Contest Rule Question



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  • Contest Rule Question

    So the rule states:

    "Submissions must be an original work of the applicant and not based, in whole or part, on another authorâ€TMs work."

    I recently finished my screenplay and want to enter this contest. The thing is, when I finished the first draft, a friend of mine pointed out some similarities between my script and a short story by Edgar Allen Poe.

    These similarities are:

    A man kills a woman and an animal (in the Poe story it is his wife and their cat, in mine it is a woman he wants to date and her dog)

    The victims (a woman and an animal) of a killer are buried in a wall. In the Poe story it is in the basement wall, in mine the first floor wall. In both cases they are discovered by the police.

    In both stories, the killer has a dream that his house is burning down and the smoke spells out "murderer."

    Oh, and in both stories, the man goes CRAZY!!

    That's it. However, I did name my character Eddie A. Pope (After Edgar Allen Poe) and set the story in Baltimore after these similarites were pointed out to me and when I registered it, I gave it a "loosely based on" credit.

    Knowing this information, do you think that I can still enter this contest with what I already have written (I've done four drafts), or do you think I should just change a couple of things-- name, location, dream sequence and where he buries the victims-- and it would be cool, or should I just not enter?

    Thanks for your help


  • #2
    don't worry about it

    if you want to make a couple small changes to ease your conscience, then do it, but in the grand scheme of things such similarities can be attributed to "inspiration" - unless of course you did rip off poe on purpose, but even then it's unlikely the contest readers will catch it.

    and my gut feeling is that you should cut the dream sequence anyway - no reason - just intuition


    • #3
      From my experience, killing a woman you want to date just makes the prospect that much more unlikely.


      • #4
        If you state that your script was based (loosely or not) on an existing work, then it is an adaptation.

        You can alter names and such, but that won't change what you know about the origins of your script.


        • #5
          Okay, I can understand if you set out for it to be based on something, which I didn't, that would make it an adaptation. However, it wasn't until my friend pointed out the similarities that I decided to give it a "loosely based on" credit when I registered it. I felt, at the time, that by doing this, it would save my ass if I ever sold it (which I'm starting to realize might not have been in my best interest).

          I was never inspired or intended my screenplay to be anything like this story, it just happened, and now I want to know if because I said that it was loosely based on it, if that now prohibits me from turning around and saying that it is wholly original, since at the time that I wrote it, beginning to end, I was under the impression that it was.


          • #6
            Technically, it does exactly the opposite of saving your ass --it indicates that you knowingly used material which you did not own. It's not like footnoting in an acedemic setting, where if you ackowledge it, you're okay. It is more akin to admiting you used something you had no right to use.


            • #7
              I'm somewhat sympathetic, because from what you've said, you did not steal anyone's material and you had no ill intent in your subsequent misdoings. But it seems you may have really dug yourself a hole here. It was simply illogical to have claimed, however innocently, that your story is loosely based on other material when it wasn't and you didn't. Your problem may have grown into something greater than a simple DQ from contests. Hard to say whether you should consult an intellectual property or entertainment attorney, since most scripts don't go anywhere anyway. But if this script's ever going to see the light of day, I suspect you'll need legal advice. Good luck with it.


              • #8
                I don't think the similarities are too much. Poe himself buried people in walls in more than one story.

                My advice is to change back the name and get rid of the "loosely based" credit. It's your story. Unintended similarities count for nothing.

                Unless there's a cat on her head.



                • #9
                  After changing it..I would then beat the hell out of your friend...for trying to be "helpfull"

                  I hate people like this.