How to provide the source code for Inform 7 games on copyright?

So I finished my game and now I need to copyright it. I looked into it and you need to provide the source code on a pdf. How do I get the source code of my game using inform 7 onto a pdf (in other words do I use the inform 7 code in the editor or do I have to provide the inform 6 code it complies to and if so, where do I find that inform 6 code? and if not those options, what do I send them
) If you anyone has copyrighted there inform 7 game before please help me.

1 Like

Where are you located? If you’re in America, copyright happens automatically, just by virtue of a thing existing.

Software is in a bit of a gray area, as far as intellectual property is concerned, because algorithms can’t be copyrighted (at least in America)—but for IF, the part you probably care about is the writing, and that does fall clearly and unambiguously under copyright.

So I automatically have copyright even If I don’t fill for one? (Yes I live in America) @Draconis

And I just have to say “copyright © 2020 All right reserved”

1 Like

Yes. Everything copyrightable is copyright at the very moment of its creation, automatically, even if you don’t register it with the copyright office, and even if you don’t put a copyright notice on it. This has in fact changed over the last half-century or so a the US comes into line a bit more with how copyrights work in the rest of the world, and you no longer need to worry about accidentally making the kind of mistake that led to Night of the Living Dead being in the public domain.

Though putting a copyright notice on it is a good idea because it gives you some additional protection if you need to enforce the copyright, if I understand correctly, and because, hey, it’s incredibly easy to just stick “copyright 2020 silicon14” somewhere.

I suspect (?) that what you are thinking of is copyright registration, which (as I understand it) is not necessary for enforcement but makes it easier to collect damages in some cases, and helps to make it unambiguous that it was in fact you who created the initial program. The Copyright Office says

You can upload the source code to the electronic registration system, preferably as a PDF file or other file type accepted by the Copyright Office. The list of acceptable file types is available online. Alternatively, you can print out the source code on paper and mail it to the Office. In all cases, add the title and version number of the program to the first page of the code.

In which case, you have at least three or four good options good options for doing so. One is to use the sentence

Release along with the source  text.

in your code, which will result in the source code being released along with everything else when you hit the Release button at the end of your development cycle. It’ll be the file source.txt in your Release folder, which (of course) you need not actually release to the public, if you don’t want to. (Though of course you can, if you want.) “Release along with the source text” is covered in 25.17 of Writing with Inform.

If you don’t want to have to remember to turn it off, then turn it back on, you can just dig the source code out of your project folder; it’s in [project name]/[project name].inform/Source/ on my setup (though that may vary a little across versions and operating systems, I guess).

Or you can just Select All in Inform 7, copy, and paste the code into a new text file, then save it.

Any of those will get you a plain text file, which I guess? the Copyright Office can deal with, but if not, you can use your favorite text-to-PDF converter to produce a PDF out of it.

Alternatively, if you really do just want to generate a one-off PDF, Inform 7 has a Print command in the file menu, and using that to generate a PDF should be easy on Linux or macOS, perhaps a little harder on Windows (though it’s been a long time since I used Windows). But print-to-PDF is a time-honored way to get a PDF version of things. :slight_smile:

Does that help?

And I just have to say “copyright © 2020 All right reserved”

I am not a lawyer, but I think that you need to put in a name as well.I believe that a pseudonym that can be unambiguously tied to you is also fine.

I am not a lawyer.

The real copyright/copyleft issue in IF is that the code and the creative assets (the text whose form the story) are very intertwined. (and I’m not sure about adaptive prose… where coding ends and creative writing starts ?)

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

Copyright applies equally to prose and source code. So a listing of the source code can be copyrighted (and registered) with no problem.

The tricky part is when you want to release your game mechanics under one license but keep your prose under a different license. I have most of my games up under an informal license that says “For educational use only – you can learn from my code but don’t copy my game text.” This isn’t really legally supportable but it’s never been a problem.

If you want to be formal about it, extract your game mechanics, create an extension, and release the extension separately.


By the way, on the Mac, there’s an easy way to create a PDF of your Inform source code. Open the project in I7; select “Print” from the menu; when the print dialog box appears, select “Save as PDF” in the lower-left pop-up menu.

1 Like

You might also like to look into Creative Commons. Creative Commons licenses are free, and allow you to easily set different options, e.g. that you’ll permit hobbyists to use parts of your work, but forbid commercial use. (Of course you can just say “no” to all the sharing options, in which case it’s a standard copyright license.)

Just go to the website, use their chooser and you’ll get a license to use for your piece of work.

And the Creative Commons people are lawyers, so you know the license will afford you real protection if you ever need it, without entangling you in any unanticipated legal thickets.

Incidentally, if you’ve used any extensions in your work, you’ve already used a CC license: extensions are licensed using the “Attribution Only” license.

1 Like

Yea, I was uncertain about the property of citing the “Zarf License”, in the context of this debate for the very reason you noted; It’s my option in IF context (If I even release something non-IF in the wild, I will use the GPL)

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

However, Creative Commons explicitly recommends against using their licenses for software, and suggests looking at licenses listed as “free” or “open source” by the Free Software Foundation or the Open Source Initiative.

Their reasons seem to boil down to “the text of the license is not specific enough about exactly what you mean to do with the ‘code’ part of the work, and so it’s difficult to be sure that re-use is actually licensed in the way that licensors probably intended,” but they have a few exceptions listed in that linked entry to their FAQ.

1 Like

I’ll echo before - any prose that you write is inherently copyrighted. And most players aren’t going to see your source text at all (unless you make it available) without hacking into the gblorb with some kind of utility. I don’t know if reverse-engineering or hacking is covered under the software licenses.

In most cases, Inform authors are pretty open about sharing source text and mining each other’s code for useful bits. I don’t know if a copyright will protect you for something like “this person stole my methods for implementing tables!” - they’d have to literally lift your code verbatim and while the code is copyrightable, everyone uses the same methods in I7 so it might be hard to enforce unless they claimed your actual prose writing as their own.

You probably could generally copyright the prose though. If I wanted to do that, I’d probably create an ideal transcript of what the player sees and copyright that since it’s your writing that’s unique and copyrightable. That’s easy enough to do - play the game and type TRANSCRIPT ON and it will save to a txt file.

If your game is based on another published copyrighted work, it gets more complicated, of course.


In the U.S., everything folks have said above about automatic copyright is correct (as soon as the work is “fixed” in a “tangible media”). Both literary work and source code are creative expressions eligible for copyright.

If you ever choose to sue someone for infringing your copyrights in a work, you’ll have to register your work with the copyright office before the lawsuit can proceed. Since there’s a fee and some work to register, most people don’t bother registering unless and until it heads to court.

If you are concerned that someone may claim the work is theirs, registering with the copyright office can help establish when you finished your work and thus prove your version came first. (People also try things like sending a sealed copy to themselves through the mail so that it gets a dated postmark. I don’t know if that’s ever proved effective and useful in court.)

I registered a work long ago (a screenplay) just for the experience and to convince myself that I was safe sending it out to agents and editors. (That was a naive concern.) It’s just a formality, but if having a registration number from the copyright office makes you feel official, go for it.


Thank you to all you have told me that I already have copyright by default.