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MatPlus.Net Forum General Composition and Copyright
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(1) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Sunday, Jun 24, 2007 09:57]; edited by Siegfried Hornecker [07-06-24]

Composition and Copyright

Should there be an extensive use of copyright for chess composition? Should every composer be able to decide himself, if a composition should be reprinted and where?

I am against this - against copyright at all - since I believe it infringes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UD), especially article 19 and 22 [1] However, since music and other art is copyrighted (which is imo a crime against human rights as mentioned) we should add somewhere - not only in the codex but in a legally binding document - that every composer surrenders all of his rights to reprint etc except his authorship.

I nowhere see in the UD any passage where an author or anyone else is entitled to hold art back to only let it enjoy a certain kind or choice of people.

What do you think?

Article 19

Every one has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right does not include freedom to irritate without interference from others, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

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(2) Posted by Uri Avner [Sunday, Jun 24, 2007 14:12]

Such copyright in chess composition is insignificant just because no one believes he can make any money out of it. So, a declaration of giving up our rights is not really needed (unfortunately).

But when that day comes that the whole world recognizes the great value of chess compositions and the demand becomes incredibly huge, then...
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(3) Posted by Michael McDowell [Sunday, Jun 24, 2007 14:27]

Recently a representative from a Japanese company called G-mode who produce games for mobile phones contacted me through the BCPS website on the subject of copyright of chess problems. Apparently they are planning to develop a product involving problems.

It seems rather a coincidence that the topic has now been raised here!

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(4) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Sunday, Jun 24, 2007 17:50]

I don't know about them but I always dreamt of creating a program that teaches people to compose, something like a tutorial but with some story like an adventure game.

But yes, it's coincidence, I never heard of them. I just believe all art should be freely available to everyone.
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(5) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Sunday, Jun 24, 2007 17:57]

You hit the nail right onto the head: cash, dough, greenback
is what counts.

BTW, I see an analogy to a scientific paper. When I submit a
paper for publication, all rights automatically go to the
publisher. That doesn't hinder "fair use", though, e.g.
lifting an illustration from a paper and using it. With a
proper citation, of course, and that is standard usus in
problem chess anyway.

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(6) Posted by Hans Gruber [Sunday, Jun 24, 2007 18:43]

Hi all,

one question that once was risen by bernd ellinghoven (in "feenschach") was whether a composer can FORBID someone to reprint his or her problems (correct citation taken as granted).

There is no legal force (fortunately) to do so. As Uri mentioned, this results from the non-profit character of chess composing. Music composers, in contrast, earn their living from their compositions and are paid for reproducing the artifacts (notes, scores) and for public performance of their pieces. There is quite general agreement across many societies that music composing is considered a kind of (protected) profession.

In OTB chess, the question whether it should be forbidden to reproduce (without fees) games played by professional players arises at regular intervals. Such discussions can be traced back (at least) until the beginning of the 20th century. No generally agreed ways (again fortunately) have ever been developed how this issue could be handled. OTB professionals, thus, have to earn their money differently (playing and winning important tourneys, playing simultaneous performances, deliver chess teaching, participating in chess tourism, etc.).

Hans Gruber

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(7) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Sunday, Jun 24, 2007 18:56]

Dear Hans Gruber,

I don't like to argue with you but at this one point I sadly have to.

There is no legal force (fortunately) to do so.

There is "Urheberrecht" (for non-german readers: a german law similar in most ways to copyright) that can prevent anyone to reprint anything even if non-commercial. It makes impossible copying more than a (un-)certain number of words from somewhere else, even with quotation, and expires only 70 years after the death of the original author. For some weird reason it's regarded higher than public interest. This opens - in the worst case - the door to censorship of everything of at least the last 70 years.
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(8) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Monday, Jun 25, 2007 13:04]

The "fair use" number naturally is uncertain: if I'd copy a paragraph
of Josten's new book (say, about some Bristols) here, he certainly
won't object. If I ULed my lectors copy to Rapidshare, though, he would
have all right of the world to sue my backside off :-)
Likewise, if someone reprints Reddmanns Glorious 1st Price in his
problem chess mag, I would neither care whether he informs me or
even gives me a free copy in return (I won't object either :-)
If he copies all my problems from my site and makes a book earning
big $$$ of it, then I would sue HIS backside off.

It's a gradual thing, many lawyers live on it, and as the Honored
Judge Rehnquist once said: "I know it when I see it." (He didn't
refer to copyright infringement, though ;-)

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(9) Posted by Hans Gruber [Tuesday, Jun 26, 2007 10:23]

Yes, Siegfried,

of course you are right concerning "Urheberrecht". With "fortunately" I wanted to address that so far nobody has seriously tried to get Urheberrecht in chess composition (maybe because it is not a profession). And because we still are such a small community that it is important to get acknowledged, reprinted, etc.

