Are Orcs copyrighted?
February 6, 2013 7:52 AM Subscribe
If you look up "Orc" on Wikipedia, it says that, rather that coming from, say, German folklore (as I assumed), they first appeared in Tolkien's works. But if that's the case, how can Orcs appear in all sorts of fantasy books and video games? Or am I just naive, and royalties are being paid to the Tolkien estate, such as by the creators of Dungeons and Dragons?
posted by gnossie to Law & Government (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If this question seems ridiculous, consider "mithril." According to Wikipedia, it's copyrighted by the Saul Zaentz company. Therefore, presumably, if you use the concept of mithril in your work, you must not only get their permission, such as by paying them royalties. But why doesn't the same situation obtain for Orcs?