Copyrights are a sticky thing, especially once the rights holder has passed away. In the US and EU, the general rule is that works stay protected under copyright for at least 70 years following the death of the author. Most of the rest of the world, however, follows guidelines set down by the Berne Convention, which ends the copyright at 50 years after death. Wouldn’t ya know it, James Bond creator Ian Fleming died in 1964, which means as of January 1st, 2015, his iconic characters and stories are now part of the public domain in many countries the world over. That includes Canada.
iO9 has a nice breakdown of what the lapse in copyright means, but in essence, people in countries like Canada can openly adapt Fleming’s novels into new media without fear of prosecution. The only drawback is the lack of distribution in the US or EU, but that’s not stopping a pair of Canadian filmmakers who are ready to start a brand new Bond film series.
Lee Demarbe and Ian Driscoll recently gave an interview to CBC’s “q” (via The Playlist) where they revealed plans to begin work on a remake of For Your Eyes Only. Roger Moore played Bond in the 1981 original, but the filmmaking duo are hoping to go with an unknown for their update. They mentioned Jessica Paré as a possible Judy.
Demarbe and Driscoll said the movie could start off a new franchise, with three additional films already planned out. They also hope to have a black Bond down the line.
With no possible US or EU distribution in the cards, the filmmakers admit they may have problems finding producers willing to fund the project. Still, with the rights in the public domain, it’s likely someone somewhere will eventually launch a whole new universe of Bond. And one we’ll never (legally) see in the US.