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How does one figure out if an aircraft is copyrighted?


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So, was wondering, how does one figure out if an aircraft is still under copyright somewhere? I'd assume if it was from an existing corporation you'd just start there, but how does one check for companies that have been brought out byultiple entities?

 

And how does one check to see if anyone ever retained copyright of the form? As I recall, it needs to be renewed periodically, and will lapse of they don't. 

 

Had an idea for a thing that would use some of the old Seversky designs, but I know they've been gone for a long time. I mean Fairchild burned their documentation on the entire line rather than spend the money to sort it out of the F-105 stuff, and as near as I can tell, their remnants seem to have gotten bought out by Elbit. 

 

Where does one even start? 

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You would have to start by contacting the company in question, and doing whatever footwork necessary to figure out who owns the relevant material. It's also not entirely about the aircraft itself, it's about the company name, their intellectual property, etc. Case and point, almost everything in Arma 3, with few exceptions, is real but renamed. They can have a Merkava IV, but they can't CALL it a Merkava IV. All the same stuff applies to cars, too, in racing games.

 

It's no different than stealing somebody's logo, name, or too closely mimicing their material.

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Ok. So say they do assert copyright over the material, what evidence should they be able to provide to support their assertion? The material is over 75 years old, and the only association seems to be with the company that bought the company that the original owning company reorganized into.

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''Evidence they have to provide''? They either own it or they don't. They don't have to provide YOU anything. You're the one wanting to use THEIR name. How old it is is largely irrelevant in this context. If you want to use McDonnel Douglas's (as an example)name on your module, you need their permission, or the permission of whoever owns all of MCD's IP. Which involves calling them up and asking nicely if you can do so and how much you're going to have to pay them to in exchange.

 

This isn't a ''free gratis'' proposition you're discussing. You're going to have to pay them a substantial amount of money to use their business IP and associate it with anything you do. The licensing is literally the biggest obstacle to any module's production, and negotiations for THAT alone have been mentioned as sometimes taking years. This is a COMMERCIAL undertaking.

 

Stop and think about this a little more seriously and you'll see you're going about this all the wrong way. You don't just pop up on the forums one day and decide to do this stuff, you end up paying licensing fees to several parties and negotiating with national defense agencies for permission to use their stuff, even if it's old. Go read the last few pages of the aborted ''Black Cat Simulations Tu-22M''.


Edited by zhukov032186
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Given that  a copyright is a non-physical entity, one generally does have to be able to show some traceablity to the originator when said originator is no longer in existence, before one can assert that one is the new owner. 

 

And given the infamous Nintendo vs Universal lawsuit, just because an entity asserts they hold copyright to something does not make it, in fact, true.

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Well, the contractor itself doesn't exist anymore, and as near as I can tell, no-one else using its likeness or likeness of other aircraft in the series have any attributations to existing contractors at all, so I'm thinking it may have lapsed entirely. 

 

Now if you want a shaggy dog story, try and figure out who would likely own the rights to the likeness of the P-40 Warhawk. 

 

Would it be

A) Curtiss-Wright?

B) Boeing Aerospace? 

C) United Technologies? 

D) Some other company entirely? 

 

Could actually be any of them, or none of them depending on what changed hands when, or to whom. 

 

Mergers and bankruptcies are fun... 

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A start point for research on aircraft in this matter is their type certificate. If it ever had one, which unfortunately for your request is probably not the case, you may be able to trace down where it went easier, than the copyrights. But again, in particular case, I would be surprised if anything like that ever existed.

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As I recall Fantasy of Flight has a flightworthy P-35, until it got damaged in a hurricane. 

 

It did fly in the US, so it would be reasonable to assume it flew with some type of certification from the FAA. I'll see what I can find. Given when the FAA was founded, I suspect you are correct that the pre-P-35 aircraft would not have had type certificates, but I'm wondering if the type certificate might give an indication of any corporations are currently claiming ownership of the P-35 or its lineage. 

 

Would probably be worth comparing it with similar certificates for the DC-3 and B-17, and the B-26, if I can track one down. I known there were at least a couple of those flying into the 90's.

 

It would be interesting to see how the record keeping differs between the types. 

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DC-3 is easy, as that one still has a valid FAA TC, the current TC holder being to no surprise Boeing. B-17 has a limited TC held by Transcontinental and Western, the P-40L and N by Prevost.

 

Now again, this is only a place to ask for, it does not say anything about the copyright.

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How on earth did Transcontinental and Western end up with the B-17 type certificate? I would have thought Boeing would have held onto it like grim death. And given T&W's demise, wouldn't that have migrated it to American Airlines? 

 

The P-40's even weirder. Are we talking about Prevost the coach company? With the way the assets divested, I would have thought it ended up with Boeing.

 

This sounds like a subject for an aviation book. 

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To be honest, the Trancontinental and Western did puzzle me as well. But bear in mind, them holding the type certifcate "just" means that they are responsible for keeping the type airworthy. I guess Boeing did not want to continue support and thus sold the type certificate. Although one must say that the limited type certificate is a lot less than the regular one and seems to exist only for the purpose of keeping former military aircraft in the air for demonstration purposes.

 

Prevost probably refers to Chris Prevost, who seems to be a P-40 owner.

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On 2/8/2021 at 5:35 PM, Voyager said:

So, was wondering, how does one figure out if an aircraft is still under copyright somewhere? I'd assume if it was from an existing corporation you'd just start there, but how does one check for companies that have been brought out byultiple entities?

 

Copyright stays for creator lifetime + 70 years from the death since the late 70's. Before that it was 30-70 years depending various factors, but any work before that should stop being copyrighted until 2047 or so..

 

But then there are patents, their renewal and everything else. Design patents, engineering patents etc... very well there can be lot of things that affects.

 

If you are talking about an old aircraft, I would drop email to museum that has one, or that is specialized for that kind aircraft as they have at least an expert who knows more about the history and how their companies has merged, sold etc.

 

 

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