It is not possible to copyright a game in its entirety. However, the creator of a board, computer, or video game can copyright individual portions of a game. To do this in the United States, the creator must contact the copyright office at the Library of Congress. The creator must send an application form, a filing fee, and a copy or representation of the game.
If a creator chooses to copyright a game, he or she can copyright only those parts of the game that are judged to be a form of artistic expression. That means an animator can copyright the artwork, or a composer can copyright the music, but only those portions of the game are protected under copyright. Text describing the story or rules of the game may also be protected under copyright. The actual code written for a computer may be covered under copyright. The idea for and the title of the game are not protected by copyright, and systems, devices, and method of play are not protected by copyright.
A creator can choose one of two methods to copyright a game. If the game includes written material like game directions or storyline elements, the creator should copyright the game as a literary work. When a game is granted copyright protection as a literary work, the art in the game can also be covered under the same copyright. On the other hand, if a creator wants to copyright a game that contains mostly visual elements, he or she should copyright it as a work of visual art.
To copyright a game, a creator can either visit the website of or write to the copyright office at the Library of Congress or the equivalent office in the country in which the game was created. The creator must fill out a copyright respiration form. He or she must also include a filing fee and a deposit. The deposit is a copy of the game or material that will identify the game in case of copyright litigation; details vary depending on the size and type of game.
Once all the required material has been submitted, the copyright office will send a certificate of copyright. The creator may publish, sell, and disseminate the game before he or she receives the certificate of copyright. In order to begin legal proceedings in the case of copyright infringement, the creator must have a certificate of copyright.