Books are a great thing. Some are so interesting and amazing that you have to read them multiple times. Many books get so popular that they turn into amazing or not so amazing TV shows (like Game of Thrones). Some turn into entire movie franchises, like the Harry Potter series. One of the most iconic characters of all times, James Bond, also has a movie franchise. Portrayed by a plethora of actors, who to this day are the subject of very vivid debates which of them was the best Bond.
Well, who would have bet that Bond of all series was going to be in the public domain? You would’ve been better off using this offer from Get Lucky to play some casino games than to expect Bond to be in the public domain. Well, truth be told, he is in the public domain, at least some of the novels.
Ian Fleming died in 1964, leaving the world relatively young, according to many. In 2015, many of the James Bond novels entered the public domain, at least in Canada, where the books written by an author enter the public domain 50 years after his death. For the United States and the UK, the situation is a bit different. The US has a different law and you can expect Bond to enter the public domain in 2030, while the UK will have him in the public domain in 2035. There are different copyright laws in every country, some more, some less sensible.
Another problem is that not all Bond novels were written by Fleming. There were two more Bond authors. Kingsley Amis and John Gardner were also Bond writers. Their novels will not be in the public domain for a bit longer, given that one Amis died in 1995 and Gardner in 2007. The novel Thunderbolt is a special case, as well, given that it is a collaboration, it will not be in the public domain for even longer.
Movies are a very, very different beast. They will unlikely be in the public domain for a very, very long time, as they are by law in some countries bound to the life of anyone who worked on the production of the movie, such as a composer, director, producer and the like. In some countries, 70 years need to pass after the death of the last of those. And while gigantic publishers are still active, all the movie characters will be very strictly off limits.
Bond is public, but only the characters and scenes as you see them in the Fleming books. Those are all of the things an author can use, at least in Canada, with the novel Thunderbolt being an exception. Have this in mind if you plan on writing and publishing anything Bond related.
James Bond will still be tied to publishers and authors, directors and producers alike, but at least his core is in the public domain, in some countries. The world of copyright is very messy.