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Subject: Old IP... Can it be used rss

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Shane Conaty
Ireland
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Hi all,
I'm trying to make a game, (aren't we all), and I wanted to base it on an old rpg I made, a wod mod, however... In that game I had figures from history and literary characters in the game, no problem for a home brew tabletop rpg, but when it comes to transferring that to a board game... Does anyone know where I'd stand with old characters?
I'm thinking of frankenstein, the island of Dr. Mareau, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, that sort of thing. It seems Warner brothers hold the screen rights to frankenstein etc... But who owns the board game rights? And is it worth my time chasing down this rabithole.

Many thanks all, just checking stuff out


Shane
 
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Rob Harper
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I am not a lawyer.

There's a lot of material, like those you mention, that are in the public domain, which means that you can pretty much do what you want with the source material. Basically, if a book is on Project Gutenberg, it's almost certainly up for grabs; fill your boots.

HOWEVER, be very careful of material that has been added later. If you use anything from movies or TV you will probably end up using "live" IP, and translations may be an issue, along with illustrations, etc. Also, some people or organisations may have trademarked terms that would otherwise be available, so watch out for that.

Take the Cthulhu mythos as an example; the writings of HPL are in the public domain (as I understand it), but the mythos has been extended by other writers, whose works are not in the public domain, so you need to be careful of what you take from there. In addition, the name "Call of Cthulhu", while it is the title of an HPL story, it has been trademarked and cannot be used in the realm of games without risking a legal challenge from the mark holder.

Good luck!
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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ShaneConaty wrote:
I'm thinking of frankenstein, the island of Dr. Mareau, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, that sort of thing. It seems Warner brothers hold the screen rights to frankenstein etc... But who owns the board game rights? And is it worth my time chasing down this rabithole.

This article about Frankenstein and copyright is instructive as to the difference between the story and popular implementations: https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2011/10/24/how-universal-re-...

All of the characters that you mentioned are alive and well in modern fiction that reimagines them, such as Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Theodora Goss' The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club (which have great audiobooks).

Watch out for companies that are trying to hold onto the rights of dead authors; this happened with the Cthulhu Mythos and will go in perpetuity with Peter Pan in some formats: https://www.gosh.org/about-us/peter-pan/faqs

It seems like it is pretty easy to find rights information for any character with a quick Internet search.
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Shane Conaty
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That's amazing,
Thanks all, this was just a punt and I didn't expect a lot, thanks a mill.
I did an Internet search for igor, frankenstein, meauro etc, but came up blank, but I'll follow up with those links.

Again

Thanks a mill

Thanks great

Shane
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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ShaneConaty wrote:
I did an Internet search for igor, frankenstein, meauro etc, but came up blank, but I'll follow up with those links.
Your search should be something like

"character name" rights

If your spelling is correct and there are interesting rights issues then you will likely find out about them from this search.

I assume that this material is something that you enjoy. Part of the creative process is reread the original works and make your own take on them. (E.g. Theodora Goss brings together the female children of the famous characters (and some of their original ones), revealing the 'true details' of the famous stories that explain the existence of her characters.)

It is easy to end up similar to existing takes on public domain characters. Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls has the same characters as Andy Weir's Cheshire Crossing. Completely different takes, but I started off thinking that Weir was accidentally plagiarizing (I was happy to find out otherwise; also he's a cool guy to meet in person).
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Shane Conaty
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Yeah,
Looks like I'm in the clear for the characters, all bar igor who was a stock hammer horror lab assistant.
Thanks again. I'll keep trawling but looks like I'm good.
Will of course get legal eagles to double check, but I can charge ahead now

Shane
 
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Scott
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ShaneConaty wrote:
Looks like I'm in the clear for the characters, all bar igor who was a stock hammer horror lab assistant.

Igor ath a lab athithtant hath appeared in dozenth of workth of fiction in multiple media formatth that predate and pothtdate Hammer.
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Al Walker
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blaecblaed wrote:
ShaneConaty wrote:
Looks like I'm in the clear for the characters, all bar igor who was a stock hammer horror lab assistant.

Igor ath a lab athithtant hath appeared in dozenth of workth of fiction in multiple media formatth that predate and pothtdate Hammer.

And hath theemingly found the time to thitch back together memberth of the Ankk-Morpork Thity Watthh
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Derek H
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Alixian wrote:
blaecblaed wrote:
ShaneConaty wrote:
Looks like I'm in the clear for the characters, all bar igor who was a stock hammer horror lab assistant.

Igor ath a lab athithtant hath appeared in dozenth of workth of fiction in multiple media formatth that predate and pothtdate Hammer.

And hath theemingly found the time to thitch back together memberth of the Ankk-Morpork Thity Watthh
Should you have an Igor in your game?
Quote:
“I'm an Igor, thur. We don't athk quethtionth."
"Really? Why not?"
"I don't know, thur. I didn't athk.”
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Michael R.
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ShaneConaty wrote:
Dr. Mareau

ShaneConaty wrote:
meauro

I do this not to be a pedantic jerk, but because you may not get all of the results you need if you spell the character's name wrong. It's spelled "Moreau." I just tried googling "Dr. Meauro" and got a series of recommendations for local doctors.
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Shane Conaty
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My spelling ain't the best but found a site that said I was clear to use works printed before 1880, (or something like that) so should be fine. I have an igor, sometimes spelt ygor, but... I'm unsure about that and so think it's best to steer clear
 
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