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I was digging round trying to see if the copyright for Warhammer Fantasy Quest was still held by Games workshop who stopped producing the game 14 years ago. I don't know how long the copyright would last even if it was still held, in the UK.

Who owns the copyright for a boardgame that is out of print?

How long will copyright last for?

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possible duplicate of What is the duration of copyright on a board game map? –  user1873 Aug 12 '12 at 14:02
The duplicate question doesn't answer who owns the IP for WFQ, but since Games Workshop still exists, it is they. Even if GW went bankrupt, or an individual was sold the rights to it and they died, someone else would own it for 70+ years. It would be retained the estate of the deceased, or would be distributed to the creditors of the defunct business. –  user1873 Aug 12 '12 at 14:33
@user1873 is that not just copy write on film and books? –  Pureferret Aug 12 '12 at 14:35
copyright protects any artistic work. You might want to read the FAQ at the US Copyright Office copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#protect –  user1873 Aug 12 '12 at 15:48
copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf –  user1873 Aug 12 '12 at 15:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

As previously pointed out, just because a copyright holder has stopped producing a game doesn't mean they stop owning it. GW still own the rights (unless they have sold them; you could write and ask them if this is more than curiosity). Games are usually covered by copyright in the rules, characters and concepts though there may be patents on mechanics; whichever feature you are specifically interested in, there will be a law stopping casual copying unless GW's lawyers were totally incompetent, which seems unlikely.

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Patents are extremely rare for board games. –  aramis Aug 13 '12 at 21:34

The in/out of print status has no bearing on ownership of copyright for a work. Since you modified the question to be about the UK, the governing authority is the Intellectual Property Office. IANAL, this does not constitute legal advice.

The term of protection or duration of copyright varies depending on the type of copyright work. The term of protection in the UK for an original written (literary), theatrical (dramatic) musical or artistic work lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years from the end of the year in which he/she died. ...

You should also note that. for copyright works originating outside the UK or another country of the European Economic Area (EEA), the term of protection may be shorter if it is shorter in the country of origin. There may also be variations in the term where a work was created before 1 January 1996.

Additional, since many works might be owned by a company, the IPO says:

An employer should keep careful records of which person(s) created the work for them which they own. The period of copyright protection may still be linked to the date of the death of the creator(s) - that is the employee(s).

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