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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Fair use, or abuse?

   
Author Topic: Fair use, or abuse?
Zero
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Is it kosher to involve locations and characters from ancient legends, like robin hood, arthur and camelot, stuff like that?

Or does someone, somehow, own rights to that material?


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Christine
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If there is no current copyright, then you can use them. No one holds a copyright for any of the ones you mentioned. I don't see how someone could own a cpoyright for a truly ancient myth or legend. Indeed, these things are often incorporated or even retold in full in modern stories.

It's the more recent stuff you have to worry about. Due to some messed up copyright laws, even things from the 19th century are still copyrighted. The Birthday Song, foe example. You can blame Disney, but I digress..


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Rommel Fenrir Wolf II
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Which Birthday song? Happy Birthday, or the Birthday Song by the Beatles? Only the one by the Beatles is copyrighted.

My thought is, who would want to put a copyright on such an old story anyway?

Now the Robin Hood movies yes there are going to be copyrights.

But if you wrote a story about Robin Hood with King Arthur, Merlin, Camelot etc, then you can put a copyright on it for you wrote a completely new story that is different than traditional stories with characters from others that do not have copyrights on them.

Now for example you wrote a story and used Ender from Enders Game, Nafai from The Memory of Earth, you will run into problems there for they are copyrighted names and characters.

Maybe in 300 to 400 years few people will remember those books and names then you might be fine. But most likely none of you will be around then. I will though. (lucky me)

RFW2nd


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Christine
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http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/birthday.asp
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Robert Nowall
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Last I heard, "Happy Birthday to You" was still under copyright---that's why so many TV shows come up with some other song in its place when staging a birthday.

Disney has been tenacious in holding on to its copyrights---they're the ones behind the "life plus seventy years" bit---which benefits a number of other writers. Beware further changes in the law before you actually use a Disney whatsit.


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steffenwolf
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Also, if you've ever told a restaurant (Applebee's or wherever) that it's your birthday to get free cake, they never sing the Happy Birthday song. They write their own songs with their own tune to avoid copyright infringement.
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philocinemas
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Last night I was watching My Own Worst Enemy and they sung the "Happy Birthday Song" - That show was on NBC (not ABC - Disney). I have long heard that this song was copyrighted, and I was reminded of this thread.
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Robert Nowall
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As I recall---maybe Wikipedia has the story, but I haven't looked---the song started out as "Good Morning to All," and later the tune was adapted to birthday parties. I think it's from somewhere in the late 1920s to late 1930s...
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steffenwolf
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Christine's link to Snopes above lists the origin and original lyrics.
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