Goury: If I draw an original sprite, it's my creation and it's my right to protect it from theft/abusive use by someone else if I want to.
Paying a copyright to protect a work I did gives me "legal ownership" to it, makes it my "intellectual property".
Even on a philosophical point would you deny me this right ?
I agree that patents are not copyrights and copyrights are not patent.
The famous Notch posted an interesting blog article on the subject today as a matter of fact.
I used to make music and wanted to be a professional at it.
I recorded some songs with my bands and protected those songs by paying/depositing those songs to define my copyright.
That would allow me/us to not get our songs ripped while we were sending the CDs to labels.
Copyright in that case would prevent a label to steal our songs and make sure we would get a deal if they were interested by those.
The copyright in that case really protects the original creator from having his creation took away from him, modified/reused out of his grasp. edit: I should probably rather say without a legal leverage. Owning a copyrights don't prevent the possibility of theft, but it's there to be able to pledge in court that "I did that first and the work was taken out of me without my consent".
Also I read through this topic some, apparently, confusion about big companies acting on "fan games" or derived works from their IPs (characters, stories, musics, game).
I don't know if you may have heard/remember about a legal issue that occured between Mojang (Notch's studio) and Bethesda software last year.
Mojang went to apply for a copyright for the name of their new game: "Scrolls".
Bethesda Software went into some legal turmoil with Mojang because of their own copyright ownership of "The Elder Scroll", pledging that "Scrolls" might get confused with "The Elder Scroll" and lead to loss of sales or other issues.
As explained pretty well in that blog article, it was Bethesda's duty to react to protect their copyright.
One might argue that it wasn't a smart move, since they "lost" their case, but Mojang also didn't got to copyright "Scrolls" as it was considered a generic word and shouldn't be copyrighted anyway.
Yet, they can't be blamed for this action either.
One can argue that it's a corporation and that the copyright doesn't protect the "creators" (the devs and artists who actually made the game) but rather protects financial interests.
Once again, the point of the topic is about the legal question, how it works in the real life.
As Stercus said, a court is a "game" set by constrictive rules that one must deal/play with if involved in a legal action.
You can't just dismiss them as being "philosophically unfair/irrelevant".
And to finish on Nintendo's case, they don't really bother with suing fan games. But also, most of their characters (mario, Link, etc...) are video games icons. They know it and understood it.
Mario kind of belongs to the gamers. And anyway, when you think Mario, you think Nintendo's Mario, the character is associated with the brand.
So in their case, their copyright is not threatened by a fan game.
Nevertheless go on and make a GTA Mario where he pays to have sex with Goombas and piss on flowers, all that with sprites displaying a penis, I bet that you will soon hear from them and be asked to remove the game from distribution right away.
Also about the TL;DR, when one takes the time to make an elaborate answer, the least politeness is to read it as a whole, especially on such subjective/debatable subjects.
If you don't have the time to read it right away, save it for later and answer only after having read the post.
It helps keeping the discussions relevant and not a simple battle of opinions.