. And this was violated by Chessbase, they put themselves above the law in Europe, above the general FIDE ethical rules. (...) I believe in European law and in our Attorney who is presenting the case - Mr. Rainer Polzin. What's more, I am candidate for President of the ECU and as such I have to stand behind the rights of professional chess. Such actions, as the one by the German company Chessbase, affect the sponsors of events negatively, which damages sponsorship, from there future organization and level of events. In the long run the biggest damage is made on the chess fans, who are the most important part of the game - they certainly deserve to enjoy high level events and have chess sponsorship on all levels. Thus, by defending our rights through European law, we will be defending all fans and the future of chess."

In an article by Dnevnik, Danailov states that the Bulgarians would expect to win at least 500,000 euros from this court case.

The attorney of the Bulgarian organizers, GM Rainer Polzin, has a law firm in Berlin. We asked him for some more details. He told us:

Rainer Polzin"The case has been filed at a court in Berlin [Landgericht - CV]. The action is partly based on the German Copyright Law, which is based in the protection of databases mainly to European directives. The EU directive (EU Directive) 96/9/EC of 11 March 1996 will play an important role.

Further claims from the Competition Law will be invoked. It is essentially a question of whether the live acquisition of content from a website, which is funded by sponsors, put onto another website, with the intention of generating profits, is admissible.

There have been some cases in Germany on broadcasting rights of football matches. But there it's clear what is copyrighted: photos, moving pictures and radio reports. The problem for the clubs is when reporters without prior permission for sale, after buying a ticket, make photos or videos. These are fascinating cases. But it's not comparable with our case, as ChessBase had no reporters in Sofia."

Media rights
The organizers of the Anand-Topalov World Championship match, which took place in Sofia, Bulgaria last month, managed to collect a prize fund of 3 million Euros: 2 million for the players, 400,000 for FIDE taxes and 600,000 for organizational costs. In an attempt to earn back at least part of that money, they tried to sell the rights to cover the event to other media. For instance, the Bulgarian national TV channel are said to have paid the organizers to have the right to film the players with cameras inside the playing hall.

The organizers also attempted to sell the media the right to transmit the games live on the internet. Silvio Danailov, the manager of Veselin Topalov but also one of the main figures responsible for the organization of the match, told ChessVibes a few weeks before the match that we needed to pay 15,000 Euros if we wanted to transmit the games live. Although we weren't sure about the legal situation, we were not inclined to fight this over court. Chessbase apparently was. All twelve games could be followed on the Playchess server.

Anand-Topalov

During the match, the official website transmitted the games live on a page with a standard DGT game viewer. Below the viewer, the following note was seen throughout the match:

Warning! It is absolutely prohibited the live broadcast of the moves or video during the game on other websites, media or software without the explicit permission of the organizers of the match. This prohibition is being violated by ChessBase.

Earlier warnings
It was not the first time the Bulgarian organizers did this. The same warning was placed on the official website of the Topalov-Kamsky match, also held in Sofia in February 2009. Back then the Bulgarians "won", since after being threatened with a law suit, Chessbase did stop transmitting the games. Arne wrote a column in which he discussed philosophical, legal and historical aspects of the issue. It led to 127 comments.

Meanwhile, we discovered that already in 2006 a similar note was published on the website of the MTel tournament:

(Sofia, May 13, 2006) Pirates broadcast the super chess tournament M-Tel Masters in internet. The biggest game server in the world ICC (www.chessclub.com) announces the live broadcast of the moves from the games in the tournament. The transmission is being done by using signal from the official web site of M-Tel Masters 2006 – www.mtelmasters06.com, which is violation of the copyrights of the organizes of the competition.

Interestingly, the Bulgarian organizers first attacked ICC, but in recent years they only seem to point their attack to the German company Chessbase. It's well known that the relationship between the Bulgarians and Chessbase has become very bad, especially after a video was embedded by Chessbase on February 11th, 2007 that was claimed to show "assistance given to the world's top-rated player Veselin Topalov during his games".

