How many years before a copyright expires?

Just as example, if a game called PacMan was made in 1979 (I'm pretty sure the date is wrong.. it was just as example, you know ;) ), can one make after xx years a commercial game totally inspired to it and call it Pac-Man 2 or even Pac-Man?

Does anybody know for sure how long does xx amount in the USA, Canada, UK, and Germoney. Of course (I should know this stuff myself in first person, but I want to be certain) we've to consider the laws of the country where the game was published.

What if, for example, the original developer continued the saga of a game? For example.. assuming (just as example, again!) that the copyright on Doom has expired. They (id) made Doom II and Doom III.. does this prevent me from "stealing" all of the ideas and design of the original Doom, and make a new game, a kind of remake, calling it Doom?

NOT that I want to do such a lame thing.. I was rather thinking about some very very old coin-ops (well, this info is for a friend really.. but later I may do the same too, I like the idea myself).

Thanks for any suggestion.
Posted on 2003-03-14 03:34:34 by Maverick
I think it is 50 years before something falls under public domain, unless the copyright owners copyright it again (like an Internet domain name, in fact)... but I am not too much sure of that...

To be confirmed.
Posted on 2003-03-14 03:48:17 by JCP
I thought it was 70 years and either way I think it be lengthened at a simple request :/

way too long :|
Posted on 2003-03-14 03:58:43 by Hiroshimator
You are confusing copyrights with trademarks.

Copyrights protect published intellectual property (books, articles, web sites, software, etc.) in whole or in part from unauthorized copying or distribution. They do not offer protections against original derivative works, satire, etc.

Trademarks protect branding / marketing terms and concepts. In the USA, trademarks do not expire as long as the owner is using them in commerce and protecting it. Trademarks protect branding / marketing from competition which infringes on the brand (is similar enough to cause confusion with the original).

I am not a lawyer. You should check with one if you are planning any business / development which you think could reasonably infringe on someones copyrights or trademarks.
Posted on 2003-03-14 21:24:59 by Berninhell
Ir suppose to be and use to be 100 years but for these days i also read it's now 75 years.

Patents are only 7 years and a MILLION $ to be sure that even they repect the laws... Posted on 2003-03-14 23:59:00 by cmax

Terms of Copyright
50 years
New copyright for printed material published in the United States extends for only 50 years after the
(or 50 years after the last) author's death. This is why library listings carry birth and death dates.
The United States adopted this standard (from European law) in 1993. This means that some works
published in 1947 (before 1948) are now public domain.

75 years
Early copyright for printed material published in the United States extends for only 75 years from the
work's first publication or 100 years from the work's creation, whichever is shorter.

* A copyright could be gotten from an author for one twenty-five year period.
* At the end of that time, it relapsed to the author or estate, and it could be renewed for
another twenty-five year period.
* After another relapse, it could be renewed for a third and last twenty-five year period.

This means that some works published in 1947 (before 1948) or 1972 (before 1973) are now public
domain (since they were not renewed).

And Maverick,
you already got an answer here :)
Posted on 2003-03-15 03:20:12 by bazik
And Maverick,
you already got an answer here :)
You watch me :grin:

I've also browsed a lot of similar posts in Usenet, and various FAQs, like these:

But I'm still not sure about two points:

1) Assuming a worst case, i.e. trademark.. I could not use already taken names as PacMan, but I could well use names that are English (or other languages') nouns.. as Frog, Doom, and other games that use English, dictionary words.
What about composite names, as "Donkey Kong"? Both are English words.

2) AFAIK trademarks protect only names, not ideas, right? So, could Atari sue me if I make a PacMan clone perfectly similar to the original PacMan, including all levels layout, but call it with another name (since PacMan is a fantasy name)?
Of course I don't mean to actually steal the binary data.. but make (with my work) something that looks maybe even identical.

Is this possible?
Posted on 2003-03-15 04:19:55 by Maverick
Unless you are doing this for commercial gain you have nothing to worry about.
Posted on 2003-03-15 04:41:07 by iblis

Yes (my friend) is doing it for shareware.
As I said it's not for myself, although I think the idea is interesting (remaking old games).
Posted on 2003-03-15 05:36:01 by Maverick
well don't. Lots f companies think it's interesting and they're all getting sued.

The games aren't public domain, retro games are 'in' again and publisher sue everybody remotely infringing. I think vivendi just recently sued (and won) some firms for this exact thing. (and no it's not a coincidence that Blizzard just released a 'retro' line of games)

Yes it's 'in'. Yes, you'll get sued :/
Posted on 2003-03-15 05:58:25 by Hiroshimator

Thx for the advice.. I'll forward it. :)
Posted on 2003-03-15 08:46:55 by Maverick
I think even pacman is still under copyright :(
Posted on 2003-03-15 09:18:01 by Hiroshimator
Usually you'll get some kind of warning from a company that feels you've infringed on them before any lawsuits start flying. A letter is a lot cheaper for everyone that way and a court will always first ask the company if they warned the infringer first. But you should be careful to begin with, of course. If you're product becomes popular you don't want to have to change brand name recognition.

Things I'm aware of:

One company, called Teknivent, had to change its logo because it closely resembled that of Tektronix.
A florist had to stop using the slogan "This bud's for you."
A gas station chain that sold sandwiches had to stop using a banner that read "SUBs made your WAY" with the lower case letters very small compared to the much larger bright yellow capital letters.
Posted on 2003-03-15 09:26:39 by drhowarddrfine

Hasbro sued a lot of games claiming to have their copyright, all where "retro-remakes"

these things are so old that they should be public domain by now but law dictates otherwise.
Posted on 2003-03-15 09:38:16 by Hiroshimator
Posted on 2003-03-15 16:11:47 by Maverick