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David Fisher
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In this post, it was pointed out that:

damiangerous wrote:
For anything created since 1978, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. No registration or renewal is ever necessary. For works prior to 1978 copyright lasts for 28 years plus a 67 year extension.

2012 - (28 + 67) = 1917, so I was thinking about works which were copyrighted around that time that would be interesting to use in a game, now that the copyright has expired -- unless I've misunderstood?

For example:

Wikipedia: 1917 novels

... which includes the first Barsoom novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars. So how much of that novel is available for re-use? What about infringing on the content of subsequent novels (and the recent movie) from the same universe?

How does the use of material with expired copyright actually work?
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davidf wrote:
In this post, it was pointed out that:

damiangerous wrote:
For anything created since 1978, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. No registration or renewal is ever necessary. For works prior to 1978 copyright lasts for 28 years plus a 67 year extension.

2012 - (28 + 67) = 1917, so I was thinking about works which were copyrighted around that time that would be interesting to use in a game, now that the copyright has expired -- unless I've misunderstood?

For example:

Wikipedia: 1917 novels

... which includes the first Barsoom novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars. So how much of that novel is available for re-use? What about infringing on the content of subsequent novels (and the recent movie) from the same universe?

How does the use of material with expired copyright actually work?


Actually the quoted post was incorrect.

See http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm for the gory details of the USA situation. In the case of Burroughs it is a further complication because he incorporated himself and the copyrights of some of his books (but not the early ones like A Princess Of Mars) are held by the company.

Of course in the UK things are different again, and so too I believe Australia. In the UK all Burroughs is in copyright until 2020. In Australia all Burroughs is out of copyright (you lot were life+50 until recently).

If a book is out of copyright you can scan it, reprint your own copies, translate it, and distribute it in the territory where it is out of copyright. You could even keep most of the text the same and rewrite the odd paragraph just as some people turn classics (such as Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice) into porn.

Copyright protects the expression of the ideas. So if you want to publish a Barsoom game (and assuming that Burroughs is out of copyright) you would be able to use quotes from the books as 'flavour text' on cards etc. You would not be able to use images or dialogue from the recent film (or the other films).

Also the film studio (or in this case Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc) may have registered trade marks wrt games and toys which may also make things a little more tricky (even though case law seems to point to those trademarks being invalid in the USA).
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Andrew Rowse
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Please make a Princess of Mars game immediately!
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meepleonboard
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Quote:
If a book is out of copyright you can scan it, reprint your own copies, translate it, and distribute it in the territory where it is out of copyright. You could even keep most of the text the same and rewrite the odd paragraph just as some people turn classics (such as Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice) into porn.


In the UK at least there is a difference between the author's copyright and the copyright in an edition of that author's works. Copyright in the work itself lapses at the end of the year 70 years after the author's death (not, please note, 70 years after the creation of the work), meaning that the works of artists who died in or before 1941 are currently out of copyright, 1942 and after after still in.

However, although the work itself may become public domain, the edition might not be, so it's not the case that you can simply scan another person's edition of a public domain work and do whatever you like with it. You may, however, use it as the basis for your own edition (in which you would then own the copyright). Thus there is a copyright in the edition which is separate from the copyright in the work. A few years ago a recording company in the UK was very nearly bankrupted after losing a case over royalties due for an edition of public domain music.

Of course, you could always apply to the author's estate for permission to use their work or ideas if it's still in copyright. In my own line of work I have had flat-out refusals (rarely), but more often had permission granted very graciously.

The caveat, of course, is that copyright varies from country to country (and even here in the UK it was recently extended from life+50 to life+70), and, now that the rockers of the 60s are getting on a bit, there are moves afoot to extend copyright in sound recordings too, but that's another story...
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Robert Taylor-Smith
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KAndrw wrote:
Please make a Princess of Mars game immediately!


John Carter: Warlord of Mars
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John "Omega" Williams
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And my Barsoom Canals retheme of Bindle Rails

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/400502/barsoom-canals

and the files.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/41895/barsoom-canals-b...
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John "Omega" Williams
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davidf wrote:


... which includes the first Barsoom novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars. So how much of that novel is available for re-use? What about infringing on the content of subsequent novels (and the recent movie) from the same universe?

How does the use of material with expired copyright actually work?


As long as you arent trying to actually sell a game based on some IP, it will in general get by. Keep in mind that expired copyright doesnt allways mean a book is fair game.