Why only Chessbase?
We asked Silvio Danailov why other media, like ICC, Chessdom, Susan Polgar and Crestbook (Sergey Shipov) were not taken to court. He answered:

Silvio Danailov"With Chessdom we have commercial agreement signed. Susan Polgar and Sergey Shipov I respect very much. Both are excellent professionals, doing a lot for chess, making it more popular. They are not commercial and don't resell the games. Having in mind all this, they had our permission.

With ICC I have long collaboration with mutual interest for both sides. But I explained already before that this is the last time; next time they should paid like everybody else."

Danailov added that the situation in the US is complicated, and would probably ask for more research, and more attorneys.

Motorola vs NBA
We asked John Henderson of the Internet Chess Club (ICC) about their experience with events wanting to copyright the games. He answered "Many threatened but never followed through" and then referred to the "Motorola vs NBA case", which to his knowledge basically settled matters until now in the States.

In that case, from 1997, the National Basketball Association demanded the exclusive right to transmit scores of basketball games, which Motorola was doing with their "Sports Trax" pagers. These were electronic devices which transmitted the scores, ball possession, and time remaining. Motorola obtained those scores by using public information, e.g. by watching basketball games on TV. Initially, in a New York court, the case was won by the NBA (comparable to the Bulgarian organizers). However, later Motorola (comparable to Chessbase) won the case, at the United States Court of Appeals For the Second Circuit.

Last year, the Staunton Memorial didn't even make its games available for free live; visitors had to pay five pounds to watch the tournament games. One and a half years ago, the organizers of the World Championship match in Bonn, between Anand and Kramnik also attempted to prevent other media from broadcasting the game live (they only allowed the broadcast elsewhere with half an hour delay), to benefit as much as possible from their new broadcasting system Foidos. This never became a commercial success.

Copyright: an old issue
The copyright-over-chess-moves issue is about as old as the game itself. During the very first big, strong, international chess tournament, London 1851, rule number 12 said:

"As the managing committee guarantee to every subscriber of a guinea and upwards, a correct copy of the whole games, and as considerable expense must attend the recording of so many games and their subsequent publication, it must be understood that no-one will be allowed, in the first instance, to publish any part of them without the express sanction of the committee." Source: Chess Notes

In many later disputes, the main point was always that if anyone would own the copyright over a game, it was the players themselves. The contract over the 1886 Steinitz-Zukertort match included a clause that gave the property right in the record of all games played in the match to each player. In negotiations for a match with Capablanca as early as 1911, Lasker wanted to claim the rights personally, because of his "activity in chess extending over more than 20 years". As was also pointed out by Arne in his column, Capablanca's point of view has always been taken as the general rule:

"A chess game, from its very nature and the manner of its production, must be the joint property of the two persons producing it ... You can charge what you like for the publication of the games in any form you may deem to your advantage. But, unfortunately, that is a common privilege, of which anyone may take advantage." Source: Chess Notes

Asked whether he thought the Bulgarian organizers had a chance, attorney Rainer Polzin answered us:

"Chances are good. You never know in court cases, but I'm a chess player. I don't make a move when I know my opponent can mate me in one or two moves."


Naturally we also asked Chessbase to comment on the lawsuit, but thus far we didn't receive an answer from them.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

Mort's picture

Newspapers frequently post updates in varius sports while they are still ongoing. I have never seen a lawsuit against a newspaper for that.

blueofnoon's picture

I dislike Danailov as much as anyone. But in this particular case his point is understandable.

Playchess is a commercial site, and it's offering live broadcast as a commercial service to its members. However, the source of their service is unauthorized.

This is like trying to make money with broadcasting music on internet radio but don't pay anything to the owner of songs you use.

Of course, unlike music you cannot copyright the moves of chess, but what about the right to broadcast them?

If you tried to make money with broadcasting tournament held by ChessBase (assuming there was one), would they feel happy?

I am not a lawyer myself, but really interested to know how the court will make a judgement on this case.

