Question about 'based on a true' story rights.



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  • Question about 'based on a true' story rights.

    I'm working on a script centered around a NY City Councilman (antag) extorting money from a real estate developer (protag) who wants to bring a much-needed grocery store to a depressed Brooklyn neighborhood but needs the councilman's vote to get approval for converting a building.

    I'm working entirely from extensive newspaper articles (Village Voice, Times, New York Post, etc), some website information and my own personal knowledge of the area. Of course, I'm changing all names, etc.

    Would it be better if I try to get story rights from the protag who dominates the script? And, hopefully, get more inside information from him about how it went down. Or, should I forget that and forge ahead?

    Also, could he, or any other renamed characters, stop me if the script should ever get sold or (gasp) made?

  • #2
    Why not use fictional names and not worry about it? If the story is compelling, then whether or not it's true won't matter.

    It doesn't have to based on any one true story, because these things happen every day across america.


    • #3
      Change the names, and that way you can feel free to fictionalize things to make the narrative more interesting.


      • #4
        Okay, I change the people's names, still, the setting is identifiable. And I can't move the story to another setting, the setting itself is a character. Do I change its name. too?

        Or, can I keep it since the plot points were all in the newspaper articles.


        • #5
          Try There are entertainment lawyers who will answer questions for free or for nominal sums. Strictly speaking, just changing the names wouldn't really protect you if the situation was specific enough that the identities would be clear all the same. However, since you're also going from previously published material, that does add an additional layer of complexity. I'm not sure who sells the rights when someone options a Vanity Fair article, for example. Is it the author or the subject of the piece, or both?

          Like I said, Good resource.


          • #6
            Thanks Pete! Will do.


            • #7
              I would do this.

              "Inspired by true events"
              "Based upon true events"

              Those two phrases don't mean what's coming IS what really happened. You could take five 'true' unrelated events and put them together in one story.

              Mothman is a good example of this. Though the stories involved are somewhat related the timing is way off. In the movie they all happen in a sequence.

              Just a thought.