March 29, 2001
NEW ARTICLE: SELF DEFENSE FOR SCREENWRITERS
As an entertainment attorney I am often called upon to assist writers who have gotten themselves into trouble because they don’t understand how their work infringes the rights of others. A writer who learns the fine points of the law through trial and error is receiving an expensive education. I have written an article that was recently published by Screentalk Magazine (www.screentalk.org) and is now posted on my website.
TROUBLE FROM PEOPLE PORTRAYED IN YOUR WORK
I. FICTIONAL CHARACTERS
If your script or film contains fictional characters -- characters from your imagination -- you generally do not need to obtain any permissions or releases. However, if there is a chance that the public could mistake your imaginary characters for real people, you could be liable if you have thereby infringed their rights.
You can protect yourself by making sure your fictional characters cannot be mistaken for real people. Give characters unusual names that no living individual would have. Check the phone book to see if any people with your character’s name reside at the location portrayed in your story. If there is a person in that community with the same name or a similar one, consider changing the locale or setting the story in a fictional locale. Add a disclaimer at the beginning of the film stating that any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
To read the rest of the article go to: www.marklitwak.com