Octavian's picture

Do these guys want to popularize chess or not? I don't know how chessbase are making money by broadcasting these games. This has to be the most petty argument I've heard. Again, no surprise from team Toilet. This is indeed the norm for them...

redwhitechess's picture

there is something call Public Domain setting, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain maybe chess score fall on this category. Btw, chessbase is by putting it into database and charge for that service + software. on the other hand the organizer is correct to benefit the most from the show, if this is not happen then chess match will become free entertainment, then who lost??

Anon5's picture

Bulgaria vs. Germany - WWIII on the loom! Whose side are you on?

And WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones

arrages's picture

this is very clear.no need to hide behind legal arcana.chessbase and the other sites thath transmit tournaments without the organisers permision are thieves and parasites.without the organisers and their sponsors there would be nothing for the parasite sites to transmit.they must get the permision from the organisers,if they cant,they have the moral and easy option of organising their own tournaments.

Peter Dorman's picture

Until the previous comment, the one phrase I hadn't seen in this thread is "public domain". This may be US-centric, but it seems to me that the core issue is whether the moves, once posted on the web by the organizers, have the status of being in the public domain.

There are two possible reasons why they wouldn't: the moves themselves are the property of someone (the players, the organizers), or their display (e.g. the notation) is the property of someone. The first has no precedent as far as I know, and I predict Chessbase would be able to successfully argue that the world chess championship is fundamentally a sporting event (not an artistic or scientific production), so that the moves constitute "news" rather than intellectual property.

The second potential reason applies to forms of dissemination in which value is added -- the way a camera angle adds value to the account of a penalty kick, or the way wording adds value to a news article that discusses this kick. I can't see how Danailov can make the case that the information taken from the Bulgarian website, simply the moves expressed in common-property notation, has value added in this sense.

Is there any other basis for arguing that, once posted on the web, "Kf7" is *not* public domain?

antichrist's picture

Well stated Anon5. I've foreseen the following events in advance:

April 2010: Bulgaria declares war on Germany
June 2010: Bulgaria takes Germany to court regarding their bs copyright rules
September 2010: The European Union divide into 2 - Germany and its allies, and Bulgaria and its allies
October 2010: The French capitulate to Germany
December 2010: Russia joins the Bulgarians and America joins Germany's side
January 2011: Korea unleashes secret nuclear weapons on Bulgaria
February 2011: Russia conquers Germany
May 2011: China invades Russia and appoints PM as President of Russia
June 2012: Russia, USA, China, India and Germany all attack using nuclear bombs simultaneously.

Bye bye Planet Earth.

Peter, you have two years to stop this horrible apocalypse! You can do it!

Radical Caveman's picture

Reporting moves is basically just giving news, hence likely to be held uncopyrightable by courts. If someone forwarded the video stream the Bulgarian organizers were providing, then of course they could win the lawsuit on that one. That's how you protect your content--by making it rich enough. Copyrighting chess moves is a silly proposition, and I hope they don't find a court stupid enough to uphold it.

antichrist's picture

The tragedy of my prophecy is that if I'm right I won't live to say 'I told you so.'

spiderman's picture

Danailov just trying his luck. Looks like we wanted to get some attention. No fun at all!

DrTom's picture

The Bulgarians are dealing with it in the wrong way by summoning the "copyrights" : it's pointless and stupid to try copyrighting chess moves, but on the other hand they can sue chessbase for violating broadcasting rights.

A basic example to make things clearer : you can't copyright a football move (player running, passing, goaling and so on) in a football match... But football matches BROADCASTING rights are bought and sold by federations and televisions, Internet websites and so on ! It's definitely not a matter of copyrighting, but in the view of broadcasting rights, Chessbase is clearly wrong...
Just to add one thing about copyrighting : it is plain stupid because, if it were accepted, it would mean any chess player would have to pay money to the first guy who will register the sicilian defense, the QGA or QGD, or KID, etc. as his intellectual property, in order to play the same opennings. Wooo.
Now if I were chessbase I wouldn't worry too much, apparently the bulgarians don't have a f**kin clue about what they're doing. They probably never conceived a contract to sell broadcasting rights in the first place.

