Lovecraft in Public Domain?
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  1. #1

    Lovecraft in Public Domain?

    I've been noticing a fair number of Cthulhu themed rpgs being published recently (i.e. Trail Of Cthulhu). Out of curiosity, has Lovecraft's work become 'public domain'?

    -Steve

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Esteban View Post
    I've been noticing a fair number of Cthulhu themed rpgs being published recently (i.e. Trail Of Cthulhu). Out of curiosity, has Lovecraft's work become 'public domain'?
    Big, big legal debate on that:

    H. P. Lovecraft - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  3. #3
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    There are HPL-related trade marks that aren't in the public domain (I believe Call of Cthulu is a registered TM for RPGs). HPL's original works are mostly not in copyright though - either copyright has expired or it never existed in the first place due to lack of registration. It's the same for most of REH's Conan stories.

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    If I recall correctly Pelgrane press sidestepped the copyright issues by getting a permission from Chaosium.

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    I know you can find the stories in the public domain, see blackmask.org
    Last edited by Hand of Evil; Wednesday, 17th September, 2008 at 01:39 PM.

  6. #6
    Anything before 1923 IS public domain, there are no exceptions. His work from 1923 on could possibly be under copyright but most are not since most were not renewed. Trademark never expires but the only Trademark is on the name Calll of Cthuhlu in relation to games (You could republish the story of the same name, or call a vacum cleaner that, or set up restaurant chain called that). If you want to use something from before 1923 you are 100% safe. If you want to use something from 1923 on you are probably safe, but to be 100% safe a check would have to be made on each seperate work. This is why you are now seeing more and more Lovecraft based games and items. Note as well not all Mythos works are safe as there are other autors who wrote Mythos stuff from 1923 on that are definitely still under copyright.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brown Jenkin View Post
    Note as well not all Mythos works are safe as there are other autors who wrote Mythos stuff from 1923 on that are definitely still under copyright.
    Especially everything Derleth.

    Cheers, LT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brown Jenkin View Post
    the only Trademark is on the name Calll of Cthuhlu in relation to games (You could republish the story of the same name, or call a vacum cleaner that, or set up restaurant chain called that).
    Now that is a restaurant I'd rather not visit.

    On second thought... the menu looks rather... compelling....

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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    either copyright has expired or it never existed in the first place due to lack of registration. It's the same for most of REH's Conan stories.

    Careful there. In North America at least, copyright exists as soon as something is put into a fixed form, even if no copyright notification is attached. Registration is required to pursue legal action, but it can take place after infringement.

    Not a lawyer, not legal advice, but this is my understanding on the basis of dealing with copyright issues as a writer/research on the same.


    RC

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    This topic was already covered here on the boards about six weeks ago, when I had the same question. Of course, the best thing to do is talk to a copyright lawyer, since the issue seems fairly nebulous.

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