Some mails ago, the similarity to scientific publishing was mentioned. The situation of the actors is similar: You are member of a rather small community, and it is important to be cited and well-known. On the other side, it is a professional issue, and that means that professional institutions (research institutes, libraries, universities) are concerned, and quite a lot of money flow is happening. Thus, publishers are professional as well, and they earn money with their publications. And thus a copyright system was implemented. It is always a balance between guaranteeing the copyright and getting cited. Things are complicate if you want to reproduce pictures, tables, figures, etc.

Thus, "fortunately" chess composition is just fun, not profession.

hg hg

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(10) Posted by [Tuesday, Jun 26, 2007 23:59]

Perhaps I misunderstand something ... but there seem to be no reason at all
for thinking that compositions are not protected by copyright: they are
clearly 'artistic' in the sense of the Berne Copyright Convention and other
similar regulations.

But there is also a kind of tacit agreement that reprinting one or a few
problems (i.e. not an entire book or other collection) is OK, as long as
the composer is acknowledged, and the source from which they were taken
is referenced. This is almost a tradition: in practice noone will sue
for what is legally speaking a copyright infringement (such as reprinting
a Schwalbe problem in the Problemist).

It would be interesting (only from a technical point of view, of course)
if the question was decided in a court of law: Composer X sues publisher
Y for reprinting one of his problems without permission. Just how far does
the 'tacit agreement' go?

Profit does not play any part in international copyright regulations --
a copyright infringement is an infringement even if it's not for profit.
Legal practice varies, though: in the US, lost profits are usually important.
In France, less so. But if the infringement touches on inalienable
rights (the right to be recognized as author, the right not to have the work
misrepresented, etc.) it can't matter if it wasn't done for profit: this damage
is of a different kind.

I think it would very ill advised to try to sidestep an existing body of
law by an agreement or a dictum that it doesn't apply. In fact, I'm not sure
if it is legally possible to agree that national or international law should
not apply.

As to viewing reprinting other's chess problems to be an cultural right
indispensable for personal dignity and necessary for free development of
the publisher's personality ... well, it doesn't seem likely, does it?

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(11) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007 01:11]; edited by Siegfried Hornecker [07-06-27]

Composer X sues publisher Y for reprinting one of his problems without permission.

Yes, we should exactly do this. I'll violate copyright by reprinting a problem by someone and he will sue me. Then we'll go all the way up to the "European Court of Justice" (remember: it's still only one problem that is copied) so they have to speak a "Grundsatzentscheidung" (literally "principle decision").

Of course, I don't want to be sued since I simply don't have enough money for this lawsuit...

We had a "Grundsatzentscheidung" (literally "principle decision") about OTB games some time ago. Dr. Hübner (the german OTB grandmaster) wanted to get "Urheberrecht" (similar to copyright) acknowledged on one of his games. He failed but for reasons that couldn't apply at all to composition. If I remember correcly, the judge(s) said it can't apply since his partner played against him so it couldn't count as art or similarly. I only can suggest searching on internet for that case (it must have been very recently, maybe around 2004 or 2005). It is mentioned in Wikipedia, too (I don't remember if in german or english one, though).

As to viewing reprinting other's chess problems to be an cultural right
indispensable for personal dignity and necessary for free development of
the publisher's personality

Of course it is necessary! Think about people writing articles. They won't do only for the readers but also for theirselves, to gain experience, to express their thoughts. If copyright would be thought to have a greater value than freedom of speech, of art, then nobody ever could reprint other's works. There could be no more books about chess composition. We'd come to an era darker for composition than it ever was before.

At the moment the codex allows reprinting of chess compositions (if I remember correctly) but there must be the question if it is a legally binding document. I don't think so.

And as I said above, preventing public availability of any kind of art in my opinion clearly contradicts with/to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I believe all art should be publicly available through a central organ to all humans (and this should include even forbidden arts like "the satanic verses" of Salman Rushdie). For books we already - don't forget this! - going the correct way with librarys. For music this way easily should be gone (but then there should be special "prints" [is this called so in english, too?] for public data mediums to prevent those from being copied). For pictures and chess composition it won't be that easy, though, but we'll have to find a way.