Martin's picture

I dont understand the discussion here. It's obvious that most of the people 'hate' Danailov. That's fine - I totally agree - but that's no reason in this. This is a clear fallacy. (Argumentem ad hominem: "this guy is an idiot, so he must be wrong").

Also I dont really understand the whole discussion on copyrighting. I am by no means an expert on this area, but it seems fairly obvious to me that there won't be a copyright on the sequence of chess moves itself. Otherwise we should all pay a fee to some Sicilian fellow :) You could compare this to Roger Federer playing serve-and-volley to win WImbledon, then being sued by -say- Pete Sampras, because he copied his strategy. I suppose everyone feels that this makes no sense at all.

So, I feel t hat the only area where they may have a point is broadcast rights. Again, I am no expert, so I can only state how I feel about and try to use common sense. Let's compare to football (yes, soccer). Here, the radio and television (and websites, I figure) pay to broadcast the games. Therefor, I would say that the 'publishing news facts' reasoning doesn't hold at all. After all, the news bulletin can state that the match score halfway is 2-1, but they cannot give commentary without proper broadcast rights. And this is exactly what ChessBase/Playchess is doing. And they are charging money for it!
So, I think that the Bulgarians do have a point.

However, I dont think a lot of money will be involved with this, simply because the less mediagenic (is that a correct English word?) value of chess and the clear small interest from the public - especially when comparing to football or basketball. In that light, he amount of money they tried to charge Chessvibes seems completely over the top. In any case, even when we are talking over a few hundred bucks, in principle it's their (or FIDE's, I don't know) right. As someone else proposed, they might just settle for publishing sponsor's logo on the PlayChess broadcast page as a payment, or in some (most?) cases the organize might just publish them freely, but at least then they came to an agreement to transfer the rights.

Some minor point: it doesnt matter - at all - where PlayChess got the moves from. Let's assume they copied it from Susan Polgar (which was non-live, but lets forget about that), I dont think the organizers agreed to Polgar redistributng the broadcast rights.

Martin's picture

Ah, I typed slowly. I see DrTom already posted some of my main point above.

WGIFM's picture

Actually I see here a couple of distinct but interrelated problems permanently mixed in this debate.
1. Copyright on moves in chess. (I do not think it is possible to negotiate any claims, because of the rich tradition and history of chess)
2. The question of retransmitting a live coverage. (I very much agree in this respect with Vladimir)
3. The question of legal claims (How does the whole issue fit in German legal system? I have no idea.)
4. Is it possible to prove the stealing at the court? ( By IP numbers perhaps it is possible. Still it is a rather weak pro Chessbase argument, that it is difficult to prove the retransmission. I think from ethical point of view they can still be condemned. At least among us)
i think these question should be considered separately and justifying/falsifying one of them does not have an obvious effect on answering one of the other questions.
cheers

JM's picture

@ Martin:

Are you sure a news bulletin is not allowed to accompany football scores with commentary? As far as I know, the BBC does this regularly. I don't think they always own the broadcasting rights, otherwise they would just show the video, right?!

Zee's picture

@DrTom and @Martin

You repeated the argument I made (comment #3). Be happy I'm not a Bulgarian chess organizer.

Zee

Arne Moll's picture

Great article, both sides of the arguments, etc. ... Still, I must say reading the current discussion makes me feel both happy and sad. Happy, because I've seen zero new arguments so far since my 'Shadows on the Wall' column from more than a year ago. Sad, because apparently nobody bothered to actually read this hyperlinked column or the comments below it and so history simply repeats itself without anyone moving ahead.

As far as I'm concerned, copyright on simply chess move sequences or live relay of them is not only impossible legally, but also just greedy and plain silly. I mean come on, don't these guys have something better to do, like prepare for a next tournament or something?
But of course Danailov is always one step of us and doing something even more silly: now he's sueing only one ' violator' instead of all of them! I must admit hadn't thought about that idea yet and I think we should have a vote and agree that this is probably his most idiotic idea so far. What a joke. Okay, time to get back to my sangria...

