Originally posted by Duncan Clarke
Who owns the copyright on a chess game?
Not a trivial question; no simple answer.
See Ed. Winter's article for an overview of some of the issues.
Clearly, any annotations will be copyright the author or the journal in which the annotations appear. But copyrighting just the moves is problematic, if only because a game could be duplicated, either by accident or by design, and no one would accuse the players of plagiarism.
Furthermore, computer-computer games are now quite common, and a computer is not a person in the legal sense. A computer cannot own anything, therefore it cannot own its games either. Probably not even the programmer owns copyright in his program's games, since he cannot have known the program would generate just that sequence of moves.
You might think that IBM owns copyright in whatever games Deep Blue churns out, since there is only iteration of Deep Blue, but ownership of whatever Stockfish or any number of other readily available programs churn out is probably public domain--since the programs are open source.
A related question is: who owns the copyright to computer-generated music? See the following link for some of the issues: