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

Timothée Tournier's picture

The players are paid to play (= produce but with the artistic notion!) games by the organizers, and their retribution depends on how well they play and so what their final standing is. So the games aren't the property of the players since they're paid by the organizers to produce them. Of course their are the properties of the organizers who had to find sponsors, etc...
It costs money because we live in the adults world
And then some bastards should use what you produce and MAKE MONEY WITH IT ? Could you just imagine a television channel not paying for a football match ? OR do you consider that the wonderful art of chess is not worth the same rules like Football ?
Really you have a problem.....

John Henderson's picture

I would imagine that the Bulgarians have a record in their servers of a bot from ChessBase gathering the moves - this is all they need to prove it was taken from their site. My best guess at what will happen is that (a) lawyers will make a lot of money and (b) there will be no clear verdict either way from the courts in this ruling.

guitarspider's picture

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The law doesn't care or consider what people care about. Chess moves are like news events and therefore no copyright applies. I'm curious how the Bulgarians are going to make their case, because:

The EU Directive Polzin quotes says "1. In accordance with this Directive, databases which, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents, constitute the author's own intellectual creation shall be protected as such by copyright. No other criteria shall be applied to determine their eligibility for that protection."

I'm no lawyer but it seems to me: this excludes chess games from the get go, because they are not the players intellectual creation (cf Hübner article). Even if they were, the organizers can only claim copyright if they select or arrange the material in a special way. This doesn't apply to a chess game, because chess games are not subject to formatting or selection like for example literary texts (which are not databses, but it's a good example). A commentary on a chess game like Shipov's would fulfill these criteria, imho not the broadcast of the game moves on the official site. Note that the variations of such a commentary are often attributed to their authors (x suggested move y here).

Third: If FIDE, or anybody else, claims intellectual property of a game it does not matter at all. Just because FIDE claims it does not make it so. UNLESS the courts decide that chess games are intellectual property there is no case here. But I don't think the Bulgarians are claiming copyright for the games themselves here. They'll claim copyright for the broadcast.

Nonationalism's picture

Alexander has the best and simplest argument. Unless they can PROVE Chessbase took the moves DIRECTLY from the official site, the bugarian claim is utterly chanceless.

VladimirOo's picture

IMHO, the reasonable behaviour for organisers would be :

1. to make pay others sites that make money with broadcasting
2. broadcast for free on their own website, so that their sponsors get visibility
3. allow broadcasting for free to small websites that only intend to promote chess without earning money, like a real business (the more people discuss and comment on the games around the event, the more it gets attention and people focused on it: good for chess and sponsors)

The main difficulty is that it needs to be done some work on the law to clarify it : Chessbase, (1)due to the fact that they broadcast the games (2) without signed agreement from the organisers (paid or not), won't be allowed to broadcast games.

Without forgetting to provide in the law some amendments to protect benevolents sites.

JM's picture

I seem to be recall that last time this issue was debated on this site there was some link to an existing piece of legal advice... If I recall correctly, the German chess federation requested this after Hübner wanted to copyright his own chess games. It was a written advice by some German lawyer, stating that the chances of copyrighting chess moves in the German legal system were very slim. I think it might be valuable to include this in the article.

I just found it, here it is: http://recht.schachbund.de/pdf_dateien/gutachten.pdf .

JM's picture

By the way, I believe the Bulgarians are never going to win a similar case in the US legal system. I'm not so sure about the German case. It seems possible that the Bulgarians will just financially overpower Chessbase. After all, this has previouly been effective:

Frederic Friedel (after Chessbase complied to a cease and desist order):
"It is too expensive, time-wise, to get involved in protracted lawsuits with Bulgarians, and there is little to gain, monetarily, from a victory."

Zee's picture

The copyrights probably belong to the players, with the problem that the players depend on earlier games. Do all chess players have to give royalty to whoever came up with the Sicilian defense? It is ridiculous to think so. Then we have the case of game 1 which both players had worked out at home on computers. Should they pay a royalty to their software suppliers?

Now, I think the Bulgarians may have a case with respect to broadcast rights, but even this is debatable.

Alexander's picture

Chessbase should claim they were broadcasting games via Susan Polgar's blog, as her site had no sign prohibiting copy-pasting the moves.

guitarspider's picture

I was going to post that Hübner link too. Looks like Chessbase has decided to stand and fight. I don't think they Bulgarians have much of a case, but I'm no legal export obviously. I just hope they don't.

