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 Post subject: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #1 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:16 am 
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There is a website, Tsumego Hero - https://tsumego-hero.com -, that has collections from books, like "1001 Life-and-Death Problems", "Counting Liberties and Winning Capturing Races", "Get Strong at Tesuji" and other commercial sources.

As far as I know - and has been discussed here - individual problems cannot be copyrighted, but the collection itself can be. That is, it's more the grouping that can be copyrighted and not the content.

Is that website ok then?

I'm asking because I'm also working on problems from commercial sources, but am going to some lengths to avoid presenting them in the context of the collection. That is, I'm tagging problems by type and technique and other aspects. You can see the work at http://gogamespace.com/training/

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #2 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:53 am 
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If you want a serious answer, I'd discuss with an IP lawyer.

Here, you'll get what Joe Schmoe thinks the law *should* be, or how s/he interprets things.

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #3 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:50 am 
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A good overview of the legalities in the US and Europe can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_in_compilation

Summary: if someone compiles a database of material, then the compilation is copyrighted independently of the underlying material, as long as the compilation is a "creative" process.

Whether selecting go (or chess) problems according to a theme or difficulty level constitutes creative work has not, as far as I know, ever been tested in court.

My personal opinion is that selecting go problems according to a theme or difficulty level obviously constitutes creative work, and I would say that tsumego-hero is violating copyright.

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #4 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:19 am 
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HermanHiddema wrote:
My personal opinion is that selecting go problems according to a theme or difficulty level obviously constitutes creative work, and I would say that tsumego-hero is violating copyright.


I'd agree that the site violates copyright if the theme here is "the collection of problems contained in book X". I'd disagree if the theme was "a collection of sabaki problems that came from multiple sources".

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #5 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:53 am 
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@Marcel: There's no "if" about it, is there? The site presents the problems by collection, as far as I can see.

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #6 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:00 am 
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HermanHiddema wrote:
@Marcel: There's no "if" about it, is there? The site presents the problems by collection, as far as I can see.


Sure; it's just that I'm more interested in the alternative - that is, that there is no issue (discernible to IANALs) with collections mixed from various sources - which is the basis of my site.

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #7 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:32 am 
Oza

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I don't think it's true that individual problems cannot be copyrighted. I think this view stems from the fact that it's usually easy to change the problem by adding or removing stones, and the underlying idea (e.g. a double snapback) is obviously not copyrightable.

But think of those problems where the solution creates (key word) an image such as a heart or Snoopy or a kanji or a letter. I'd bet those are copyrightable.

However, that's an unresolved side issue. Think of it this way instead. There's morality as well as copyright. On the face of it, the hero site does breach copyright (and so links should be banned here) in my view, but over and above that it clearly deprives the original authors of potential income by appropriating their work. I know that Richard Bozulich, who seems to be the main victim, is angered by the multiple instances of infringement elsewhere, as he has every right to be. It certainly does not work as "free advertising" for him.

So, in a small community like western go, why are you even discussing upsetting people like Richard who have done so much for us? There are plenty (thousands) of tsume go problems available that are out of copyright. You could write and ask Richard for permission if you specifically need his problems.

Your idea would almost certainly make you untouchable in the legal sense, and I can easily accept that you are adding value. But, depending on how closely you follow the originals, it would risk making you untouchable in the other sense - as I hope users here will treat the hero site, which appears to offer no added value.

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #8 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:00 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
But think of those problems where the solution creates (key word) an image such as a heart or Snoopy or a kanji or a letter. I'd bet those are copyrightable


I agree that these creations are probably copyrightable and I wouldn't use them.

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So, in a small community like western go, why are you even discussing upsetting people like Richard who have done so much for us? There are plenty (thousands) of tsume go problems available that are out of copyright. You could write and ask Richard for permission if you specifically need his problems.


Many of the problems in "Get Strong at Tesuji" or "Get Strong at Life and Death" as well as many other western books are not the publisher's original invention; I've seen them in other places, like older Japanese books.

Likewise in the Japanese Monthly Go World magazine (and others), the "time trial" problems that appear there are mostly (completely?) taken from other sources.

Same for the material from "Graded Go Problems for Dan Players" (translated from the Nihon Ki-in series) - the problems at the 1-dan or 3-dan level at least - tsumego, tesuji, joseki - are mostly standard situations.

So while I certainly wouldn't use an author's original problems or other material, I don't see an issue with using problems that apparently have been passed around for decades. Neither do I see an issue with using joseki sequences or refutations of joseki mistakes.

By the way - I've asked another author of western problem books how he got permission (from Japanese sources, I'd assume) to use those problems; he said that often he didn't ask. Of course, two wrongs don't make one right and I don't plan on using original content.

EDIT: Fixed incorrect "quote" tags.


Last edited by Marcel Grünauer on Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:35 am, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #9 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:27 am 
Oza

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Marcel

I agree that most problems are rehashes of old material (and so freely re-usable), but as that's so obvious I wonder why you raised the question, especially making references to "commercial" sources with a (to me) implicit suggestion that you were planning to go down a similar road to hero. Maybe I read too much into it.

Incidentally, there are several Japanese pros who've objected to misuse of their work (in the sense of straight copying). They include Cho Chikun, Yoda and Kobayashi. Cho is especially relevant here because of his life & death book. They don't actually do anything about the reivers, but that doesn't mean it's cost-free for western go players. It just adds to the general atmosphere whereby, for example, the Nihon Ki-in and its sponsors have decided it's just not sensible to be so generous to western players any more. Indeed, given the royalties they demand for translating their books now, you can even say it's made them a bit greedy!

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #10 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:30 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I agree that most problems are rehashes of old material (and so freely re-usable), but as that's so obvious I wonder why you raised the question, especially making references to "commercial" sources with a (to me) implicit suggestion that you were planning to go down a similar road to hero. Maybe I read too much into it.!


Yes; in hindsight I agree that my original question was poorly worded. Maybe I was overly cautious. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Tsumego Hero and Copyright
Post #11 Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:32 am 
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Exceptions are: proper citation of short parts, copy with the copyright owner's / author's preliminary agreement, copy 70 years after the author's death. Otherwise, copyright law, such as the Berne Convention and national laws, applies. It means that reasonably short extracts may be properly cited in a new work that is creative, that is, is not just copying pretending to be concatenated citation. Longer citations can be possible in scientific work or the like, where the new contents cannot be created without detailed study of sourcees.

Writing a book takes months. Copying substantial parts of its work takes hours. This relation is sufficient to make it obvious when excessive copying without permission / excessive citation and hardly any creative new work is illegal and subject to penalties.

Positions may be played by everybody but problems are more: they have a creator. In books, problems are part of their creative work. This means that problems that are not common go knowledge because of being frequent shapes or from old classics or public domain deserve credit or proper citation. When I write a book, I create almost all of the non-standard-shape problems but it happens that a few special problems by others fit, for which I acknowledge their creators even if I marginally modify the problems. I embed them in my own creatively written text.

Problem compilations may exist, especially if text and variations are in a new creative commenatry. What is reasonable for compilations? As a wild guess, take at most 5% of the problems from a single source and properly cite for each individual problem, maybe with footnote and index.

If one takes pride in creating one's own creative work, one does not lose pride by including short citations or the like and stating acknowledgements. Plain copy is, however, nothing to be proud of and can in fact be illegal under the laws.

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