Things have certainly changed.
Back in 1995 I was helping to run a Virtual American Airlines and after 4 or so months of operating actively (FS95 it was!) we got a letter stating we had to shut down immediately or start paying licensing costs, which were thousands per day if I recall correctly.
However in 1996 several UK based airlines were asked about their opinion on VA's using their logos and representations of their aircraft. An answer similar to the one quoted by Nathanael was given. It was generally interpreted that although they had to object, as long as no money was being made out of it then they would turn a blind eye. I'm not sure how this stands for commercial developers.
I used to record sounds from aircraft all round the world with the permission of airlines and their handlers, it was always under the understanding that no names would be mentioned, only the aircraft type, apart from a few Scandinavian types who were more than happy.
I think for GPL software such as FlightGear there are no problems whatsoever, nobody makes any money out of it so what would be gained?
The only problems we might have if people were to use FG to record videos or screenshots of Airliners in liveries crashing into eachother/buildings/places etc or being shot down etc. Then splashing them all over the net, I can understand a problem there but for general simulation I'd say we're fine.
On 22 Jun 2010, at 15:36, Reagan Thomas wrote:
> Nathanael Rebsch wrote:
>> i once took care of sorting out the legal situation of OpenTTD.
>> OpenTTD was reverse engeneered from Transport Tycoon (Deluxe, IIRC).
>> This work was done in Sweden, where now law prohibited the reverse
>> engeneering if lisence agreements (e.g. eula) did not take care of such
>> notices - on this very CD of Transport Tycoon Deluxe, this indeed was
>> (Assumed) Copyright of TTD used to belong to Micropose - in fact they
>> only ever had production rights - copyright was still with the
>> manager-company of chris sawyer (to mee unknown at that time).
>> Micropose was bought by Atari, so i contacted their legal department (a
>> few times actually) - which is where chris sawyers managers were
>> mentioned to me. after lengthy talks i called the company in the UK.
>> end result: they were well aware of OpenTTD, they were not happy, they
>> would like to take the matter to court... BUT a few things just stand in
>> the way:
>> OpenTTD is released under GPL, there is no money behind OpenTTD, so in
>> fact there is nothing they could archieve with taking OpenTTD to court.
>> what i want to express:
>> Airlines will most likely be very familiar with Flightgear. They will
>> very much know that liveries exist, and that these are distributed under
>> GPL compatible lisences.
>> they probably have larger legal departments and know everything they
>> need to know about such a project.
>> and there is probably a very good reason why they did not contact
>> Flightgear before.
>> Generally you can wait until you receive a notice, before needing to
>> take action - some companies even risk that - and there is usually a lot
>> more money to be gotten than with Flightgear or other GPL released projects.
>> Nathanael Rebsch
> Out of curiosity, a few years ago I contacted American Airlines legal
> dept in charge of trademarks and asked if their livery could be used on
> aircraft made available for or with FlightGear. The short answer is,
> no, they won't permit it. By US law, trademarks *must* be actively
> protected by their holders or they become common and unprotected in the
> eyes of the law. With that in mind, they really have no choice but to
> officially refuse permission.
> However, reading between the legal weasel-words in their response and
> having had a glimpse into how the real world operates, you could put
> their AA logo on a nice, shiny aircraft model available for download and
> they will most likely turn their heads and look away. Overlay a vulgar
> work on top of their logo on your plane and you'll get a C&D letter as
> soon as they find out about it.
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