Guillaume's picture

I'm sure Vishy Anand would be more than happy to transfer his copyrights on these games to the benefit of the entire humankind. Just ask him.

Is Silvio Danailov really trying to steal this copyright from World Champion Anand?

Hortensius's picture

Copyright on chess games rings crazy to me...

PH's picture

The Bulgarians may have a case about using their live signal. This sort of relates to Google using newspaper headlines, although Google's position ("we attract people to the original newspaper site") is different.
There is something in the law about using television broadcast signals, but that wouldn't apply to internet broadcast.
The case would be rather different if Chessbase had someone watch the games on the Bulgarians' website and repeat each move instantly on Playchess server.

test's picture

I think we should make a distinction between copyright on the game as a whole and copyright on the moves as they are being played.

Copyright on the game as a whole would make every database in existence illegal and not a single game could be published anywhere without consent from both players. Obviously this is absurd and would not work in practice.

Copyright on the moves as they are being played: imo they are news facts, so cannot be copyrighted.

test's picture

Here's an idea: some random chess fan attends the game in the playing hall and after each move goes outside and phones the move to Reuters. Reuters sends these moves out over their news feed. Let's see Danailov take Reuters to court for reporting on these news facts.

guncha's picture

The more I see Bulgarian actions the less I like them. At first a complete nonsense in Elista, then stupid MTel Masters 90+60 time control which favors Rybke type guys (Topalov) and gives less advantage to the ones who think over the board, then Topalov got privileges which loser of WCH match should have never got, then they used every opportunity to harass Anand etc. Topalov and Danilov are disaster for chess. They cannot accept that a few guys are better in chess than they are...

ebutaljib's picture

The problem is not that chessbase transmited the moves, the problem is that chessbase took the moves from the official site and re-transmited them to their server in real-time. That is the problem (without official sites they couldn't broadcast ANY of the tournaments they are broadcasting daily) and that is where they will lose on court. Chessbase doesn't have their own people in the playing halls who would transmit the "informations" (or "facts" or whatever you want to call it) to their server. No, they steal it from the official site and retransmit them without permission. THAT is the problem.

It's like some TV station would take the broadcast from some other TV station and retransmit it as their own.

It's about retransmission of the official broadcast and NOT about copyright of the moves.

Henk's picture

This was to be expected and the only reason the ,,...this clause is being violated by Chessbase etc" appeared every day at the the relay. A bit dumb to first offend and then decide not to go to court, as this is an interesting case, ultimately governed by European intelectual property law and not Bulgarian law, as Friedel insinuates. Also it would be fun to see Danailov in action with his third world demagogueries in a complicated legal case in a ´normal ´ court.

test's picture

>> It’s like some TV station would take the broadcast from some other TV station and retransmit it as their own.

It's not like that. A video feed is copyrighted.

Imo it does not matter where you get the moves. Ones the moves are out they are all over the place. Would it make a difference if they got the moves from ICC? Or Crestbook?
It's obviously true that getting them from the official site is the most convenient.

Sergio's picture

Ebutaljib you might be right about the stealing of the information from the organisers site, but how are they gonna prove that? It seems to me it is hard to prove where chessbase got the information from, since it has been published on more sites.

test's picture

>> Also it would be fun to see Danailov in action with his third world demagogueries in a complicated legal case in a ´normal ´ court.

Indeed. Demagoguery, word games or logical fallacies don't work in court. Only correct logical reasoning based on facts.

noyb's picture

The entire claim in spurious; the organizers broadcast the video of the event and the moves live themselves. Anyone in the world could turn around and post what they saw broadcast on that site (i.e., the moves of the game, after they had been transmitted). Chessbase did that, as well as dozens of other news organizations around the world. How can that be wrong? There was a delay between the time that the official site posted the move live and when Chessbase published the move. I know, because I followed every game live, and had to have both the official website up on my PC, and then switch over to CB and wait for the move so I could chat with users on CB about it.

This lawsuit is utterly ridiculous and without merit!

JM's picture

@ebutaljib:
You seem pretty certain in your predictions. I don't think anybody can say with that much certainty what the result of the court case will be. We've got only a single neutral legal source at the moment, the Hübner link.

