SOMA Crystal
SOMA News 1 Feb 1999
Amended Feb 2003

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COPYRIGHT's of SOMA
and the figures?


Check the Copyright's here.

OH NO, what people will do for money and glory.
A small number of people are trying to turn our favorite game into an American Copyright case.

Now let's first examine history. Common sense comes later.

  • 1936 SOMA is developed by Piet Hein.
  • 1967 'Skj°de' is producing SOMA cubes
  • 1969 Parker Brothers SOMA manual contain parts by Piet Hein
  • 1970 SOMA Addict has drawings by Piet Hein
  • 1997 (I think) 'Binary Arts' produce 'Block by Block' which is SOMA! Just with a new name.

I am sure we can agree that hand drawings made by individual people, may be considered "A piece of art" and as such undoubtedly have a copyright. But ONLY to the specific work of art, NOT to the figure shapes themselves.

As I see it, the question of copyright comes in two parts.

  1. Is the physical construction of the seven Soma pieces copyrighted.?
    Answer from: "Hugo Piet Hein" <hph@piethein.com>
    Date: 22 May 1999
    SOMA is unfortunately not protected by patent, pattern or trademark, the protection it receives today is through copyright law, which lasts 70 years after the creators death, this is untill the year 2066.

  2. Using the seven SOMA game pieces, figures found by any person will undoubtedly also have been found by other people during the past 63 years. And indeed this is the very purpose of the GAME. The idea that anybody can clame a right to a certain figure is both conceited and wrong. Indeed the very game manuals that came with the Game states:

    (The original Danish manual Page 7:)
      "SOMA is a sculpture you yourself build further"
    (Page 15:)
      "There are hundreds of regular SOMA figures, and yet it is still possible to find new ones"

    (Page 19 contain a reprint from Scientific American where Martin Gardner is quoted:)
    "The number of beautiful figures, that may be built using the 7 SOMA shapes seem to be unlimited, when I wrote my article in the magazine 'Scientific American', I only figured that a few readers would take the trouble of making their own set of SOMA shapes. But I was wrong. Thousands of readers mailed me drawings of new SOMA models, and many ...
    ...
    Teachers produced SOMA-sets for their classes.
    Psycologists started using SOMA at their tests.
    SOMA enthusiasts made SOMA sets to friends in hospitals, and for christmas gifts."

In the SOMA Addict, Parker brothers give a good explanation:

    "How do you invent a new SOMA sculpe anyway? If you do it only by watching what appears while you 'doodle' with your set(s) and recording the 'discoveries' you like, fine."

So even though a lot of the figures CAN be contributed to specific persons, I believe that NO ONE PERSON can hold a copyright to ANY SOMA figure.
SOMA is a puzzle and a passtime, NOT a source for Copyrights and limitations.

The next would be that someone tries to rule that we can't play chess, AND draw a certain board position, simply because someone else made that drawing first.

Reflexions, Feb 2003

It has come to my notion that the above text can be read as a movement against Copyright in general.
This is in No way my intent.
The reason I wrote this text, was that an American person (who shall remain nameless) claimed the right to the basic SOMA shapes. I oppose such attempt to limit the creative mind.
However, it is important to note that the SOMA puzzle itself, still is covered by its rightfull Copyright protection. A protection that in my opinion should be taken serious.
So the opinion expressed above reflect on the figures made by SOMA, not on SOMA itself.

The person reference I give to some of the figures reflect MY sources of the material, and not nescessarily the chronologically correct 'First person who made it'.


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