Q: I have a great plot for a James Bond novel / movie. Am I safe to write it without getting sued?
While you could probably write it without getting sued, if you wanted to publish, license, or sell the rights, you would need to get permission from the owner of the James Bond copyrights. At the present time, I believe MGM owns those rights. However, they are in finanical difficulty and may have to sell those rights to survive.
Rights in a character are more complicated because they can be based on different portrayals, and they include trademark rights.
If you were doing a radio play of a new James Bond story and you did it impersonating Sean Connery you'd have lots of other rights to clear first.
As to writing "fan fiction" starring James Bond, it is technically violating copyright. Sir Ian Flemming created the character, and died in 1964. I have not looked into it specifically and there are issues with British copyright law and US copyright law, and the law has changed so further research would be necessary to be certain so this is for educational purposes only.
Under current law (in both countries) copyright lasts the life of the author plus 70 years. If James Bond was created under present law, or for various reasons present law applies, then it will be under copyright until 2034.
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