On "retransmission of official broadcast":

One could interpret Polzin's words "live acquisition of content from a website" as "using the website's signal after a move is played to automatically update Chessbase's own game viewer". Hence, the case would be just about retransmission of the official broadcast. However, if this were true, legal victory would be pretty much useless for Danailov. Next time, Chessbase could just enter the moves manually. I do not think this is the intention of the Bulgarians. Danailov even talks about "permission" to Susan Polgar, while she didn't broadcast the moves live (moves were delayed).

On "with the intent of generating profit":

I think that the approach to acuse Chessbase of selling something they freely copied is bound to fail. The truth is, anyone could find the moves somewhere else. Thus, when paying Chessbase, you're not paying to follow the moves, but to follow the grandmaster commentary and have the opportunity to chat in real time. Even if this is not the truth, it seems rather difficult to prove otherwise in court.

Conclusion: I think it will come down to the "copyright of chess moves" discussion. The only way for Danailov to score anything but a pyrrhic victory is to get the court to confirm that chess moves can be copyrighted. The only independant legal statements about whether this is possible seem to answer this question negatively. However, nothing is sure until a court has ruled on this issue.

Guillaume's picture

I seriously doubt Chessbase will lose this on court. Last time, Chessbase had been taken by surprise, and they had decided to play it safe, but I'm sure this time they knew exactly what they were doing when they decided to broadcast the moves. I'm looking forward to see Danailov losing this ridiculous case. Is he trying to make fun of Germany as a nation? He might as well try to convince the organizers of the French open to sue Eurosport for broadcasting the score of the tennis matches played in Roland Garros. (I'm joking, Silvio, just stay where you are)

test's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong but: a newspaper is full of news which is not copyrighted.

I pay the newspaper for the effort of putting it all together in one place, for the effort of selecting the interesting news from the less interesting news, for the effort of the journalist going somewhere to gather the news, for the effort to write it up in a story instead of just a telegram style news feed, etc. The news itself is not copyrighted. I could take the news and write my own stories, as long as I'm not quoting verbatim the story as the journalist presented it.

Thomas's picture

As to Danailov's answer on "Why only Chessbase?", he might as well have said: Topalov fans and those which are neutral or rather avoid commenting on Toilet- or Volcanogate are welcome. Those who provide critical (in his opinion: biased or negative) coverage are not welcome - that's one thing Chessbase and Chessvibes have in common!? And ICC may be spared because apparently he wouldn't have _any_ chance in American courts.

I agree with Guillaume: It seems that Chessbase is well-prepared for the upcoming legal battle. But for Danailov it may - subjectively - be a win-win situation. If he wins in court, he wins. If he loses, he can add a new chapter to his "us against the rest of the world" story. And Germany might join Russia on his hate list - already, both Anand and Kramnik have friends, supporters and (former) managers from Germany ... .

Stephen Dunning's picture

I understand that according to the contract signed by the players, the rights to the games scores are owned by FIDE, not by the Bulgarian organisers.

I wonder if Topalove / Danailov used Chessbase software while preparing for the match?

Jarvis's picture

I'm just glad the word "demagoguery" is back in business!

VladimirOo's picture

@test, nice you saw my post.

Otherwise, i might argue your opinion:

"The only thing that counts is the video feed. In chess it is just the opposite; nobody cares about the video feed, all we want is the moves. And the moves are not copyrightable (imo)."

Yes, moves are not copyrightable: you would not ask every players on soccer, for instance, if they agree with broadcasting and everyelse.

But, in chess almost everybody cares about the immediate broadcasting of the game, and video feed is just bonus. How many people got connected during the games, to follow, comment on etc ?

Everybody cares about online broadcasting.

To answer your second question: you can watch the superbowl for free. NBC paid, and hopes gaining some money through commercial. The same process applies there: organizers rely on sponsors who hoped to be seen by everybody on the website during broadcast.

test's picture

>> I understand that according to the contract signed by the players, the rights to the games scores are owned by FIDE, not by the Bulgarian organisers.

Do you have a link to a document or page with the exact wording? Because if FIDE does have the copyright to the games, every website that published those games would have been violating that copyright.

Or are you referring to the regulations from the official site where it says:

"At the end of each game the players' original score sheets shall be given to the Arbiter, who shall hand them to FIDE. Score sheets and the games will remain the property of FIDE."

This is a bit weird. (Not unusual from FIDE, why do they even have this clause?)
Ok, so the paper it's printed on (score sheet) now belongs to FIDE. But does this clause also mean they now have the copyright to the game?

test's picture

Chess players can still make money from their games afterwards. Here's an example:
http://www.newinchess.com/Shirov___Fire_on_Board_Part_I-p-564.html

Bert de Bruut's picture

Any ruling Danailov would have procured inside Bulgaria would never have been enforcable outside the country, so he was right to start proceedings in Germany. But unlike his attorney, who of course wants to earn a buck, I deem his chances on gaining something on this case of intellectual property rights at near zero.

Rob Brown's picture

Danailov's litigious antics are clearly vindictive and infantile. What a tiresome individual he is!

adam's picture

seriously, this guy should be locked up

Harry Potter's picture

Silvio Danailov = Peter Pettigrew

http://www.mugglenet.com/images/pettigrew.jpg

Grijandel's picture

They asked for 15000 euros to transmit it? I doubt that figure can be the same for eveyone since I followed the games live from the DGT board (the moves were published even before than in the official website) from a site that cannot afford to pay so much. Perhaps they asked for crazy amounts of money only to people they didnt want to broadcast it.

test's picture

>> Yet here we see people arguing that you cannot copyright chess games as that would make every database liable to pay fees. Wee yes that’s the point. They should pay fees!

It's not technically impossible, but it wouldn't work in practice.

If you did enforce such a rule then: A) we wouldn't be seeing any games anymore (& the end of professional chess) or B) the rule would be broken everywhere and by everybody and mean nothing.

Stephen Dunning's picture

To "test".

The quotation you have from the regulations is the paragraph I was aware of. Exactly what they mean by "games" is unclear. If the game was largely prior preparation, they could not own it.

However, it does suggest that the FIDE, not the organisers should be suing Chessbase. It strikes me that this paragraph in their own regulations might be enough to scupper their case.

VladimirOo's picture

Hum, i do not like the bulgarians and especially not Danailov, but, in this case, provided that we talk about "moves copyright" and not about "scoresheets copyright, well i see this case not that clear at all.

In fact, i quite understand the bulgarian's opinion.

This is different to let's say NBC paying rights to the organisers to broadcast the Olympic hockey final, the various sponsors that spend a lot for their ads vs a web site that broadcasts the live through somebody who connects his TV to internet : therefore on the net, you can watch 'for free' NBC's broadcast. Nobody except tv sellers will complain for you do see commercials on this kind of broadcast.

But, with Chessbase, you see none of the sponsors: it is all free for Chessbase, who paid or agreed to nothing to have the right to broacast, and it earns them a lot. Bulgarians (and sponsors) spent money to organize this event, retribute the players and set up a website.

Not that simple, for me.

Redmar's picture

Interesting case, let's see where it ends. But I do not understand the reference to this European directive on database.

"For the purposes of this Directive, 'database` shall mean a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means."

How on earth can a chess game that is broadcasted live constitute a database? Clearly, it is not.

Furthermore: only an author that has created something intellectual has a copyright under the Directive: "In accordance with this Directive, databases which, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents, constitute the author's own intellectual creation shall be protected as such by copyright."

So I hope for this German lawyer that he has other provisions to rely on or the case will hopelessly fail. Probably, all this talk about European law is just for the sake of Danailov so he can say "I trust European law" instead of I trust German law.

Serdal's picture

Even if Danailov wins this case, it is not clear to me at all how things will happen in the future, because - as stated by many commenters - it is pretty hard to keep Chessbase users from telling the moves in the chat.
So what's his plan? Revenge or satisfaction he may get but probably there's no other way to cooperate with chess servers in future, e.g. by agreeing that the sponsors' names and/or logos appear on their sites. But going to court... way to earn the good vibes needed for cooperation.
I've read some comments about how Danailov might be starting a campagne against Germany - at first I didn't think that was true at all, but who is up for European chess president now? Yes, a German. Could it be that Danailov wants to damage von Weizsäcker even though he's nothing to do with Chessbase?

test's picture

>> Another issue: Formally, Danailov didn’t play a role in organizing the WCh match

Indeed. His actions now just confirm (if there was ever any doubt) that they really were one and the same anyway.
But I don't think this will prevent him from pursuing this case; I suppose he could act "on behalf of the organizers" or something like that.

