Something sounds a little odd. It seems to me the status quo that if I wanted to put a real car or motorcycle into a video game, say a Toyota or a Ferrari, everyone would say that the default position is that you're not allowed, and that you'd need to ask permission first, and that most likely permission wouldn't be granted, and that the license to place such a thing in my game would cost a fortune.
On the other I've noticed that people are much more confident about placing planes and military vehicles into a game, or display or render. I guess I'll start off with WW2 examples, and move from there. If we take the example of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, it was manufactured by North American Aviation. That company doesn't exist anymore exactly, but was merged into North American Rockwell, which then became named Rockwell International, and now is part of Boeing.
OK, so there's no problem including a P-51 Mustang in your production. I guess you might say that the rights ownership transitioned so many times and over such a long period that Boeing really doesn't care if you include a P-51 Mustang in your production.
Let's take another example, Boeing P-26 Peashooter, a 1930s fighter plane. In this case the manufacturer was all along Boeing. I am confident there is still no problem in including this in your production. In this case you might say that the plane is so old Boeing doesn't care if you include it in your production.
You might say the same about the Mitsubishi and Kawasaki WW2 era planes.
Even more recently, with the F-16 you'd think rights holders would be General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin. I'm pretty sure you won't have a problem with including an F-16. One of the designers of the F/A-18 Hornet was McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing). Same thing goes here.
In fact you can fast forward all the way to the present to the F-35 Lightning II, which was designed and built by Lockheed Martin. I doubt very much there would be issues with including this plane in your production.
So the thing in common with all the above planes is that they're military.
If we consider civilian planes like the 737 and 747, I feel there is no problem displaying these and putting them into productions. GPL'd flight simulators have been taken and commercialized (sold), with these models in it, and I doubt very much either that permission was sought, or in the case that it was sought I'm almost sure they didn't pay for any license to have them in their game.
So with civilian planes I feel this is very much the same thing. Correct me if I'm wrong.
On the other hand if I said I was I going to include a Porsche 912 from the 60s in my production, you would say I would be crazy to do so without permission, and to get a license to do so would cost me a fortune. However I'd expect a completely different reaction to for example the Porsche 597 from the 50s.
So I'm noticing two things:
- Military vehicles seem to be able to be used more permissively (a lot a more permissively).
- Civilian aircraft seem to be able to be used more permissively) than civilian land vehicles.
As for boats and ships, it's something I haven't thought of that much. And in the case of VERY old civilian land vehicles, such as maybe the first Chevrolet from 1913, though I'd be guessing, I imagine wouldn't be a problem using its likeness in a production such as a film or game or something. It's very interesting, I feel if someone used the likeness of one of the earliest Ford motor cars, the problem would be to a much greater extent using the trademarked Ford logo than that the likeness of the actual Ford model. Does anyone know roughly speaking why there are these differences in the status quo?