Legal status of ZZT (and associated games)

I originally tried asking about this via email, and was advised to re-post my request here - I’ve copied the details below:


I’ve seen various claims around the internet that ZZT was released into the public domain some time around 1998; however, I can find no actual evidence to support this.

In addition, there are conflicting opinions as to whether the associated games (TOWN, CITY, etc.) are/are not legally considered to be in the public domain as well.

Could you please clarify for me (A) whether ZZT itself is in the public domain, and (B) the legal status of the associated games?

(The context of this is that I’d like to host the files for download, but am unsure how to describe their legal status in the description text.)

Thanks for your time,


The response (for completeness):

Hello Thomas,

Thanks for contacting Epic Games Player Support.

Thank you for your interest in one of our oldest titles. In order to receive the most accurate response, please post your question in the UE4 AnswerHub’s Legal & Licensing section. Our legal team typically responds to these threads so you will be sure to receive an accurate response. Additionally, having visibility in the AnswerHub will provide clarity on this topic to the entire UE4 community.

Epic owns the IP for ZZT; they are not released to the public domain. As for distribution, could you reach out to legal @ to say more about where and how you want to distribute it?