Who is talking about "freedom" while destroying it by such laws? We ain't!
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(12) Posted by Frank Richter [Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007 09:22]

In my opinion the whole discussion is quite useless. Who likes may license his compositions using the well-known "Creative Commons" and it is perfect.
See here:

resp. in German:

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(13) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007 09:28]; edited by Siegfried Hornecker [07-06-27]

I know, but not everyone would do that and who - who else than a central organ with way too much time, at least - can tell us which compositions exactly are licensed at CC and which are not? And who - who else than a composer with way too much time, at least - will publish again all of his already published composition and license all one by one as CC?

I'd prefer CC-BY-SA 3.0 for that reason so my name already must be mentioned, by the way.
But - still I'd also prefer CC-BY-ND.

Both cases are not good enough unless it is specified exactly what is a derivative work. I don't like to stop composers from advancing my ideas but I'd like to be mentioned for it and I'd like to not allow plagiarism.
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(14) Posted by Hans Gruber [Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007 16:51]

Hi Frank,

I guess that you consider this discussion as fruitless, because you know that you as editor of a magazine just would not care if any composer claimed any copyrights (of course, you cite reprinted problems as we all use to do, by giving author and full source) - because you can be pretty that you will neither be accused not put into prison for that. That is good with our chess composition world.

hg hg

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(15) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Thursday, Jun 28, 2007 13:40]

The first risk to a Chess composer is that his name can be effaced from his diagrams - This ocurred sistematically, for instance, when the Chess Problems from Arab and Persian authors from and before 950 A D started to be appreciated in Europe: the authors and copiers of the manuscrits (in the best cases) could not read the names in another alphabet, and the Chess positions were reproduced without acknoledgment of autorship (Only the XXth Century researches corrected some mistakes from the darker times...)

A more recent case that I can remember was a book, from a series called "200 etc" (in that instance it was something like '200 intriguing chess puzzles', or the equivalent in Portuguese) An 'author' was quoted, surelly the compiler, a name from someone from the USA or the UK, presumably) - The problems appeared in this edition just numbered, with 'solutions in the end' - but they were the same old nuts we know, from Loyd, Shinkman, Berger, etc, etc: Numbered, nameless diagrams!
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(16) Posted by Hans Gruber [Thursday, Jun 28, 2007 23:21]

Yes, Zolmen, this is very unfortunate, and we might wonder whether the omission of composers' name was intentional or incidental. But the only "means" we have is to review the book in our magazines and web pages and clearly recommend: "Do NOT buy it, the author either knows nothing about our community or wants to behave like somebody who knows nothing about our community." We cannot punish the author and/or publisher else. That's what I meant with absence of a legal force concerning copyright.

hg hg
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(17) Posted by Hans Gruber [Thursday, Jun 28, 2007 23:22]

Dear Zalmen, sorry for the typo ("Zolmen").

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(18) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Friday, Jun 29, 2007 17:06]

Dear Hans: In the case that I mentioned, the names and other informations where absent even from the solutions section, and with no other space for register of names (can be an omission from the local edition), but not likely to be repeated - later they published another book on Chess Problems with a much better level in this particular... Of course I have not that edition without the sources (and for this reason I can not even mention names - I have not the proof of the delict at reach!) - The happier side is that an interest on Chess Problems still exist... Zalmen
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(19) Posted by [Saturday, Jun 30, 2007 09:59]

>Of course I have not that edition without the sources (and for this reason I can not
>even mention names - I have not the proof of the delict at reach!)

Could it be Martin Greif? He has issued a series of problem books with no author names or sources, and
rather old-style solutions (I seem to remember they indicated double and discovered checks).
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(20) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Saturday, Jun 30, 2007 10:37]; edited by Siegfried Hornecker [07-06-30]

To those who omit names intentionally we should send a kind letter. If it is repeated (e.g., in the next version of the book) we should use legal enforcement to make sure we're mentioned.
I don't consider copying an infringement of my rights (I like reprints as all artists most probably do if there's no capitalism behind) but plagiarism. Omission in such a manner is like claiming hundreds of pictures/musical compositions/etc to be one's own.

If the address of the author is unknown (in most cases luckily it isn't although there are people like Tim Krabbé or Dr. Helmut Pfleger who don't have their address revealed) we should send an e-mail. If there's no e-mail address (which is almost never the case except maybe for politically hunted people like Fischer or Kasparov) we should send a letter or e-mail to the publisher.

And I have seen people doing so, almost ever OTB players who obviously know little about composition. So don't send the lawyers at the first time, just send a kind letter! Save your lawyers for Senkus, Stadelmaier and Strebkovs. :-)

Just my american rapper (i.e., "50 cent") to the topic

PS: I just found news are copied (infringing licenses), too. What a strange world we live in...
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Composition and Copyright