It is not my favorite story about Tintin either for different reasons, but I would rather call it "dated" than "horrifically racist".
This isn't directed against you, Furienna, but let's not to re-examine that topic here, as we've other threads to cover it, which are better place to carry on that discussion; it's okay to touch on it in the matter of how it might or might not affect the question of usage in the present day if and when it enters the public domain, but anything else is for other threads.
Here's a thing which might put the original topic in a bit of perspective: James Bond is in the public domain! And has been for several years!However...
Only in Canada, and any other countries which use the base line of the Berne Convention (the international protocol for copyright) of "Author's lifetime, plus 50 years" as the foundation of their national regulations (the Convention allows for individual nations to set the limits at the base-line as a minimum, but individual countries can increase the terms in their jurisdictions if they want).
So my question would be, that, given that we've had four or five years of freedom (in Canada!) to make new James Bond movies, TV shows and books, why are we not seeing lots of Bond projects filling the gap while we wait for the official movie to be released?
And the answer would be, it appears, that it's very, very
complicated: the books are in the public domain, but not the movies, so any new works have to scrupulously avoid including anything which could be reasonably construed to be part of the film Bond's world. This has actually been a problem in the past, as the screen Bond has been pitted against the written Bond before, when it was argued (successfully) that the movie Bond had been developed by Fleming and others from his book character, but that Fleming then took the (then unproduced) script for Thunderball
, wrote a novel based on it, and didn't credit his screen writing partners. This led to a seemingly ever-more complex set of court cases, as people sued each other, and a period in which two different entities held rights to make movies (giving us the Connery Bond come-back, Never Say Never Again
). It only all came to an end when, through various mergers and deals, one company ended up holding both sides of the rights, effectively ending litigation, and re-uniting them.
So, while the law may allow Canadians to make James Bond works, the potential for the maker to fall foul of something which isn't in the public domain is enough to make them pause; that they then would have to navigate the problems of getting any traction in places that he's not
in the public domain probably renders the project unworkable for the foreseeable future.
And there are all sorts of caveats and points about what is and isn't permissible even with the things that you could do - it would appear you could legally* print your own copies of Casino Royale
, and haul them over the border and sell them in America, because they were legal where you made them, but you couldn't read them out loud to an audience there, because the performance rights of that text in the U.S. aren't in the public domain.
James Bond books are wholly in the public domain in Canada, yet remain an area that people seem reluctant to take on; the prospect of the minefield around a book about a character like Tintin, which starts to become public domain piecemeal, can surely only be more
*Not a lawyer, etc. don't rely on this!Update: Here's an article
which sets out the pitfalls for anyone looking to do James Bond (in Canada), including an interesting wrinkle arising from the creation of SPECTRE (the organization, rather than the film of that title)...