Friday, May 31, 2019

Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks for Wizards

"Fuck Elves. Seriously, fuck 'em. Only Elves could ruinously appropriate something so crushingly frustrating, so maniacally evil, so horrendously bureaucratic as copyright law and make it even worse."

- Roger Rockwell, ex-trademark wizard and present underpass hobo.

Copyright magic is the most powerful wizardry there is. I mean, sure, launching Fireballs is cool and useful, but it doesn't nearly approach the invasiveness and hegemony of knowing when and where anybody in the city is saying and/or think of the word "stool".

What is the purpose of wizard copyright law?

Oh, sweet summer child, you think it's to encourage the production of art and culture?

Wrong. It's about SOUL MONEY. We are talking about Wizards, after all. Abandon all faith, ye who enter the realm of wizard law.


Wizard City's chief innovation was the formation of the Spell Patent system - a magnificient Orwellian structure housed within the Bureau of Spatial and Temporal Matters which informs authorities when and roughly where particular registered spells are used.

Supporters of the measure claim that the Spell Patent system encourages innovation by rewarding wizards for their hard work and creativity by giving them temporary exclusive rights to the market.

Detractors claim that this is stupid. Y'all are stupid. Having patents expire in 1000+ years is virtually forever for 99.9999% of the population. Furthermore, spells are just weird brain parasites that chill out in your cranium. You didn't actually invent anything, you merely turned your big dumb head into a zoo for an extradimensional mind moocher. Putting the equivalent of an espresso maker in your brain for ethereal parasites isn't protected under any law, not to mention patent law.  Also, it's freakin' magic. It is literally magic. Why does there need to be encouragement of innovation, you literally get to CHANGE THE RULES OF REALITY. You don't need to judicially reward a person for finding out how to MELT EYEBALLS WITH YOUR MIND. Melting eyeballs is its own reward. You're an idiot. No, you're a cynical idiot. The only function of this is to manipulate the markets so that you can monopolize for blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...


...Anyways! Elf Wizards, may they forever occupy their technocratic thrones, argue that spell formation and the psychosomatic-orthogonal notes that assist wizards in spellcasting are claimable by patent. And the elves have compound interest on their side, so they get to write the rules.

Anybody can claim a Spell Patent with the proper gold, provided the spell is:
  • Novel
  • Useful*
  • Not challenging an active monopoly
  • Not screwing over someone important, particularly an elf
  • Not stolen from right under your nose by the patent clerk
  • Not going to cause the immediate collapse of all civilization
  • Nothing to do with any iteration, mention, or naming of Steeve
*Usefulness debatable. Expect to explain this to the patent clerk.

This is, of course, an expensive process, hence the reliance on Bootleg Spells by the criminal masses. If you manage to score one, though, you can make some serious bank if legitimate bourgeoisie customers take an interest.


...Punishable by atomization, lobotomy, or being thrown into the future.
The following things are eligible for copyright:

Written, Dramatic, Musical, Artistic, Design, Architectural

Additionally, the following things are eligible for copyright, with enough influence:

Academic, Philosophical, Bureaucratic, Judicial, Unoriginal, Temporal, Theological, Moral, Verbal.

Hence, why you're not allowed to say "Birthday", or any iteration of "Birthday" in Wizard City. Unregistered and unauthorized use of the word "Birthday" will result in immediate summary punishment by Copyright Enforcement Agents.

...And maybe you'll get sued, if there's anything left to sue.

There's really only one important rule when it comes to Copyright Law in Wizard City: first come first copyright. If you come to the Devil's Court and you're able to prove to Harmon Devil, the Master of Copyright himself, that your thing is both original and yours, then you can get the exclusive rights to it, no matter how stupid this consequently might be. A case in the Devil's Court always bears a significant risk of flaying and lobotomy, of course, yet it can still be worth it.

Hence, the following occurrences and problems:

- Gordon Wick, in a feat of supreme theology, discovered the True Name of God. Then he copyrighted it. Any time a prayer to God (using its correct name) is uttered, both he and the Devil's Court will know. He charges quite a penny for rights to use prayers that will actually be heard.

- Abrahim Shaw, smug bastard and university administrator, copyrighted his own name. Now nobody can speak it without him knowing. He hasn't told anybody of this.

- Heather Cross, intern at the Bureau of Spatial and Temporal Matters, copyrighted the musical notes H, H#, and I. She successfully proved to the Devil's Court that she invented these notes and that they hadn't existed prior to this event. Everyone suspects spatial magic shenanigans.

- Consequently, the musical notes G, A#, and D were also copyrighted by an elf wizard named Corriander. He claims he invented them, and subsequently proved it in a secret session of the court. Nobody has been able to disprove it since then. Time shenanigans suspected.

- Technically speaking, the only person allowed to express the feeling of acute depression from looking at hamsters is a wizard named Lucy Frond. She's really monopolized that market. It has not made her rich.


This symbol twists the hearts and souls of men...
Why did the Wizard Gangs trademark their gang symbols? You'd think they'd be adverse to the concept of government oversight. And yet, they have all agreed, it's better to have a little bit of regulation rather than returning to the chaotic days of doppelganger gang war anarchy.

Trademark violation is taken quite seriously in the criminal underworld, even moreso than in the legitimate realm. Stealing from a Steeve or a Black Magic Brother or a Nightmare Rider can get your knees confiscated - it's just business, after all - but flashing a gang symbol without trademark authorization? You'll be lucky if there's any part of you left. You may as well have taken a dump on their birth mother for what's about to happen to you.

Wars have been fought. Real, actual urban wizard wars, over Trademarks. The most famous of these, the War of *REDACTED*, was brought to its conclusion, moderated by the state, by all parties forsaking the *REDACTED* Trademark at once and for eternity. The War cost the city approximately 25,000 casualties over four years, the vast majority of them from friendly fire.


- Making or discovering new spells carries risk and opportunity beyond their immediate use.

- Bootleg spells are fun.

- Copyright can pit players against just about anyone for any reason. Need a reason to hate this particular person/organization? They hold a forever-copyright.

- The fact that gangsters are police are violently obsessive about their copyrights/trademarks is immediately exploitative. Reflexively so, even.

- The trading of Patents/Copyrights/Trademarks is also highly exploitative for clever players.

- Copyright authorization documents can be fun loot.

- Copyright piracy, anyone? Yar!


  1. Man I got anxious just reading this. Nicely done!

    1. I'm afraid you're in violation of the Millenium Wizarding Copyright Act. You have not purchased the rights to feel anxiety. Prepare for LESS-CRIMINALLY-INCLINED BRAIN TRANSFER.