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Thread: Quoting a movie in my planned book, not sure what I can legally do?


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Permlink Replies: 4 - Pages: 1 - Last Post: Aug 6, 2013 5:57 PM Last Post By: cdalebrittain
robomatic

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Registered: 12/02/11
Quoting a movie in my planned book, not sure what I can legally do?
Posted: Aug 6, 2013 2:14 PM
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I was planning a book, where I am relating to a popular movie, who's story relates to my own life. I was going to quote from the movie and then write several paragraphs for each quote; how the qoute relates to my own experience.

But then I began to question if I could make these quotes from the movie script without infringing. Can anyone tell me what is the limitation here, assuming I don't have specific written approval? I was actually going to offer the DVD of the movie on my blog site, so those with a financial interest in the movie should actually benefit.

But to be clear, it's not a book about me copying the content of the movie, but instead using quotes as a kind of topic list for which I then speak my own story.

If I can't quote the script, then should I just describe the character and circumstance without actually quoting? How best to approach this. The reason for using the movie at all is that the topic is relevant and I had just decided to piggy back off of this popular movie and how it relates to my own personal experience in real life. I'm just trying to figure out how best to do it without infringing, etc.

Jesse

Posts: 256
Registered: 03/13/13
Re: Quoting a movie in my planned book, not sure what I can legally do?
Posted: Aug 6, 2013 3:32 PM   in response to: robomatic in response to: robomatic
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I have seen it done before, and as long as it's clear you're describing a movie or other production, there should be no legal problems.
andresanthomas

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Re: Quoting a movie in my planned book, not sure what I can legally do?
Posted: Aug 6, 2013 4:41 PM   in response to: robomatic in response to: robomatic
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The short and sweet answer is don't do it. It is way more trouble and expense than it is worth.
booknookbiz

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Registered: 03/04/10
Re: Quoting a movie in my planned book, not sure what I can legally do?
Posted: Aug 6, 2013 5:04 PM   in response to: robomatic in response to: robomatic
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Robomatic:

Seriously, you should check out what is termed "Fair Use Doctrine." It will lay out, pretty specifically, what does and does not constitute, "Fair Use." If you were writing a satire of the movie, you could use bits of it. If you were writing an editorial piece, you could, within very narrow strictures, quote from it. BUT, I do not think that what could be called "an homage" would fall under that category. If you used the movie's name, and then merely described a scene, e.g., "Do you remember that scene in 'When Harry Met Sally,' in the diner?," that's legal. But quoting dialogue from the movie extensively really isn't. It's likely that anyone who has done so--again, extensively, has sought and received permission to do so. If you're planning on quoting,say, 5 lines of dialogue in a 100K-word novel, you're probably fine. If you're planning on starting each chapter with a paragraph from a specific movie, you are probably starting to edge toward, "not okay." As in many things...all things in proportion. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.

Not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I have decades of experience in court cases (mostly civil, but so is copyright infringement) from my previous corporate life. Hope this is helpful.

Hitch
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cdalebrittain

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Re: Quoting a movie in my planned book, not sure what I can legally do?
Posted: Aug 6, 2013 5:57 PM   in response to: robomatic in response to: robomatic
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As Hitch says, you could get yourself into a heap of trouble. High-powered Hollywood entertainment lawyers don't mess around when it comes to copyright. And scripts are copyrighted.

But why just piggyback your own story off a movie? "My life was just like When Harry Met Sally" is actually not that interesting. If it's your life, it ought to have more going for it than being like a fictional hour and a half drama. I'd recommend giving your own story the focus--though you can always comment at some point that it's funny how your life has parallels with movie XYZ.
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