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Writing and Publishing > Public Domain

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message 1: by A.L., Stormy Chronicler (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 998 comments Do anyone know what the rules are for public domain work on SW? I have a short story - which is based on a PD work (although the story only uses an adaptation of characters and takes place AFTER the event - big bad zone reckon it's public domain - and let me publish if I verify the PD details but what does SW say on this?


message 2: by Steph, Space Opera Diva (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 807 comments From your description it sounds like an original story using characters from a public domain work (like Kim Newman did with Anno Dracula), so why does Amazon think it's public domain?

This is in Smashwords Q&A:

Can I publish public domain books on Smashwords?
No. You must be the original author of the work, or the exclusive electronic publisher or distributor of the work. The only exception to this rule is if you are the author of the public domain book.


message 3: by A.L., Stormy Chronicler (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 998 comments Not sure. The work the original story is derived from is PD, but the work itself isn't. You know what Amazon are like - I'd rather err on the side of caution.


message 4: by Pat (new)

Pat Powers | 44 comments In addition to copyright with public domain works, you must also think about trademark issues. For example, the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate (basically, his heirs who are sponging off great-grandpa's work) have trademarked the character Tarzan and some of the others. This means that although many of ERB's works have passed into the public domain as they were written over a century ago in many instances, and can be published in their entirety, you can't use Tarzan as a character in your story.

I know about this because I did some research on an old Italian peplum film called "Thor the Mighty Hunter" and sometimes "Taur the Mighty Hunter." I was puzzled because it was about a muscular jungle dweller with a black friend who lived among primitive tribespeople. Turns out the filmmakers figured they could use "Tarzan the Mighty Hunter" because the original Tarzan story was in the public domain.

When the ERB people sent a "cease and desist" letter to the filmmakers about "Tarzan the Mighty Hunter" he became "Taur the Mighty Hunter" and then, for reasons I don't know, "Thor the Mighty Hunter."

I doubt if very many characters in books are trademarked, probably only those that have become media properties, you know, like everything Disney gets its grubby hands on. Still, it's something you need to watch out for.


message 5: by A.L., Stormy Chronicler (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 998 comments Thanks. I couldn't find anything trademarked for it.


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