And then theres the fan base. If your adaption isnt up to standards of the fans then you are very likely DOA right out the gate.
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nickster1970 wrote:
Quote:
If a book is out of copyright you can scan it, reprint your own copies, translate it, and distribute it in the territory where it is out of copyright. You could even keep most of the text the same and rewrite the odd paragraph just as some people turn classics (such as Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice) into porn.


In the UK at least there is a difference between the author's copyright and the copyright in an edition of that author's works. Copyright in the work itself lapses at the end of the year 70 years after the author's death (not, please note, 70 years after the creation of the work), meaning that the works of artists who died in or before 1941 are currently out of copyright, 1942 and after after still in.

However, although the work itself may become public domain, the edition might not be, so it's not the case that you can simply scan another person's edition of a public domain work and do whatever you like with it. You may, however, use it as the basis for your own edition (in which you would then own the copyright). Thus there is a copyright in the edition which is separate from the copyright in the work.


Generally that is true. However edition copyright (based on typographical arrangement) only lasts 25 years - http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy/c-duration/c-published.htm so you don't have to hunt out a first edition.

Of course if there is extra or altered material then it is a larger issue and it is sometimes almost impossible to tell if that is the case.
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Matthew Kloth
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I've actually put quite a bit of research into this since I'm strongly in favor of copyleft.

I plan to make many games based on public domain works. In my search for interesting public domain works to make a game about I ran into lots of complexities. I'll limit this post to just John Carter and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The first few Barsoom books are public domain in the United States because they where published before 1923. These books are not in the public domain in the United Kingdom because they where registered there separate.

In theory you should be able to publish the first few Barsoom books in the US, and even make adaptations. The problem is that you will likely be sued by Edgard Rice Burroughs Inc. They own all the copyrights for the later books, but also have trademarks on:
JOHN CARTER
GODS OF MARS
WARLORD OF MARS
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS
TARZAN AND JANE
BARSOOM
LORD OF THE JUNGLE
TARZAN
DEJAH THORIS
JCM
PRINCESS OF MARS
A TASTE OF STRENGTH
TARS TARKAS
TARZAN'S TREEHOUSE
TARZAN'S
And also the vocal tarzan yell

Some of these trademarks may not be valid because they have only recently been filed. The reason they've filed many of these trademarks is because they are suing Dynamite Entertainment. Dynamite Entertainment is a comic book publisher who often uses public domain characters. They publish both Barsoom and Tarzan based comics. They are careful not to use the name Tarzan, John Carter, or Barsoom. You can read about the lawsuit here.

The name of their tarzan comic is Lord of the Jungle, and their Barsoom comic is Warlord of Mars. They've been publishing these comics for a few years now. Edgard Rice Burroughs Inc has in the last year filed for trademarks on those exact phrases.

What I see happening is a company trolling in order to extort money on works that should be freely available to everyone.
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I thought that I heard that Call of Cthulhu and H.P. Lovecraft's other works are public domain, yet he died in 1937. How does that work?

I am also curious what some of the other novels the OP found that are public domain.
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MusedFable wrote:
What I see happening is a company trolling in order to extort money on works that should be freely available to everyone.

Yuuuuup.
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Drew Dallas
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Don't expect anything to ever go out of copyright anymore in the US. Disney can't let that happen.
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colmustard21 wrote:
I thought that I heard that Call of Cthulhu and H.P. Lovecraft's other works are public domain, yet he died in 1937. How does that work?

I am also curious what some of the other novels the OP found that are public domain.


In the UK/Europe/Australia/Canada it is out of copyright because we operate on a life+XX and always have done. 1937 + 70 (the UK applied the rules retrospectively) == 2007.

In the USA it is a little complicated.

The early stories prior to 1923 and the work that only appeared in small press are public domain.

As Weird Tales retained the copyrights to 6 stories which were transferred to August Derleth. The others went down through Lovecraft's family and seem to have been transferred to Arkham House. Some claim that Derleth/Arkham House renewed the copyrights correctly, however ST Joshi found no evidence of that when he researched the matter.

Lovecraft's stories have been available on the net for years so it seems that Arkham House do not have the money or do not wish to push the matter or think the judgement will go against them.

There are tons of pages on the US situation. See http://www.aetherial.net/lovecraft/index.html

If you just want to use the mythos (monsters, books, etc) in your own stories without reproducing Lovecraft's work then go ahead there is 90ish years of people doing exactly that. However note that not all of the mythos is Lovecraft, other authors have contributed greatly including quite recently. For example Cthonians were a Brian Lumley monster.

But as with Burroughs trademarks may also be a problem in some territories.
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Matthew Kloth
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H.P. Lovercraft is another case of trademark trolling. This time by Arkham House. Arkham House also tries to exert control over Clark Ashton Smith's works that are in the public domain.

Another is Robert E Howard, escpecially with Conan. The company trolling Conan even tries to claim trademark on the look of Conan by saying that the stereotypical Frazetta style conan is trademarked by them. They even sued He-man when it originally came out (He-man won that suit).

Zorro is also trolled with trademarks. The original Zorro story (the one everyone knows the plot to) is public domain. The public domain movie The Mark of Zorro introduces his zorro look with the mask and sash. A company claims the trademark to that look. They sue anything that comes close. They even sued M&M candies when they had a parody commercial with one of the M&Ms with a mask, cape, and sword.

Peter Rabbit also has a trademark troll who sues people for even using the public domain images claiming the images are too similar to his trademarked logo (which is one of the public domain images that is just registered as his logo).

Peter Pan has copyright complications because it has a special exception in the UK because the work was donated to a children's hospital. Not as a normal copyright contract but as an act of parliament. Peter Pan could in theory be in perpetual copyright.

If by some miracle copyright isn't renewed again I can see Disney pulling this trademark trolling. If you search the Trademark database you can see Disney trademarking a whole hell of a lot more than they where just 5 years ago. The world of IP squatting seems to all be aware of how powerful trademarks have become.

None of this has been properly challenged in court. If I had money I'd start challenging this stuff right away.
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David Fisher
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colmustard21 wrote:
I am also curious what some of the other novels the OP found that are public domain.

Nothing in particular for 2012, but if you are interested in the public domain generally, there is a list here:

http://www.feedbooks.com/publicdomain

But as people have pointed out, you still have to be careful (the above web site includes Princess of Mars, which was discussed earlier in the thread).
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MusedFable wrote:

Peter Pan has copyright complications because it has a special exception in the UK because the work was donated to a children's hospital. Not as a normal copyright contract but as an act of parliament. Peter Pan could in theory be in perpetual copyright.


Not quite right.

Peter Pan is in a privileged situation. It does not a perpetual copyright however Great Ormond Street Hospital does have a right to royalty (in the UK) in perpetuity. This applies purely to Peter Pan. It does not cover the later authorised sequel (although that is still in copyright) or The Little White Bird (the first appearance of Peter Pan). GOSH also has trademarks on Peter Pan.
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davidf wrote:
... which includes the first Barsoom novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars. So how much of that novel is available for re-use? What about infringing on the content of subsequent novels (and the recent movie) from the same universe?


Four Barsoom novels are on gutenberg.org, indicating that they're in the public domain in the United States.

The whole series is on gutenberg.net.au (Australian copyright is based on the date of death of the author).

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flapjackmachine wrote:
KAndrw wrote:
Please make a Princess of Mars game immediately!


John Carter: Warlord of Mars


Warriors of Mars (although TSR quickly withdrew this wargame after ERB's estate threatened to sue them).
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MusedFable wrote:
H.P. Lovercraft is another case of trademark trolling. This time by Arkham House. Arkham House also tries to exert control over Clark Ashton Smith's works that are in the public domain.

Another is Robert E Howard, escpecially with Conan. The company trolling Conan even tries to claim trademark on the look of Conan by saying that the stereotypical Frazetta style conan is trademarked by them. They even sued He-man when it originally came out (He-man won that suit).

Zorro is also trolled with trademarks. The original Zorro story (the one everyone knows the plot to) is public domain. The public domain movie The Mark of Zorro introduces his zorro look with the mask and sash. A company claims the trademark to that look. They sue anything that comes close. They even sued M&M candies when they had a parody commercial with one of the M&Ms with a mask, cape, and sword.

Peter Rabbit also has a trademark troll who sues people for even using the public domain images claiming the images are too similar to his trademarked logo (which is one of the public domain images that is just registered as his logo).

Peter Pan has copyright complications because it has a special exception in the UK because the work was donated to a children's hospital. Not as a normal copyright contract but as an act of parliament. Peter Pan could in theory be in perpetual copyright.