Thomas's picture

@Serdal: Well, von Weizsäcker is president of the German Chess Federation, and Chessbase is a "partner" (sponsor?) of that federation. Whether this plays a role in Danilov going to court is unclear - the history of animosities between Bulgarian organizers and Chessbase predates von Weizsäcker's and Danailov's candidature.
But one thing seems clear: Chessbase has nothing to fear from an ECU president von Weizsäcker, but Danailov - if elected (which I don't hope) - will probably try to exploit his new role.

Another issue: Formally, Danailov didn't play a role in organizing the WCh match - he isn't on the organizing or executive committee. Maybe FIDE insisted that the manager of one of the players shouldn't officially be part of the organization - of course it can't be a surprise to anyone that he still pretends to be and makes lots of noise. It would be laughable if the court case is rejected for that reason ... Polzin could still write a bill. Danailov may hope that Chessbase still backs out seeking a compromise before things are decided in court?

creed's picture

I think it is morally wrong to deny the copyright of games to the creators i.e. the two players. Every chess player in the world should be able to license their games and earn money from it. Players lose a lot every single day. Most professional players find it very difficult to survive financially. Yet here we see people arguing that you cannot copyright chess games as that would make every database liable to pay fees. Wee yes that's the point. They should pay fees!

Or let's say that chess professionals earn their money from playing in big tournaments. Well to get big prize money you have to let the organisers have some rights. Seems to me that is what happened here.

Another example. Let's say I'm watching a band or musician compose a song. As they play it, I write down all the music. They don't like what I'm doing but I tell them that I'm simply reporting each musical note played as "news". I then say that once the music is out, everyone in the world will have the right to publish the music to their songs without paying them a single cent.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like Danailov or the fact that the so called 'Anand-Topalov' website basically denied the existence of Anand. Nothing on it really about the World Champ or his victory. All one sided. Disgusting.

However I do think that the 'freebie' use of chess games has gone on for far too long. In that sense only I have to say I do hope Chessbase lose this battle and that money is paid to the copyright owners. It is the only fair and morally correct way.

Heisusingrybka's picture

Silvio Danailov = Peter Pettigrew (From Harry Potter).

Heisusingrybka's picture
test's picture

>> Bulgarians (and sponsors) spent money to organize this event, retribute the players and set up a website.

I understand your point, but (unfortunately?) it doesn't work the same way in chess as it does in most other sports.
Nobody is interested in JUST the score (or a text only version) of a soccer/football match. The only thing that counts is the video feed. In chess it is just the opposite; nobody cares about the video feed, all we want is the moves. And the moves are not copyrightable (imo).

Also think about this: if they didn't want anybody to offer the moves for free, why did they offer them for free themselves? They could have charged money for access to their website. They didn't. Probably because they realized very few would be paying and just wait till after the game to replay it. Who would have benefited in that scenario? Nobody. Who would have suffered: everybody.

Joe's picture

I don't think claiming the games to be anyone's property makes much sense. About as much sense as claiming a certain football match to be someone's 'property'.

I can see that the broadcasting rights can be claimed by the organizers though.

JM's picture

@ Timothée Tournier
Nice to know some of us have such a wonderfully nuanced opinion... I would take the time to point out the flaws in your reasoning, if I thought you'd bother to consider my arguments seriously...

sirschratz's picture

now that the match is lost, mr. danailov maybe is just frustrated and is maybe just looking for a new arena to show how powerful, how strong, how important he is.... oh dear, oh dear, why is this man so shockingly loud? is this the way people behave in bulgaria?

apart from the legal aspects - it's the tone, the manner, the mentality that reveals itself here!
do we really want to see the ecu ruled that way in the future? do we really want all this hot air, this pumping up when it comes to chess in public? bulgarian sponsors seem to like that but what will sponsors think who live in countries where a bit more than just high voltage is considered necessary?

why does one have the impression that too much testosterone could be made use of in a more joyful way? or are we in the case at hand talking about a lack of testosterone, gentlemen?

anyhow, is it allowed to use the toilet and just flush it all? or is there a man from bulgarian again shouting out his high-pitched PROHIBITED!? DONT'T USE THE TOILET!

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