Los Angeles, CA asked in Copyright and Entertainment / Sports for California

Q: I'm making an independent feature film and in the script I verbally reference work by other people.

Do I need to obtain clearance if the work is mentioned verbally and not actually seen on screen?. For example, if I have a line from a popular musical. Another example would be if I just mention a Television channel, like National Geographic?

1 Lawyer Answer
Robert Philip Cogan
Robert Philip Cogan
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • San Diego, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The copyright statute covers the form of expression in the work and not the ideas in it. Factual reference to an item is usually not infringement. However, it is difficult to tell what you mean by "verbally reference." Are you referring to the mention of a painting or are you repeating lyrics intact? Legal conclusions often cannot based on an unknown set of facts.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.