Copyrighted Slot Machines: What’s the Deal with Them?

Some slots developers turn towards popular movies, books, and TV shows for material. These copyrighted slot machines have a high chance of success, because they’re already based on winning formulas.

But when exactly do developers need to license copyrighted material? For example, do slots providers need to pay for Brothers Grimm stories, for example?

I’ll cover this matter by discussing when material becomes public domain and how it affects copyrighted slot machines.

Older Works Become Public Domain

You may notice that a lot of slot machines are based on older works, such as Alice in Wonderland or Frankenstein.

The authors to these stories released their works long ago in the 1800s. The novels based on these concepts have since become public domain.

This term refers to when an original work is so old that it’s no longer subject to copyright. Therefore, a slots maker can release a Frankenstein-based game without fear of being sued.

You can see the rules regarding US public domain here. Simply put, anything produced before 1923 in the US is now considered public domain.

Copyrighted Slot Machines Are More Confusing than at First Glance

Slot machines can’t rip off anything associated with an older work. For example, they can’t use pictures of the Johnny Depp-played Mad Hatter without paying Walt Disney Studios.

The latter rule is due to the fact that Walt Disney has the rights to anything associated with their film. Just because they used public domain for their Alice in Wonderland film doesn’t mean that everybody can use their likeness.

In short, slots developers can make all kinds of generic games based on popular tales. But they can’t use every image or likeness associated with a tale.

Producers must instead make sure that they’re not using copyrighted material with their slot machines.