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Trademark of Landmarks

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Hello,

 

  As title suggests, I am intending to include some landmarks (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty etc) in game both as art and name in fashion of

 

Brandenburg_Gate.png

 

 

So I decided to check about legal issues using these landmarks especially after Ocean Quigley mentioning that they have been asked for serious money to use landmarks at Simcity 4. ( http://strategywiki.org/wiki/SimCity_4/Landmarks )

 

 According to my search, it's obvious that some commercial buildings like Chrysler Building and Empire State Building are definitely "protected" , there is also list of restricted places at shutterstock that may give some idea ( http://www.shutterstock.com/contributor-resources/legal/stock-photo-restrictions/ , photographing community is very into such issues for obvious reasons)

 

  So I checked copyright lengths of countries ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries%27_copyright_lengths ) , Life + 70 years looks like fail-safe.

 

  Also I read that Eiffel Tower isn't copyrighted because already expired but lighting of it was ( http://hoaxes.org/weblog/comments/is_the_eiffel_tower_copyrighted ) which supports my theory

 

 

My questions are,

 

1 -  Based on my search I assume that any landmarks roughly before second half of 19th century is public domain anyway, and for buildings after that era is to be handled per landmark. There are also special cases like Eiffel Tower night lights to be taken into consideration. Is this right approach?

 

2 - Can I use a public domain landmark as stated above, both as 3D model and by name?

 

Thanks in advance,

Edited by Unduli

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Ok, it's official that no one loves me :) (not even "ask your lawyer" response :) )

 

When digging for more (not sure how reputable though but) found When Copyright Permission Is Not Required which states that

 

 

Title 17 U.S.C. § 120 deals with the scope of exclusive rights in architectural works. The law in relevant part, at 17 U.S.C. § 120(a), states as follows:

Pictorial representations permitted. The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

Note that architectural plans, three dimensional models, and other two-dimensional works related to architecture are protected under copyright law as pictorial, graphic or sculptural works, and the statutory provision quoted above does not apply to images other than those of constructed buildings visible from a public place.

 

So, does this contradict with copyright mechanism or does it mean you can use 3D model freely but not name itself?

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There are many protections other than copyright.

 

Copyright and trademark are different legal protections.

 

Copyright covers the specific recordings, the specific implementation details, the specific data. The protections usually cover distribution or performance.  Copyright expires over time.

 

Trademark covers marks, words, phrases, symbols, designs, and any other distinguishing element. Skylines, building profiles, other distinctive elements of buildings can be trademarked. They can be renewed indefinitely as long as the thing is in use.

 

Other laws and government requirements, such as Time/Place/Manner restrictions, can come into play. Still other protections may apply depending on the use and context. 

 

Game art is commercial in nature (games are commercial products) and that has many restrictions.  Many buildings and creations have strong legal restrictions against commercial use without permission.

 

 

 

Just because you are not violating copyright does not mean you are not violating any other laws or regulations.

 

 

 

Any time you use a distinctive object in a game that you didn't imagine yourself -- a car design, a weapon design, a building design -- you should discuss the risks with your business lawyer. 

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It's fair enough to stay on safe side but costly in case of each time.

 

So coming back to first assumption, seems I will assume that buildings up to 19th century are public domain so safe in general rule.

 

I can live with excluding modern buildings at this time.

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It's fair enough to stay on safe side but costly in case of each time.


Sure. So make one list, then get it checked over. In addition to lawyers, another resource is the people who do rights clearances for movies and TV. Back in 1994, I had one of those on my project.

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