fred, on Dec 17 2009, 11:31 AM, said:
I completely disagree with those who claim that the lack of copyright on certain material is sufficient justification for doing whatever they want with that material.
Just because something is legal, does not mean that it is right.
Consider the case of a newspaper bridge columnist who carefully constructs a beautiful deal for his column. Like bidding systems, bridge deals are also not subject to copyright law, but how would you feel if you were the columnist in question and saw "your hand" appear in other authors' newspaper columns (perhaps with the suits switched around to make it look original)?
It would not matter if you received attribution or not (you can bet you would not in the bridge column case) - this is not about ego.
I think you are using a false analogy. In the newspaper column case:
* the original deal is not a fact (it wasn't dealt in a bridge tournament), it's a literary or artistic work
* presumably it was published by a publishing house that takes the proper steps to protect their copyrights
* even if there is no legal copyright on the hypothetical bridge deal, the second author, who in your example did not contribute anything new, is presumably violating the ethical and journalistic standards of their own publication and would normally be disciplined (more likely, fired) for doing so
Many top players and teachers try to be protective of the bidding systems that they create because they have invested a lot of time and effort in the development of such systems and because they believe that such systems give them a competitive advantage (which in some cases helps to ensure that they are able to make a living). Of course such people recognize that bridge is a game of full disclosure, but that has nothing to do with these people not approving of those who reverse engineer and then publicly distribute their creations without their approval.
This paragraph attemps to draw a parallel between a literary or artistic work (the bridge deal) and an invention (the Meckwell Lite bidding system, let's ignore whether this invention is actually patentable for a moment). However, the legal framework governing these two types of intellectual property are different.
* As a third party, I am not allowed to reproduce the copyrighted work, but I may produce derivative works. An example would be if I took a published
(ignore the fact that this deal is actually a fact, for a moment) that has a cook
and modified it to make it more interesting I would be within my rights to republish.
* As a third party, I am not allowed to use patented work unless I have a license from the owner of the patent. However, I am allowed to make further improvements and patent those improvements myself. Obtaining patent rights requires that the original inventor disclose the new know-how.
My personal take on this is that, if you want to reverse engineer a bidding system and then use it in your own partnerships that is one thing, but to publicly distribute the notes of such a system without first seeking the approval of the original system author is profoundly disrespectful.
IMO what copyright law has to say about this doesn't matter - it is simply wrong.
Bridge Base Inc.
I hope you are asserting that redistributing the original notes is wrong. If so, I agree with you (and redistribution probably runs afoul of copyright too). If, for example, you left your notes under my table at a NABC I would either return them or destroy them. On the other hand, if I played a Spingold match against you and noticed that, say, you had a really good defense to NT that nobody else was playing, I think I'm totally within my rights to figure out the method and republish it. If I reverse engineer Meckwell Precision 2009 and I want to write a book about it, all I have done is do something useful from knowledge that is in the public domain. jjbrr is different -- he accepted notes from a Meckstroth -- and if I were in that position I wouldn't feel free to publicly disclose anything related to R/M precision, and maybe to strong club bidding systems generally. I wouldn't publish even if I felt that there was no legal prohibition on me doing so, generally for the reasons you cite. Regarding the OP (stjk) I don't know where these notes came from, but I assume he is untainted unless someone produces information to the contrary.
Finally, a comment. This is how intellectual property works -- if you want the benefits of public use (such as winning bridge tournaments) or disclosure (any of the bridge articles you've published, which presumably help you get sponsorships, better partners, ..., these are analogous to me giving a talk at a conference), you also accept that you can't always control what happens to your creative work.
"It is not enough to be a good player. You must also play well." -- Tarrasch