Q: Poetry inspired by a show, is this a copyright/trademark issue?
I have been writing poetry inspired by a television show and I'm interested in potentially publishing them in a book. I have not used any characters' names but some poems are based on plots or perceptions within the show. I intend to use original artwork and the poems are original. I'm not sure if this would constitute infringement, whether or not I mention the show by name. I dont know if simply disclosing that I do not own the rights to the show or characters is enough if I'm still trying to sell the work.
A: Your question poses an interesting issue concerning the relationship between copyright rights and "fair use", which is a defense that can be raised to the claim of copyright infringement. Your poetry, even if inspired by the TV show, could be viewed as a "transformative" use of the underlying work and therefore a fair use. However, the ultimate test would be resolved in federal court. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides 4 factors a judge can consider when deciding whether a particular infringing use is a fair use.
In summary, the four factors are: (1) the purpose and character of the use; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and the substantialness of the portion taken; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market. A judge would weigh these factors to see on which side of the scale does your use fall. For example: How much of the material from the TV show does your poetry borrow? Will your book of poetry have an economic impact on the show's developers who may want to exploit the characters, etc., in other media beside TV?
This just a partial examination to let you see there is a lot going on and authors can be very jealous of who gets to exploit their copyright rights in a work. It would be best for you to explore this project with local intellectual property counsel before going much further.
Marcos Garciaacosta agrees with this answer
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.