Copyright has proved to be an appropriate form of protection for video games. However, the application of copyright law to protect the audiovisual displays and underlying computer programs of video games has become possible only since the revision of the Copyright Act 7 in 1976. Of further significance, has been the development of the law of copyright in the subject areas of computer programs, games, and characters. However, the nature of copyright law is such that the final determination of the protection to be afforded a given game actually rests on policy grounds rather than on an application of black-letter law to facts. The constitutional foundation of copyright law is the attempt to protect certain individual property rights, while also providing an incentive for production of new works. Such a goal is achieved only through a delicate balancing of interests, and the extent of protection is based in each case on that balance of policies. An understanding of the way in which that balance is achieved in copyright for video games can be attained by first examining the constitutional and statutory underpinnings of copyright law, and then reviewing the development of copyright doctrines in the subject areas of computer programs, games, and characters.
Note, Copyright Protection for Video Games: The Courts in the Pac-Man Maze, 32 Clev. St. L. Rev. 531 (1983-1984)