Monday, June 23, 2014

Can We Use "Twilight Zone" Intro?

Dear Rich: I want to do a parody of the Twilight Zone, not mentioning Twilight Zone but have a Rod Serling imitator say the text. Can I lift direct script from the show, word for word? If I do, do I have to give credit? When is a script not copyrightable? Also: I love the opening lines of the move Fargo where they display in text: "THIS IS A TRUE STORY. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred."I want to use this as a template for the video, while changing a few words... Is this ok to include, legally if you credit them, or too similar? If you copy the text from either Twilight Zone or Fargo, you're infringing copyright. (Twilight Zone debuted in 1959 and is still copyright-protected.) Attribution -- giving credit to the authors -- won't help your situation. However, if you're just borrowing the intros, for a transformative parody purpose, you're likely to be excused under fair use principles. We would go into a deeper fair use analysis but we feel like we've said it all here.