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Copyrights and Inspirations
(time of reading 6 min)
The choice of the escape room theme is one of the most important decisions for escape room owners. Catchy theme can be a motor for advertisement, attracting customers on it's own, while the boring and non-appealing one will turn your escape room project into the uphill battle. Would you rather visit an "Intergalactic Ninja Dungeon" or "Accountant's office"? I bet we all know the answer.

Besides "catchiness", the theme is as good as the amount of marketing it already has under the belt. If you come up with really fully unique setting of your own - you will need to explain the customers why it's cool (which might be tough as well). If you pick one, which is already promoted by others for years or even decades - that makes your life significantly easier at least on one occasion.
And before someone say "rip-off" or "IP violation" - let's check the borders of the copyright laws to make sure we do nothing wrong. Most of the following discussion will come up to 2 terms: "public domain" and "generic".
Public domain
Public domain generally refers to something so old, it's no longer subject to copyright limitations. The specific cut-off dates differ from country to country, but mostly you are looking at everything released before 1930s as already safe for being used. The most well-known example in escape room industry is "Sherlock Holmes" - the 19th century story, which anyone can base it's escape room on (as long as you don't pretend to be the actual author of "Sherlock Holmes").

This availability, however, does not transfer to specific later creations based on public domain IP. Simply speaking - you can use Sherlock Holmes, but you can't use Downey Jr or Cumberbatch in their Sherlock Holmes impersonation. You can use Thor, as he's the god of thunder from nordic myths, "released" quite a while ago. But you can't use the specific looks of Thor from Marvel universe or Chris Hemsworth images. These newest creations are called "derivative works" and are subject of their own copyright expiration countdown.
Pro-tip: When in doubt - make sure you check the release date and the local applicable copyright cut-off rules (it can be specific date - like 1922 or specific timeframe since the original author passed away).

Movie industry's been heavily relying on public domain themes for years, not only because it carries a load of masterpieces, but because it's free of charge, too.
"Generic" is a word, describing something as wide and unspecific, that it can't be copyrighted. Though some people see any magic-themed escape room as "Harry Potter" rip-off, you obviously can't copyright things like "magic", "superpowers" etc.
"Game of Thones" and "Harry Potter" will never appear unless "Lord of the Rings" and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" had paved the way years before. And "Lord of the Rings" in all it's beauty will never appear without medieval myths and epos. The success of certain stories is determined not only by their gifted authors (which is obviously important, too), but also by the demand for certain stories and themes, circularly appearing in society over the decades.

Usage of specific titles, personal and location names (like "Harry Potter" or "Hogwarts") is always a bad idea. But magic itself is not a property of Joan Rowling or Warner Bros. - it's a generic concept, which can and should be used.
Pro-tip: When in doubt, ask yourself - is the questionable element specific to this very one IP or not? Various "magic schools" appear in dozens of books, while "magic wands" can be found even in Homer's "Odyssey".
The upcoming Netflix "Witcher" series are about to become "the next best thing" and thus, most probably, a new battlefield for some of the copyright holywars. And while is heavily relying on books and less on the video game series, "Witcher" has not appeared from nowhere - it's set on a rich foundation of slavic myths and epos. The specific story is unique and belongs to it's authors in fullest, while the setting, the lore and the general appearance are all generic and based on centuries-old and "public domain" materials.
Opportunity awaits. Pick yours and make sure you go hand to hand with the latest trends of escape room industry.
Witchcraft escape room
The world famous book and videogame series is coming to the wider audience with Netflix blockbuster series "Witcher" scheduled to release soon and become "the new Game of Thrones".

Get yourself prepared - the most popular theme of 2020 is already available for your players.
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