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   Can I use the Idea of a famous movie
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   Author  Topic: Can I use the Idea of a famous movie  (Read 2069 times)
Scott West
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Can I use the Idea of a famous movie
« on: May 16th, 2004, 3:24pm »
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  Hello, Can I use the basic idea of a famous movie or sitcom to write a childrens book? For example: Gillians Island instead of Gilligans Island. The characters names would be different like "the Dripper" instead of the skipper, but the idea of being stranded on an island is the same.
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Dave41
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Re: Can I use the Idea of a famous movie
« Reply #1 on: May 17th, 2004, 9:28am »
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Copyright protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. I'm sure there have been many movies or shows about being stranded on an island. Copyright does not give any author ownership of that idea.  
However, copyright infringement can occur if a second work copies the protected work. Courts generally use a substantial similarity test to determine if infringement occurred. Notice the test considers the similarity of the two works rather than the differences in the works. In most instances, copyright infringement can not be avoided by simply changing the names of the characters.
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Scott West
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Re: Can I use the Idea of a famous movie
« Reply #2 on: May 17th, 2004, 12:42pm »
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Thanks Dave41 for responding so quick. Is it possible to use name likeness? I will use the same scenerio. This is just an example: These 7 felines are stranded on an island. their names are: Gillian, Flipper, Binger, CaryAnn,  
Roguefessor, Mr. Powell and his wife. With their names so close to the Gilligan's Island regulars and the setting on an Island. Would I be breaking any copywrite laws or infringement. This would be a childrens book by the way.
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nobody
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Re: Can I use the Idea of a famous movie
« Reply #3 on: May 17th, 2004, 1:00pm »
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My understanding is that stock characters cannot be protected by copyright. However, original characters may be protected as component parts.
 
I definitely wouldn't give the owners any grounds to sue, like copying their plots, scenes, or even copying the "personality" of  the characters.
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M. Arthur Auslander
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Re: Can I use the Idea of a famous movie
« Reply #4 on: May 17th, 2004, 2:05pm »
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Dear Scott West,
 
The way YOU put it looks like high risk. It can safely be done  with Robinson Crusoe.
« Last Edit: May 23rd, 2004, 9:48am by M. Arthur Auslander » IP Logged

M. Arthur Auslander
Auslander & Thomas-Intellectual Property Law
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