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Atari Games Corp v. Oman, 979 F.2d 242 (1992) p141


Copyrightable material - video games


Copyright applicant brought action challenging decision of Register of Copyrights not to grant copyright on video game.


On cross motions for summary judgment, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, John H. Pratt, J., 693 F.Supp. 1204, granted Register's motion and denied applicant's motion. Applicant appealed. The Court of Appeals, 888 F.2d 878, reversed and remanded. On remand, the Register again refused registration. The District Court again granted summary judgment to Register. Applicant appealed.


Is there enough originality in a video game that allows it to be copyrightable?


Denial of copyright registration for video game was unreasonable in light of modest degree of creativity standard applicable in making determination; video game would be copyrightable, even though individual graphic elements of each screen were not, if requisite level of creativity was satisfied either by game's individual screens or by relationship of each screen to others or accompanying sound effects.


The Court of Appeals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Circuit Judge, held that Register's refusal to copyright video game was unreasonable when measured against applicable modest degree of creativity standard. Reversed and remanded with instructions.


There is enough originality in this game to make it copyrightable.