A bit of what you can use...

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A bit of what you can use...

Post by S W Dickson on Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:21 pm

Been doing some research, and am compiling a list of the stuff that has gone before that can be used in new fantasy creations - stuff that doesn't step on IP toes. These fall into two categories - Not Copyrighted, and Not Challenged.

The Not Copyrighted stuff is stuff that is either a historical folk tale or myth, or a written work/art that the copyright period has elapsed and not been renewed. It is important however to state that some retellings (movie, game etc.) are copyrighted, and sourcing your information from the original source is important (such as Beowulf and Jabberwocky). Not Challenged is simply stuff that in its simplest form has not (and therefore any rights have been lost) been challenged in their usage in other works, as opposed to licensing. It often applies to terms that were in such widespread usage throughout many works, that they have no specific indication that they "belong" to any one piece of copyright without using them in the context of the material in question - e.g. "Space Marines" mean nothing until you mention "Quake", "Timesplitters", "Warhammer 40,000", "Starblazers" etc. As these are fairly ambiguous terms that may be called into question, it may be best to rename them with something less obviously close to the bone - e.g. UFSC Marine Corps.

Anyway, here's my current compilation (I've tried to only include those that are in fairly common usage throughout popular fantasy works) -

Not Copyrighted -

Dwarfs/Dwarves, Orcs, Goblins, Ogres, Kobolds, Gremlins, Trolls, Demons/Daemons, Fairies/Faeries, Sprites, Brownies, Hobgoblin, Elves, Light Elves, Dark Elves, Wights, Vanir, Genies/Djinn, Oni, Dragons, Wyvern, Unicorn, Chimera, Jabberwock, Cockatrice, Basilisk, Hydra, Wyrm, Minotaur, Centaur, Satyr, Ghosts, Ghouls, Zombies, Golems, Griffin/Griffon, Kraken, Mermaids, Harpies, Amarok, Asrai, Banshee, Bugbear, Carbuncle, Cat Sidhe, Cerberus, Cyclops, Dragon Turtle, Drow, Dryad, Elemental, Ettin, Faun, Fenris, Garuda, Gnome, Homonculus, Ifrit, Imp, Incubus, Kirin, Lammasu, Leviathan, Naga, Naiad/Nyadd, Nymph, Ourobouros, Pegasus, Pixie, Roc, Shade, Succubus, Sylph, Talos, Typhon, Valkyrie, Vampire, Warg, Werewolf, Wendigo, Will-o-the-Wisp, Wraith, Yeti, Bandersnatch, Stormtroopers, Marines, Morlock

Vorpal Sword, Mjollnir, Gungnir, Aegis, Dyrnwyn, Hrunting, Baeling, Gram/Nothung, Laevateinn, Tyrfing, Excalibur, Clarent, Durendal, Joyeuse, Tarnhelm, Ancile, Grid's Rod, Orichalcum, Adamantite/tine, Alkahest, Zeagonite, Megacity, Real place names, Power Armour, Autocannon, Plasma Gun/Rifle, Railgun, Needle Gun, Necronomicon

Heraldic devices, Flags (not all, obviously not including fictional and trademark copyrighted designs), Alchemical symbols, Alphabets, Religious Iconography, National Emblems,

Not Challenged -

Eldar, Space Marines, Squig,

Mithril, Adamantium, Neutronium, Unobtanium, Carbonite, Plasteel, Duralloy, Ceramite(?), Lasgun,

Military Markings (variable),

Will update as necessary, and add others you think appropriate. It's such fun searching through all the references available to make sure it's all okay Rolling Eyes

As a note, most "named characters" in a specific fantasy/sci-fi background are particular no-nos. Apart from specific named demons/angels/mythical characters that have been re-used in their original role (such as Azazel being summoned in some dark ritual, as opposed to a character named after him), named characters in their own context are subject to copyright. This also applies, variably, to parody namings - Lieutenant USA, being armed with a super shield, would not be okay without him being made "ridiculous" otherwise in his description. Look at how Terry Pratchett writes using other popular references in parody, it's never just a rename, it's a remoulding.

I honestly don't believe that much of this is truly pertinent, as it stands just now anything we release is fairly low key, but if we push this out to a great degree of success, then we don't want key characters/races/items to be liable to action. On the other hand, it may be an underhand tactic at gaining massive exposure if we add something really obvious (boo ha ha).


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S W Dickson

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