Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

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  • Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

    Suppose you have a scene in which two boys pass in the street and one says, "Silver Surfer's crap. If I had a super power, I'd be bad-arse like Magneto."
    The other boy retorts, "So you'd be a villain?"
    To which the first replies, "Not really, I'd just kill anyone who ever messed with me - I've got super powers, what would you do?"

    Is it okay to use these names or is this a question for a solicitor?

    Originally, I used a DC and a Marvel character, but thought that perhaps it could be argued as suggesting one comic universe was superior to the other, thus bringing the heat from the hurt publisher, so opted against it.
    I'd be curious to know though if this is plain paranoia, though the main question is the above.
    Cufk, Tish, Sips.

  • #2
    Re: Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

    From my limited understanding, you should be fine unless magneto shows up and wrecks silver surfer

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    • #3
      Re: Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

      Hmm, that's not a bad idea...


      EDIT: It has been pointed out to me that I made a typo' in the thread's title. Bugger (hopefully it won't scare all you writers away).
      Cufk, Tish, Sips.

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      • #4
        Re: Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

        Both characters are owned by Marvel, so I couldn't imagine there would be a problem.
        "A screenwriter is much like being a fire hydrant with a bunch of dogs lined up around it.- -Frank Miller

        "A real writer doesn't just want to write; a real writer has to write." -Alan Moore

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        • #5
          Re: Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

          Ask Quentin Tarantino. I believe he came up with the dialogue in CRIMSON TIDE about which Silver Surfer was better: Kirby's or Moebius'?

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          • #6
            Re: Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

            This is a complete non-issue. Have them talk away.

            Bear in mind that having characters riff about pop-culture is rarely as engaging for the audience as it is for the writer, but with that caveat, their ability to protect characters doesn't extent to the point of being able to stop you from having characters talk about them.

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            • #7
              Re: Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

              If it's really like your example, then it's probably fine.

              It gets tricky when you "trashcan" something. As long as you skirt the issue the same way you might not libel or slander someone, you'll be fine. You're probably fine no matter what, but there is a gray line...think 2 Live Crew's Luther Skywalker and that kind of thing. If it can damage the trademark yadda yadda yadda there could be a fight and in most cases it's the fight you want to avoid, which is different from determining whether or not it's technically "okay," but your example is waaaaay far away from any kind of legitimate fight.

              Anyway, I'm more concerned that someone around here felt the need to point out that you had a typo in the thread heading.
              On Twitter @DeadManSkipping

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              • #8
                Re: Mentioning fictious, well-known characters in your script

                Okay, I could be wrong about this, but my own research tells me that:

                - depicting a character without authorisation infringes copyright
                - defaming a character may result in a legal issue
                - using copyrighted logos for characters without permission may result in the same problems

                - but having someone in a script merely mention a copyrighted fictitious character is fine. Basically, it's the same as saying a band's name or tossing out a film title; alternatively, I could get away with having somebody mention the word google, for example, in regards to the business and it wouldn't be a problem unless that same character were defaming the company, in which case, unless he was reciting a proven fact/event, would likely result in a libel.

                To nut shell: this appears fine. Thanks to everyone for helping out.
                Cufk, Tish, Sips.

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