Spoofs, Homages or Just Plain Thievery?



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  • Spoofs, Homages or Just Plain Thievery?

    I have a number of scenes that poke fun at popular films. Do I need permission first or do I just throw caution to the wind?

  • #2
    satire is protected.


    • #3
      If not, then Neil Simon owes a crap load of money for "Murder by Death".


      • #4
        Making fun of a movie is legal, but stealing from one is not. However, nobody seems to give a hell if you do steal from another film. If they did, tarantino would have been executed several dozen times already. Reservoir Dogs is pretty much the same as City on Fire. The third act of each film is almost identical, sometimes even shot for shot.


        • #5
          Everything in fiction has already been done. What the world hasn't seen is your own voice in the content of your piece.


          • #6
            "Lesser talent borrows; genius steals."

            Notice that I give no credit to the original author, and no, it wasn't Quentin Tarantino.


            • #7


              • #8
                Everything in fiction has already been done
                That doesn't mean you have to be blatantly unoriginal. There's nothing new under the sun is no excuse for not making up something on your own, or at least trying to.

                There is no artistic merit in stealing.


                • #9
                  What about borrowing without asking?


                  • #10
                    If Van Halen didn't steal from the Beatles, and the Beatles didn't steal from Muddy Waters, the world would be a less interesting place.

                    If Shakespeare didn't steal from Ovid, Plutarch, Marlowe, and many others, we would not have his ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, nor his JULIUS CAESAR, nor many of his other brilliant plays and sonnets.

                    How many versions of the Faust legend have there been?

                    Is MAN OF LA MANCHA a rip-off of DON QUIXOTE? Of course it is. How about MY FAIR LADY being a rip-off of Shaw's PYGMALION, which was itself a rip-off of Ovid's Pygmalion? Yes, and yes.

                    Did John Carpenter rip-off THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD when he made THE THING? Yes, and he did so legally as it was a remake.

                    Is homage just a rip-off? Did George Lucas and Steven Spielberg rip-off the 1950 serial OF KING SOLOMAN'S MINES to make RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, or was it just homage?

                    Where does one draw the line at homage, inspiration, or theft?

                    A lot of this is just semantics, but there is a substantial body of copyright law in this country and internationally than can make even a lawyer's head spin.

                    The original question was about whether or not it okay to spoof scenes from other movies. The answer is, as someone else quite rightly pointed out, yes. Satire is protected under copyright law.

                    What you can't do is lift something from a copyrighted work without changing it, unless you have obtained the rights to do so. For example, you can show a clip of a Warner Bros. cartoon in your Universal picture, but you have to obtain the rights to do so and you have to pay a fee to do so, a license. Ditto for music sampling.

                    Works in the public domain are open season. You want to adapt a new version of FRANKENSTEIN, thereby stealing the original work, go right ahead.

                    Guess again if you want to remake CLOCKWORK ORANGE, unless you've legally obtained the rights to do so...as it ain't in the public domain because the copyright has not lapsed. However, if you want to put a bowler hat and a white jumpsuit on your protagonist and have him talking about his "brothers" and "little sisters" and doing a bit of "the old in-out," feel free to do so.

                    People steal all the time, and they don't always know that they're doing so. Sometimes things just bubble up from the sub-conscious...and though they may be in a new form, some astute observer will notice.

                    There really isn't anything all that new under the sun, storywise, if at all. What is new is HOW you tell your story. Thank God for Shakespeare, who...as much as he stole from other writer's and their previous works, has stood the test of time. Who says crime doesn't pay?


                    • #11
                      Exactly. KUROSAWA's creative genius can be called 'original,' but we know his influence came from Shakespeare.....its the trickle effect.

                      Too 'original' is too risky I think in most cases. I've seen a bunch of real crappy 'original' movies in the Indie market, you put your name out there......it could be risky to strive to be too unique.

                      After all....we're all products of the past.