Martin's picture

@Arne, I have read some of it, but it's way too much to read everything carefully. You can't expect everyone to do an extensive internet search before posting a comment... I just noticed that the discussion is way too heavy on copy rights. You prove that by mentioning that yet again.

@JM, as far as I know, the commentary rights on football is only for the holder of the rights. But yeah, I'm not brittish, so I have no knowledge of brittish law, nor contracts between BBC and Premier League etc.

test's picture

Just the moves of the game is not commentary.
Copying Shipov's commentary (or anybody elses) would obviously be wrong, but it's not the same as just the moves.

VladimirOo's picture

@Arne,

if the analyze repeat, it is not necesseraly the analysts' fault, but rather that the situation has not changed at all so far... And it will keep repeat again and again with the same problem and arguments until law gets clarified (IMHO).

Tony's picture

The only argument that people seem to be bringing up that has any chance of winning is broadcast rights. So the argument would center around this key point. The argument then is that showing chess moves on a site is similar to showing the Olymipics or a football match oand the relay of the broadcast in these situations is monitored.
This argument falls apart though
1. Chess is a mental activity not a physical one so the action goes on unseen
2. reporting a move is more similar to reporting that a basketball team made a basket or football team scored
3. Once information is on a website it is public and therefore viral in nature. Public access, by its nature, means that the information is public regardless if you want it to be or not. If you walk down the street naked and tell people not to look at you would that work?
As a note not sure about German law but in the US if Bulgaria sued they would be lible for all fees if they lost.
IMO this is just more petty behavior because Bulgaria lost another match and they can not really direct their ire at Anand or it would backfire in the chess community. They are already on thin ice after the Kramnik mess. Who would come to MTel master if they alienate all the top players that are Anand's friends?

Jens Kristiansen's picture

I do not believe the Bulgarian organisers will win this lawsuit. But enough has been wiritten on the pros and cons of this.
Just this: IF the Bulgarians win this, it wil be a disaster to modern chess as we have known it for more than a decade. It will mean no more (almost) live transmissions and live commenting/-discussions of the games in progress at various websites.
It could very well be that FIDE should oblige organisers of the big events to live transmit the moves, available to all free of any charge. Did you hear that, Karpov?

cheesfan's picture

Maybe Mr Danailov hate chessbase, Mr. Moll.
"A video was embedded by Chessbase on February 11th, 2007 that was claimed to show “assistance given to the world’s top-rated player Veselin Topalov during his games”." Quite silly too IMHO. But Mr Moll prefer not to discuss this matter.

cheesfan's picture

Chessbase site grow his popularity using quoted "sensational" video based on non arguments, now don't have a permittion from organizers but violated. Maybe this is a moment to say stop. And matter go to court - very civilized method on West countries. Am I right or not? Maybe profesional lawers must desided - yes or not law ground on this case. Or maybe Danailov is a favourite villain in chess. Just borring how double standarts rule the disscusion IMHO.

Martin's picture

@Tony,
You make an interesting point, basically comparing chess moves to football goals or something alike. I didnt consider this before, but after some thought I still stay to my point. I'd rather compare chess moves to passes / combinations / shots on football (or whichever sport u like). Maybe tennis shots are a more appropriate - and evident - comparison though. I'm fairly sure there is some sort of agreement between Roland Garros and Eurosport, allthough that may not include payment. Also there the players do accept the broadcast of their acts and their picture rights (or however you call that in english). Undoubtedly this is done by accepting the tournament regulations.
I imagine this could be done the same for chess tournament, especially major ones like a World Championship match. It's not peanuts we're speaking about, after all!

@ Jens Kristiansen, I see you are affraid that this lawsuit - if he might win it - would end the modern chess world as we know it. I feel thats way over the top. I imagine most organizers would chose to freely distribute the games, because this attracts attention to their tournament and its sponsors. This is very important to most sponsors! Only a few top tournaments might be worthwhile to consider trading the broadcast rights. And even then, the question remains if this is financially interesting enough to put effort in it. After all - I have to state it again - chess is a fairly small and not very mediagenic sport.

