A very specific question about copyright

So, for a while now I have been planning a secondary WiP to my main one, and I ran into a concern about copyright.

The story is set in an alternate future in the 2100s during a climate ravaged setting, and as you may expect, society isn’t doing too well. The MC and some other characters travel on a steam train, (because electricity is not reliable in the apocalypse).

I originally planned to make it just any old steam train, but being the train nerd I am, I decided that I would decide on a specific model. After putting some thought into it, I decided on the BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0.

Or to translate that from train nerd talk, I decided on a specific model, this one.

But, seeing as there are only 9 surviving locomotives of that class, I decided that, being the perfectionist I was, I needed to come up with a realistic backstory of how the mad-max-esque steam train came to be.

In short, I want to use the 92220 “Evening Star”, which is on display at the National Railway Museum in York. But I am unable to find any concrete evidence over the copyright on this train, or any preserved trains come to think of it. I was able to find this website from the National Railway Museum, which talks about copyright, but that never mentions copyright on the trains, just any books or images they may hold.

I realise this is a very specific question which I probably should not be getting so worked up over, but I keep worry that if I go ahead and assume that since I can’t find any information on the copyright, it is in the public domain, that I’ll end up getting slapped with a copyright strike or something similar.


Copyright doesn’t apply to vehicles. Write about whatever train you like. As long as you’re not representing any existing company or current product in a deliberately misleading way, there’s nothing anyone can do to you.


Yup. This. Go nuts, and know that Night Road, with its thick clouds of brand names and ghastly deeds, and with really solid marketing, never heard a peep of complaint from trademark holders.

And if anyone with standing to complain somehow sees it and complains, easy enough to change it to a DR Standard Class 8E 2-11-4, “81110 Morning Star” or something else close enough that train nerds would see what you did there.


I think the only copyright you have to worry about is copying something that someone has already written about the Evening Star. Any description would need to be your own work in your own words.
One thing you might want to consider, in case a train nerd decides to pick holes in your tale, is that the 10F locos had problems running over modern railway tracks and would derail because of their configuration, according to Wikipedia. Might be worth checking up on as it might be a handy hook in your plot.

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Another solution is to have the cast name their locomotive the “Evening Star” and have one of the cast members a train nerd that shows off their knowledge of the historical locomotive.

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I highly doubt anyone else has decided to design a Mad Max-esque configuration for specifically the Evening Star, but I shall look just in case. And yes I’m well aware the problems that the 9F faces on modern railways. But, all it would take is some modifications to the driving wheels, and with the plot I have in mind, (that plot being that the MC’s father found the train, and has modified it over the course of 20 or so years), I think any discrepancies can be explained with “modifications”. To explain the plot holes further, I would basically need to type up the synopsis, but that’s not what this thread is about. I will say though, that thanks to the apocalyptic setting, I plan to limit the train to 30mph, so that any dangers in the tracks ahead can be seen well in advance, allowing the train to come to a safe stop.

Wait, I swear you’ve actually gone and read my mind. The character who drives the train is actually going to be a massive train nerd.
And on that note, while the locomotive itself will be the 92220, the MC will get the option to rename it. Although I can consider some special dialogue for keeping it as the “Evening Star”, if that would not break any copyright laws. But from @Khipsky and @AletheiaKnights’s responses, I think it will be okay.


It wouldn’t.


As others have noted already, you’re not in any copyright danger here! If it helps set your mind at ease, here’s a bit more information with a link to an official source.

Copyright only applies to creative works in the artistic sense of the word. That is: sculpture, images, films, text, etc. It’s also there to protect the ability of the creator to profit from their creations.

Even if copyright did apply to trains, the US Copyright Office is pretty clear that titles cannot be copyrighted.

In theory, British Railways could have trademarked the name Evening Star, but there isn’t any evidence that they did. And actually, both British Railways and the company that built the train are now out of business.

In short: Go wild! :smiley: