Story Rights Question

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  • Story Rights Question

    I am very intrigued by a story I recently heard of the origin of a town here in the United States back in the mid- to late-1800s. I am particularly interested in the founder and his life story, but as the founder of the town of course his story is intimately entwined with the town's story as well, so I intend to tell both.

    But before I start I am trying to find out if I am free to tell this story, or do I need to try to track down his descendants? Also, because the town still exists today, although very much a different town from its origins, do I need to get permission of any kind from anyone involved with the town/county/state/etc to be able to tell this story?

    Thanks for any help/insight.

  • #2
    Story Rights Question

    No.

    Rights to his story would have died with the town founder, so, unless you drag his descendants into the story, you would not need their permissions. If the story is based upon a book or an article, (which may be copyrighted), you will need the permission of its author; but, if your story is based upon your own research and from several sources, your history does not need any permission from other writers nor the community.
    JEKYLL & CANADA (free .mp4 download @ Vimeo.com)

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    • #3
      Re: Story Rights Question

      Great, I was hoping that was the answer. The story I am interested in is him and the origin of the town, it would not involve his descendants beyond the possibility of scene of his family burying him ... but would not deal with his descendants at all.

      There are two books of interest that I might use for research, but they are both out of print and very difficult to locate. I've found one and know that it is in the public domain, but I haven't tracked down the other so I am not sure.

      The bulk of my research is from newspaper clippings and from a local historian I've found now living in the same town (though it is nothing of the original town created in the story).

      Thanks again

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      • #4
        Re: Story Rights Question

        Just make sure the point of view is yours and not too close to either published sources you're considering reading. Authors are rightly very protective of their material.

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        • #5
          Re: Story Rights Question

          Good point ... the newsclippings and books were written at the time the town originally existed (late 1800s). One of the books was written in 1909 by the town's founder, he died in 1910. That book won't really influence the movie, except to help me understand his mindset at the time of his death.

          I have contacted the historian to get what information he would be willing to part with. But I didn't want to contact him until I found out what grounds I had to work on the story to begin with. If I was going to have to purchase story rights before I could proceed then I would figure all that out before contacting him.

          After hearing here and elsewhere that I should be ok, I proceeded to contact him.

          Thanks again,
          Larry

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          • #6
            Re: Story Rights Question

            Since the town founder died in 1910, you're solid if you use his book. It's out of copyright.

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