Besides everything, I am not a huge fan of Chessbase myself. But I would have the same stance if they pursued ICC for example.

ColonelCrockett's picture

i published my comments to this post on Chessvine.com but here's the crux in regards the last statement (i.e. "Naturally we also asked Chessbase to comment on the lawsuit, but thus far we didn’t receive an answer from them."):

if corporate beaurocracy is ignoring you you're probably doing something right. ;)

keep churning out the info chessvibes team.

creed's picture

Copyrighting chess moves is not only morally right, it is legally correct. Here in more detail is why I think this true.

We've heard how reporting "news" as it happens is okay. Correct. But what does that mean? Also everyone seems to agree that "copyright" exists on Video, TV, similarly for older media like Radio, Photos and Newspaper Reports.

There are a couple of features to consider. Video, TV and Radio are broadcast communications and they are "multimedia". Photos and Newspaper Reports are published and they are "literary".

One common feature of all of them is that they present the information in a more-or-less "general" way, that is they don't precisely describe what is happening. TV and Video relay only part of the action of a football match. Radio reporters might say "Germany has passed the ball. An English defender has just tackled him and kicked the ball back to the goalkeeper." And so it goes on. Photos are similarly just a snapshot of a point in time and only from a particular angle. Newspaper Reports present more of a summary, perhaps describing how in the First Half of the game, the German team played well, attacked often and almost scored a goal after the 10 minutes. News is also things like reporting scores and what the winner said afterwards.

Yes anyone can report the same news. Nevertheless everyone agrees that you cannot just copy a Photo, or all the text from a Newspaper Report and publish these yourself. Neither can you simply copy a Video and publish it. That's because the reporting itself is copyright. Apart from publishing the final score of a match, which is deemed to be a "fact" and can therefore be reported as "news", the Photo, Report or Video itself is an "original" work. You have to similarly create your own original report. To do this you also need to be there to report it yourself. If not and you report somethign you read somewhere else, but using your own words, you still need to quote your source so they are credited as the original creator of the report.

So what about if it gets detailed and very specific? What then? What if I watch a chef bake something with a unique recipe invented by him, an original created work. But what if I report what he does in precise detail as "news" and by doing so I actually present the exact full recipe. Who owns that recipe? Me just because I reported it? No, its his recipe not mine.

Or what about if I am watching a musician play a beautiful tune on piano, that she has spent years practising and perfecting. An original work of musical art and genius. But because I have perfect pitch I am able to notate every single note in precise detail and what if I report that using a universal notation, called music notation. Who now owns the "literary" copyright of that piece of music? Me just because I reported it? No, its her music not mine.

What if I listen to an author tell a story that he has created and I sit there and report every single word he says as "news", do I now own the full and complete text of the story and am I free to just publish it freely and even make money by doing so? No, its not my story and what I have done is not report "news"!

Okay so what about broadcasting a chess game? I am watching two players play a wonderful artistic game of chess, which they are only able to do after years of practising and perfecting their game. The game is an original work of chessic art and genius.

Yes I can report in general terms, like "Capablanca just started a kingside attack, pushing his pawns forwards", and "Euwe has just resigned the game after he saw that Capablanca had a forced mate in three after he moves his Knight to E5".

But what if I report the game in precise detail, and I do so using chess notation. Who now owns the "literary" copyright of that game of chess? Me just because I reported it? No, its their game not mine.

I can't just "pass off" reporting of such precise details as being "news". Why not? Because they are detailed descriptions of original creative works and as such they are all, in exactly the same way, subject to copyright.

That copyright may lapse after 100 years and the "literary" works pass into the public domain, but until then I have no right to make "free" use of them, or even worse sell them on myself and make a profit from someone else's years of hard work and creative genius!

Even easier now there are computers because I can create mega databases and sell all these original and informative games without paying a single cent to the people who sweated blood to create them with their genius and skill. It is totally morally wrong, breaks copyright, and deprives them of any payment for their efforts.

