Ian Fleming died in 1964. I live in New Zealand and our copyright laws protect an author's work until 50 years after his/her death.
(25 years post-death for publisher's copyright.)
Arguably Fleming's novels are in the public domain in NZ. (Assuming they are only sampled and published in NZ).
However, does the fact that Fleming is British and that his works were first published in Britain, override our country's copyright period?
I would be stunned if the literary character 'James Bond' was free and available for any New Zealand author to include in their own works.
Any thoughts or insights are appreciated.
No, it makes no difference to the situation within New Zealand that Ian Fleming was British. By virtue of the Copyright (Application to Other Countries) Order 1995 the Copyright Act 1994 applies equally to works produced in countries listed in Schedule 1 of the 1995 Order as it does to works by New Zealand authors or works produced in New Zealand.
However should the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (link to pdf of text of Intellectual Property chapter) ever become revived and ratified, then New Zealand would be required to increase the term of copyright to lifetime plus 70 years (see Art 18.63). However Article 18.10 would not require the change to be retrospective, nor would it require any copyright which had lapsed to be revived.
Incidentally, the current period of protection for a published edition is 25 years from the end of the year of publication, not the author's death.
Expert advice as always. Our Prime Minister spent his entire last term campaigning for TPP and President Trump duly flushed it down the loo. We have a new Prime Minister now who has no interest in re-heating TPP. Good to know it wouldn't be retrospective. Good to know a British citizen is not a factor. And noted about publisher copyright.
Okay, if I set out to write a modern day version of 'Dr No' (and carefully avoid any EON movie references) do you think I would still attract the attention of Ian Fleming's estate?
I noticed this article:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/ ... james-bond
Or maybe an author would be best advised to contact the Fleming Estate out of courtesy and inform them of the intended action in a market that claims it as public domain?
As long as any publication only occurs strictly within New Zealand and any other countries with a lifetime + 50 years copyright term, the Fleming estate would have no grounds for a claim. However if you or any other author wanted to exploit the internet to any degree or produce an electronic book for sale worldwide then that is likely to be when any problem with the Fleming estate or the other stakeholders (see below) would occur. If you were self-publishing, this might be made more difficult.
You would need to avoid any of the distinct features of all of the EON and the Famous Artists Productions* Bond films, and either remain true to the original Bond found in the books, or alternatively make up completely new characteristics. Be aware that there is still some <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderba ... roversy</a> over the part played by a writer named Kevin McClory in the creation of the book Thundeball, and since McClory didn't die until 2006 it may be argued that copyright in that book could exist for another 60 odd years. The books The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights were published shortly after Fleming's death, however this makes no difference to their copyright status today.
You also need to be aware that the words 'James Bond' (and no doubt several other words and symbols associated with the Bond world, I haven't checked) have been registered in New Zealand as a trade mark in 3 separate classes, the most rlevant for your purposes being Class 9 Computer software, games etc, and Class 41 Films TV and entertainment including scripts. The registrant in all cases is the US based company Danjaq, LLC which handles the intellectual property of EON films on behalf of Cubby Broccoli's estate.
It would certainly be courteous to inform the Fleming estate beforehand, and it might smooth the way, but it is certainly not necessary in my view. You might also think about contacting Penguin New Zealand to see if they are likely to oppose you - not necessarily because they have legal grounds for so doing, but because they can afford to tie you up in protracted quasi-legal argument and bluff, in the hope of wearing you down. The issues over Anne Frank's diary and the Sherlock Holmes stories are illustrative of the sort of battle which you might face.
*Famous Artists Productions Inc were responsible for the original 1967 version of the film Casino Royale