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Subject: Copyrights on real people's names who are long gone rss

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Barry Harvey
United Kingdom
London
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Are the names of historical people copyrighted in some way? Can you just use someone's name without any sort of permission?

I was looking at a list of mockbusters (cash-in films) and there was one called "H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds" which came out around the time of the Tom Cruise film that was just called "War of the Worlds". Assuming that H.G. Wells didn't have a will that explicitly banned his name ever being associated with a Tom Cruise movie (something we should all think about), does that mean that names such as H.G. Wells can be used anywhere?

If this is the case then I'd like to call my next game 'William Shakespeare's Dino MacDeathStar', about dinosaur-piloted spaceships with a medieval Scottish theme. And witches. And possibly walking trees.
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Aaron Morgan
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Sacramento
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A person's name can't be copyrighted, but it can be trademarked.
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Derek Sorensen
United Kingdom
Millom
Cumbria
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I think the only IP problem with your game's name might be "Mac" (although as long as the dinosaurs are Scottish you're probably OK).

Dinosaurs are extinct, and The Bard is long dead; even copyrighted works automatically enter the public domain a certain number of years after the author's death - it used to be 50 years, but it's now 75 years (for US authors, anyway) since the 1998 Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

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M. Shanmugasundaram
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Sunnyvale
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George Lucas will probably hunt you down for using Death Star.

And don't forget the "a" in "Mac" or you'll be hounded by McDonald's, in their inexorable march to preface everything with "Mc."
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Stijn Hommes
Netherlands
Dordrecht
Zuid Holland
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EitherOrlok wrote:
A person's name can't be copyrighted, but it can be trademarked.
Unless the person's name is also the name of a business (trademarked), it's not something to worry about. You're supposed to be able to refer to people who carry some sort of historical significance. You can only copyright the specific execution of an idea that's recorded in some sort of digital or physical format.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Kentwood
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If the persosn descendants are still alive and they feel you misused their name then they could try and C&D you. Pretty rare.

If the person is still alive then it is a very iffy thing. There are laws that prohibit certain uses. A person can contest a use. Some celebreties will. Hence why you see name twists so often.

Narth Nader, Fluke Starbucker, Ham Salad, Princess Ann Droid...
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