I've been toying with a game idea which would have Cthulhu, Conan, Zorro, Peter Rabbit, and Tinkerbell as playable characters. So I guess I'm in for a whole lot of trouble

EDIT: And Dejah Thoris actually.
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apeloverage wrote:
MusedFable wrote:
H.P. Lovercraft is another case of trademark trolling. This time by Arkham House. Arkham House also tries to exert control over Clark Ashton Smith's works that are in the public domain.

Another is Robert E Howard, escpecially with Conan. The company trolling Conan even tries to claim trademark on the look of Conan by saying that the stereotypical Frazetta style conan is trademarked by them. They even sued He-man when it originally came out (He-man won that suit).

Zorro is also trolled with trademarks. The original Zorro story (the one everyone knows the plot to) is public domain. The public domain movie The Mark of Zorro introduces his zorro look with the mask and sash. A company claims the trademark to that look. They sue anything that comes close. They even sued M&M candies when they had a parody commercial with one of the M&Ms with a mask, cape, and sword.

Peter Rabbit also has a trademark troll who sues people for even using the public domain images claiming the images are too similar to his trademarked logo (which is one of the public domain images that is just registered as his logo).

Peter Pan has copyright complications because it has a special exception in the UK because the work was donated to a children's hospital. Not as a normal copyright contract but as an act of parliament. Peter Pan could in theory be in perpetual copyright.


I've been toying with a game idea which would have Cthulhu, Conan, Zorro, Peter Rabbit, and Tinkerbell as playable characters. So I guess I'm in for a whole lot of trouble :D


That sounds so awesome it would be worth the legal fees.
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One of my longterm goals is to challenge this squatting on public domain figures. I'll need a sizable amount of money and/or a network of helpful people. Paying attorney's fees for a trademark case costs between $150k and $750k. Maybe with enough networking I can convince some free-culture attorneys to take up the case of trademark trolling on public domain characters. If I had the money I'd throw a quarter of a million dollars at it. Maybe I'll get there if my company grows large enough. I'd definitely create a separate legal entity to take up the challange. I'd start a "Free our favorite pulp characters from trademark trolls" kickstarter if I thought it could get the million dollars it needs.
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BlackSpy wrote:
apeloverage wrote:
MusedFable wrote:
H.P. Lovercraft is another case of trademark trolling. This time by Arkham House. Arkham House also tries to exert control over Clark Ashton Smith's works that are in the public domain.

Another is Robert E Howard, escpecially with Conan. The company trolling Conan even tries to claim trademark on the look of Conan by saying that the stereotypical Frazetta style conan is trademarked by them. They even sued He-man when it originally came out (He-man won that suit).

Zorro is also trolled with trademarks. The original Zorro story (the one everyone knows the plot to) is public domain. The public domain movie The Mark of Zorro introduces his zorro look with the mask and sash. A company claims the trademark to that look. They sue anything that comes close. They even sued M&M candies when they had a parody commercial with one of the M&Ms with a mask, cape, and sword.

Peter Rabbit also has a trademark troll who sues people for even using the public domain images claiming the images are too similar to his trademarked logo (which is one of the public domain images that is just registered as his logo).

Peter Pan has copyright complications because it has a special exception in the UK because the work was donated to a children's hospital. Not as a normal copyright contract but as an act of parliament. Peter Pan could in theory be in perpetual copyright.


I've been toying with a game idea which would have Cthulhu, Conan, Zorro, Peter Rabbit, and Tinkerbell as playable characters. So I guess I'm in for a whole lot of trouble


That sounds so awesome it would be worth the legal fees.



The concept is similar to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: fictional characters from different authors 'really' live in the same world.

The idea was that, for example, Merlin has more flavour than a newly-created wizard character who's going to be largely based on Merlin anyway.

I was also toying with the idea of calling it Defenders of the Domain and having it as a sort of allegory of copyright laws, but that might be a bit gimmicky.
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Been done... ALOT.

Riverworld for example has various historical figures interaction on an alien world.

Skeletons has the same effect except that its the animate skeletons of dead historical figures facing off.

Defenders of the Earth had pulp heros banding together.

Who Framed Rodger Rabbit had cartoon figures interacting...

Super Robot Wars has various mecha series.

Amalgam literally combined DC and Marvel. And the two have done various crossover team ups.

Atomic Robo does this too, though usually individuals.

Oz vs Wonderland.

Watchmen is a joining of renamed Charelton Comic characters.

Sherlock Holmes vs Arsene Lupin

Robocop vs Terminator

Batman vs Predator

Theres quite a few others.
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