Specifically, I'm talking about the following question, but let's extend it to any kind of law questions somehow related to science fiction.

Public domain for Star Wars?

I'm not quite willing to close it at this time, but I'm a bit concerned for the future of questions like this... Off the top of my head, I can't think of many laws regulating the release of science fiction... It seems like we might want to think about if legal questions should be asked here.

  • 2
    I dig this conceptually, but don't think that this question is a good example of how this kind of thing could work.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 0:52
  • Could you please clarify the basis of your concerns "for the future of questions like this"? I am not seeing any major harm from them as a class, but that could very well be a failure of my imagination, or my inner Dumbledore exerting undue influence :) Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 1:59

3 Answers 3


If there's a question that requires the sort of expertise we have here, in addition to some legal expertise, then yes. This is just the same as a question that wants both physics expertise and knowledge of science fiction, or history and fantasy, and so on.

I dislike that specific question, because there's nothing in it that's particularly about science-fiction. You could substitute Saturday Night Fever for Star Wars and the question wouldn't really change.

However, the same applies to a question like this, and there wasn't any disagreement about that (my recollection was that these were not on topic, but that's not what the meta post shows, unless there's another later one that I didn't find).

The copyright question is also rather "general reference"-y, since a web search for "star wars copyright expire" finds the answer easily. If the question is more "does revising a film renew the copyright", that's not really general reference, but there must be plenty of films outside of science fiction & fantasy that have been revised, so I still don't see why you'd ask it here.

  • 1
    +1 especially on it being general referencey. Doing a search on any of the related copyright terms/language + 'star wars' should lead to answers on this. But other legal questions related to SF&F works I think are on topic.
    – user1027
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 3:29
  • Now that I have mod powers, I can tell you that you are not crazy, the highest voted question was indeed against such, but it was deleted by the owner... Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 4:11
  • @Pearsonartphoto ah, thanks (alas for the powers lost going public. I guess I ought to work on getting 600 more rep). Odd to delete the highest voted post. IAC that would add to my personal feeling that the question isnt suited to the site.
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 5:42
  • @TonyMeyer Deleting the highest voted post happens on many SE sites: it's usually a widely popular bit of useless trivia or a question on choosing the color of the bike shed.
    – user56
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 23:58
  • 1
    I fully endorse this answer. I'm ok with a legal question if it's uniquely about an SF work (e.g. if Star Wars's publication date or applicable juridsiction was hard to research).
    – user56
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 0:00

That's not a question about science fiction. It's about copyright law. And that's not in this site's purview.

Off topic unless we bend the terms "science fiction & fantasy" to actually include things like:

  • copyright and intellectual property law
  • trademark queries and disputes
  • works entering the public domain
  • lawsuits over actor likenesses in sequels, merchandise and spin-offs
  • legality over remixes, parodies and mash-ups

For such questions you'd want to ask a gaggle of experts versed in such on a site that gathers them explicitly. That would be another Stack Exchange site in the wings.


I'm on the fence.

  • On one hand, this question probably would fit better on Movies SE than SFF. It's a lot better fit there.

  • On the other hand, it's not strictly speaking off-topic under current rules, and I'm having trouble finding a good enough reason to make it against the rules (e.g. how would such questions as a class make the site worse off)?

  • On the third hand (hey, we ARE on SFF!), questions like this MAY benefit the site by raising topically relevant questions that might help drive traffic to the site without being meaningless noise that drowns out the rest of content.

In summary, I think we should let this specific question stay (I hope the community will agree that after my edits its of less objectionable quality :), but scrutinize any others like it and make sure they are of an acceptable quality before letting them stay - and if we get a couple of more that we find to be not well fitting with the site at all, consider a topical ban.

  • The question is not about SF for the reason Tony Meyer exposed: all that matters is that it's about a movie published in year X in country Y. P.S. The third hand is called the gripping hand.
    – user56
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 0:02
  • @Gilles - Thanks! Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 0:30

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