The issue of copyright

Published: Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 at 10:30 p.m.
The idea of introducing copyright protection for chess games has elicited a variety of reactions, both good and bad, depending mainly on what role the opinion giver played in the world of chess.
Of course, the World Chess Federation (FIDE), which came up with this concept, was most interested in producing a new source of revenue.
For instance, FIDE wanted to charge all the publications that print games from FIDE-organized competitions, such as world championship matches and qualifiers.
These fees would have been split with the two players who played the respective game and therefore "created" the copyrighted work.
So, from the player's perspective I can't complain too much about the idea. Any measure that brings in more money, especiall in chess, is certain to be very welcome not only by me but by players all over the world.
The problem though is that I am also very familiar with the chess business world. And unfortunately, while there are hundreds of chess publications, the reality is that none of them are owned by billion-dollar companies that make and thus can spend a lot of money.
Nor are there too many firms like Nike, Titleist or Reebok in chess that can purchase the advertisements that make most publications profitable.
Most of the chess magazines are published by chess lovers who do make money on them, but very little.
The editors of these magazines and books are used to receiving all the games for free and only have to pay the grandmasters if they "annotate" the game, thus sharing with the world their thoughts.
What impact the introduction of a copyright on games would have on these magazines is hard to judge, but one thing is sure: It would not be a positive one.
Nor would it be easy to enforce such a new rule, since a few publishers already indicated they would rather fight FIDE in court, than face the almost certain bankruptcy such payments would trigger.
My position on this issue is rather undecided. On one hand, I like the idea of making some extra money off each game, but on the other hand, if this will lead to a publication going out of business and a resulting decrease in interest in chess, then it can't be good.
So far, FIDE seems to agree with the latter stance, as it has put this copyright idea on hold. We'll have to wait and see if in a few years this debate will reappear.
You can reach Gabriel Schwartzman via e-mail at gasch@fdt.net, or c/o The Gainesville Sun, P.O. Box 147147, Gainesville 32614-7147.

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