Skip to Content

Aircraft names and images

7 replies [Last post]

Were about to develop a commercially sold game about WW1 and WW2 airbattles.

What Id like to know is whether its allowed to use any planes in the game with their appropriate names and model numbers?

Also where can one get historic pictures showing planes, airbattles, tanks, newspaper headline pictures and other related stuff from WW1 and WW2 with the rights for use in a commercially sold game?

Aircraft names and images

sorry I must have posted this twice

Zzzzz's picture
Joined: 06/20/2008
Aircraft names and images


Hello and welcome to the site. I removed your double post, so it makes it easier for everyone to help answer your questions. I am not sure about copyrighting of actual war plane names and numbers. I hope someone knows since I would be interested in knowing the same thing.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Copyright protection

I just come to remember something.

I read an official american document in pdf that explain that games are not completely protected by the copyright laws. The only elements protected by copyright laws are text in rule books or cards and artistic work like images and music ( if there is any).

Any game concept or rules is not covered by the copyright law. If you want to protect it you must make some kind of special demand to the library of the congress and send a copy of the game with a document specifying what you want actually to protect. Of course, this is for the united states, I don't know about other country procedure.

Which mean that if you don't borrow artwork and text but only make a new game that has the same logic of game play, I think it will work unless there is a pattent on an aspect of a game.

Aircraft names and images

I'm not a lawyer and this shouldn't be construed as legal advice...

There are any number of venues that use names and images of airplanes from just about any era. I'm not sure, but I don't think you'd be going out on a limb using them in your game.

As for images of the airplanes, there are a wide variety of clip art packages and other royalty free image collections that you can use for source material. Check out the web and you should be able to find what you need. Just be sure it's royalty free (especially if you plan on producing and distributing your game in any way).

Newspaper and other photos from WWI have probably (and again, I'm no legal expert so you will need to check for yourself) have probably lapsed into the public domain. Note that this is not true of images of WWI airplanes taken after 1921 (or thereabouts). WWII photos are still most likely covered by copyright.

As I said, military aircraft is a popular enough topic that you shouldn't have too much trouble finding royalty free images to use.

Hedge-o-Matic's picture
Joined: 07/30/2008
Aircraft names and images

The names and numbers of combat weapons systems are not copyrighted. Since these gain their final designations by governments after approval for use, their official desigantions will never overlap those of other existing systems. No government in its right mind would say to itself "Hey, these new fighters are really neat! Let's call them F-16 Falcons! That name rocks!" The US government wouldn't send a "Cease and Desist" order to this other government when it heard they were making their own F-16's. It'd send an ambassador and a weapon inspection team.

So the worst you'd have to worry about when using official desigantions in your game would be to have a weapons inspection team knock on your door one night. Better hope you don't have any oil in your house, though, or you'll face a full-scale invasion!

seo's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Aircraft names and images

Copyright law, specially the period of protection, veries a lot from one country to another.

Here is an interesting and very informative page on image copyright in the USA.

From that document, one issue applies directly to your original concern:

Works published before 1978

* 95 years after publication
* If published before 1964, 28 years after publication + 67 more years if renewed

If I understand correctly, then, images of WWII published before 1964 became public domain by 1992 or before, if the owner didn't renew the copyright. So an aircraft photo published in 1945 might have became public domain by 1973.

In that document you'll also find a link to another document explaining the criteria used to determine whether it migh be considered fair use or not.



After posting the message I kept reading the linked site and found this chart with a clear explanation of copyright terms based on date of creation/publication of works.

Rick-Holzgrafe's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008
Aircraft names and images

seo wrote:
After posting the message I kept reading the linked site and found this chart with a clear explanation of copyright terms based on date of creation/publication of works.

More wiki fodder!

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut