(A few related meta questions)

I know of a couple logic puzzles that I think would make good questions for this site. However, they are not original to me. I got them from this puzzle book. With proper source attribution, can I base challenges on them?

Considerations for:

  • Some of the puzzles in the book are evidently adapted from other sources already. For example, one is a generalized form of Sudoku.
  • I've found several of the puzzle types from the book online already.
  • I am not using any of the exact puzzles from the book (I don't actually have it anymore), just the puzzle rules. Together with the non-commercial nature of the site, I believe such a use falls under Fair Use guidelines.

Considerations against:

  • The book is, of course, copyrighted. Furthermore, using puzzles from a puzzle book seems to me (not that I'm a lawyer) like a larger borrowing than using names of Pokémons, e.g. On the other hand, apparently game mechanics are not copyrightable. Not sure how much that applies to puzzle mechanics.

What say ye?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think a lot of this will depend on how much is changed, to be honest. I realize you're not talking about a copy/paste job here, but there's a whole spectrum. If you show an example of what you want to post, side by side with the original puzzle for comparison, you might get a better answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Jul 31, 2015 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Geobits Hmm. Well, as far as the rules of the puzzle go, it is essentially a copy/paste job--I'd specify them in my own words, of course, but they would be the same rules, with the added sentence "Write a program to solve this puzzle." The main change would be that I wouldn't use any of the (hand-crafted?) specific puzzles from the book as test cases, but would create or generate my own examples. \$\endgroup\$
    – DLosc
    Aug 1, 2015 at 5:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ For an example, take this puzzle (another one found in the book under discussion, BTW). My hypothetical question here would 1) state the rules given in the opening paragraph, though written in my own words; 2) ask for a program/function to solve such a puzzle; 3) specify I/O format, etc.; 4) give a couple of example puzzles and solutions created by me. \$\endgroup\$
    – DLosc
    Aug 1, 2015 at 5:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Beware, however that fixed-output puzzles don't go down well. I learned that the hard way, after taking the puzzle from a maths puzzle book. \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Aug 1, 2015 at 10:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BetaDecay Yeah, I can see why that's the case. None of these puzzles are that way, though. They're more like Sudoku, where different configurations lead to different puzzles. \$\endgroup\$
    – DLosc
    Aug 1, 2015 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DLosc I see. Tbh, I don't think MENSA will bother hunting you down to sue you \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Aug 1, 2015 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


As you said, game mechanics are not copyrightable. So long as you only use the mechanics, and not the exact puzzles, you're in the clear.


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