Stephen Williams
Canada
Mississauga
Ontario
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I recently went on a tour of Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands, and I found myself struck with inspiration for a board game based on the story of the castle's construction.

This got me to wondering what "the rules" are about using real world events and people as material for a board game? Obviously, there are a million games about Caesar and Cleopatra, or the invasion of any number of historic cities, etc. Are there rules (legal or ethical) on how old a historical figure or event should be before it can start being portrayed in things like board games or movies? Without seeking official permission from anyone, I mean.

I don't think this sort of thing falls under copyright or trademark, but surely people have some sort of rights to the event of their own life, or that of their not-so-distant ancestors?

Please note, this discussion is primarily theoretical. I may never actually sit down to make this game. Even if I do, I will likely be doing so for my own personal use rather than any serious attempt at publication. And even if it does reach the stage of potential publication, I'm sure I could invent a fictional setting and fictional characters that capture the essence of the game without using the historical Boldt family.
 
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Jake Staines
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Stewi wrote:
surely people have some sort of rights to the event of their own life, or that of their not-so-distant ancestors?


I don't believe so... matters of historical record are matters of historical record; if one could copyright them and prevent others from publishing them then people - say - who did horrible and/or embarrassing things could just enforce their copyright over their life story and prevent anyone from telling the world about their horrible and/or embarrassing deeds, for example!

People (particularly famous people) have "image rights" wherein their likeness is protected in a manner similar to a trademark, because using their likeness to sell your product does kind of imply that they produce or endorse your product. You may well find that there are similar protections around names and places - after all, if the Boldt family still exist as a legal entity then people could be forgiven for believing that they endorsed and/or produced a board game about their castle. The architect of the building, should he still be alive, will quite possibly own the copyright on the castle's design. But if you want to make a game about the construction of a castle in the same time period and location, facing the same problems, I doubt there's a thing they could do to stop you.

Of course, it'd still be the polite thing to do to ask!
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Andrew Walters
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Ask a lawyer if it's really an issue, but public figures lose certain rights, and only direct, immediate decedents are likely to have legal rights. I think you have to ask yourself if you're going to harm anyone: will the game cause grief, embarrassment, loss of business, reduced marriage prospects, etc. If it is, do you still need to do it? Maybe you change the names. If it's not harming anyone, you're halfway home.

But if everything involved is a matter of historical record the only thing you might need to worry about are images of the castle.
 
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Campaign Manager 2008 is from 2009. I doubt they got in touch with everyone depicted in the game and secured some kind of permission. I am not a canal dredger.
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Andrew H
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Standard, not a lawyer warning aside, I don't think there would be much to worry about with this. If you use someone else's pictures or cut and paste information from the visitors guide, that would probably be a copyright violation. If you used a bad or disputed historical account, there is a remote possibility the current owner would be concerned about a slanderous effect on business. As far as the history, citing you sources should be more than enough, and much more than a typical historical game.

As a side note, Wikipedia (standard Wikipedia is not always a reliable source warning) says the place is on the national register for historical places, and a novel was already written about it, so odds are a game would be perfectly fine
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Kentwood
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Historical locales may be under this or that government protection such as state ownership or such. So you need to make sure something is not prohibited from unauthorized commercialization.

Using actual photos of people unauthorized is out. That is by law as was discussed a year or two back. Art on the other hand is allowed within limits.

The thing is those limits vary from locale to locale. You need to check local laws and see whats protected or not.

This is why many use a location that is like a real place, but different in some way.

For example the Keep in Keep on the Borderlands is based on an actual structure. But changed in theme and setting as well as other elements.
 
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