Just because it has always been this way, doesn't make it right. Democracy didn't always exist in the world either, but things change and it does now.

bhabatosh's picture

after reading the above post judge would have said draw !
dont torture me with all these ..........

test's picture

@creed: You are talking about the chess game as a whole, not the individual moves as they are being "transmitted" (for lack of a better word), a distinction which I mentioned early on in this thread.

So that whole post just to make the point that an argument could be made for copyrighting chess games? Sure, I agree, an argument could be made.

The reality is that they are not, it would not work in practice anyway, which is probably why we have this de facto situation in the first place.

The discussion is whether or not "transmission" of the moves as they happen can be copyrighted or not.

Jean-Michel's picture

The best comparison for broadcasting of chess moves is baseball. Baseball is composed of well segmented "moves", each of which has a concrete result which can be reported as news. For example, such-and-such has thrown a strike to so-and-so with so many runners on base and so many outs. You can also have a scoresheet of the game (written down live) which contains all the essential information of what has happened, just like in chess. Sites such as Yahoo have a live game tracker with all this info. Does anybody know if this is free? I believe this is almost perfect comparison to the broadcasting of a chess game. As this is an American sport, I don't know if the law is the same in Europe, but I would assume it would be.

Tony's picture

@ creed
You talk about the morality of ownership but then who owns it? many games and moves are played around the world. GMs watch amateur games and gain ideas from the moves or even copy those moves in their games. What about games by computers who owns these? while the idea is nice it is not a reality since it is a gameand moves are finite.
We will end up painting ourselves into a corner,...

Guillaume's picture

The idea that every creative work can or should be exploited by their authors to earn royalties is bogus from the start. Mathematicians and physicist do not copyright their demonstrations or their theories. Nowadays, most of them even make their articles available for free on arxiv.org, and more than 200,000 articles are downloaded there every week. Just because the movie and music industries are exceedingly (and stupidly) greedy doesn't mean that other creative areas should imitate them.

Jonathan Berry's picture

Nobody has IP rights to atoms. They are what they are. But molecules can be IP, even if the "owner" did not create them--for example, the "owner" might have extracted and purified them from a patient or a plant, neither of which would have rights.

In a chess game database, the atoms are the games. No IP rights. But there are IP rights to the collection, the molecule. I guess it would be simple to add a game or two to a database to make an "original" collection ....

In a chess game transmission, the atoms are the moves. No IP rights to a chess move. The molecule is the game, the collection of moves which is organized in a unique way by the players, who have signed their rights over to FIDE, who might well have signed them back to the organizers, thanks for the 400 thousand beans. Claiming that the moves comprise the game of so-and-so makes it pretty clear whose IP you are pointing at. I'm not saying that there are IP rights in this molecule, just that it might be a more fruitful way of attacking the problem than what we've seen in Danailov's pronouncements and in commentary.

It does seem strange that by taking a chess game and "slicing it thinner", broadcasting each move separately, you might be creating rights where none existed before. But life and law do not necessarily make sense. Just musing. I am not a lawyer. Hey, if they use this argument in court, do I get a free vacation in Varna? A sabbatical in Sofia?

Roberto Alvarez's picture

Everybody knows who is going to win money: the lawyers! :-)
I believe this cas is a complete non sense... First, it is arguable to make a case for 500.000 euros against Chessbase... if you only "sold" the "rights" to ICC or another broadcaster for a few pennies...

Second, and most important... there is a BIG difference between broadcasting rights on media and on a chess game, since a game of chess is, by no means unique. For instance, in all the games of the Sofia Wch... every player follows-repeat well-known moves... then, there is not any "original creativity" which could be suitable of a copyright. Here we have an strong argument against copyright of the record of chess moves... Mr.Danailov (or others, including Chessbase) cannot claim the property of "chess moves".... And this was the SUBJECT of the broadcast, only the "moves", not pictures, or a direct camera broadcast...

Regards,

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