Thursday, April 12, 2007

MonRoi and Copyright

Paul MacIntyre forwarded an e-mail thread to me which included the following post from USCF Executive Board candidate Joe Lux:
Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:27 am
Post subject: Monroi and the US Championship

While "campaigning" in New England this weekend, some interesting developments have occured with serious ramifications for the chess community as a whole.

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

A week ago, Harold Dondis had the same problem at the Boston Globe, where he has written a column for 50 years.

Both papers are own[ed] by the NY Times. I called Dylan McClain this morning. He has discussed th[e] matter already with NYT corporate lawyers, and is trying to reach Bill Hall.

I called Glenn Petersen, who probably has the most practical experience on publishing games and copyright laws in the chess community. He says there had been court cases where unannotated games are free from copyright laws, but that now with the internet, new rulings might be required.

Monroi will be recording all the games from the US Championship. Will they now hold hostage the distribution of these games around the world?

This is the type of issue that USCF must address. How does this effect Chess Life, and every other publication of chess? Is this what we can expect from endorsing the Monroi machine? I hope we don't need to find a chess attorney who can do pro bono work to stop Monroi, but we have to be prepared for that possibility. Maybe Monroi can be encouraged to change its policy before it goes that far.

Does anyone know about other chess journalists that have been effected by Monroi?

Chessically yours, Joe Lux
It seems to me that MonRoi is playing with fire. If they insist on their right to copyright unannotated game scores in contradiction to the long held precedent of free use, will organizers have any other option than to bar the use of MonRoi in their tournaments? Then again, if MonRoi cuts a deal with organizers which benefits them both at the expense of players and chess journalists, what then?

In light of this last question, Harold Dondis' contribution to the thread might be of some concern:
I have been in communication with Chris Bird who handles Monroi in this area. He has provided me with games from the Eastern Class and given me permission to publish games. I give Continental credit for the game score. I am sure Bill Goichberg will accord this privilege to others. HBD
While it is certainly "kind" of the CCA to give their permission, the real question is: why should we need to ask at all?

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