Creating Puzzle in Doc & FAQ (Github)

For (potential) puzzle creators I added a page on Github about how to (not surprisingly) create puzzles.

Feedback, questions, etc. are welcome.


Most people don’t make their own puzzles, but they often borrow from somewhere else. In fact, the OGS database is full of such puzzles.
Is there an OGS policy on how to protect copyrights on puzzles that are referenced and published? I am not a lawyer and always wonder how to judge that.
(Not all puzzle creators use OGS, so there is value in referencing and publishing puzzles that have no copyright problem.)

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The way it usually works (on the internet, idk about OGS specifically):

  1. Copyright holder sends a DMCA notice
  2. Website removes content
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Copyright on a puzzle is some deep question, if it exist or not. A stone layout, like a kifu of a game is out of Copyright for example but not commentaries. Should be something personal.

I dunno if there is already some jurisprudence on this.


I searched about this topic and have the following conclusion.

  1. The general view is that since basic life and death are the same as natural laws, copyright does not apply to them.

  2. If a go puzzle writer publishes a new and difficult puzzle they have worked on for months, we need to consider their copyright. These puzzles are usually regarded as creative works because of their original Tesuji.

  3. It is safer to cite the classic Tsumego like 玄玄碁経 when posting difficult Tsumego because they don’t have copyright anymore.

  4. Of course, even if it is basic life and death or classic Tsumego, the explanation of the book is copyrighted, so be careful.

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Nice! I agree on most points.

I think I disagree on this point, or at least I’m curious what you found that led to this conclusion.

To me, this is like Einstein claiming copyright for E=mc2. I’m sure he put months or years of thought into it, but in the end, this is still a discovery not a creative work.

The other thing that I think is worth mentioning is that a collection or compilation or database also fall under copyright laws as long as curation was a creative process. While Tsumego can’t be copyrighted, a particular set of puzzles might be, which would make Cho Chikun’s encyclopedia fall under copyright even though there is no commentary. But IANAL so take this all with a grain of salt.

17 USC § 103(b)

The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work … The copyright in such work is independent of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material.

Edit: also my comments are based on my understanding of United States law. I’d be interested to hear how other countries differ!

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I may have given a little too much thought to the rights of Go puzzle creators.

I came to this conclusion based on an angry blog post by one of the creators (I won’t name names because it is not important to know their personal information). They claim that if they have not published their puzzle in a book, other authors often publish their puzzles as their own (I don’t know if they have bad intentions towards the other authors, as they may have happened to be thinking of the same moves). So they are careful not to publish their puzzles until they have published their book. And after they publish it in a book, they want their book to be attached to the puzzle with a citation. This is the same common sense that scientists should follow. Also, they are not very happy to be quoted in puzzles from a book they have just published, because it affects the sales of the book. This is also the same situation as that of scientists.

I noticed the analogy between puzzle creators and scientists in your reply. Thanks.

I would like to modify my conclusion a little. Puzzles are like natural laws, so they are not copyrighted, but the creators are more financially happy if the creators are honored and new puzzles are read in books.

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