How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Roger Your Own Question

Roger
Roger, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26626
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
6704987
Type Your Intellectual Property Law Question Here...
Roger is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Im writing a work of fiction, set in the 12th century. It

Resolved Question:

I'm writing a work of fiction, set in the 12th century. It is a fairy tale that's very funny and more for adults than children. There is nothing sexual in it, it's just a little raw at times. In one of the sections I mention King Todd (one of the characters) "kicking it up with Better Midler and Boutros Boutros Ghali. Prince Harry is one of the characters in the book as well, but there could have been a couple dozen Prince Harrys back in the 12th century. Am I treading on dangerous ground, or does the fact that it's a work of fiction make it OK. I have a disclaimer at the front of the book but I'm not sure of the legal weight of disclaimers. Please advise and thank you!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm an Intellectual Property litigation attorney. Thanks for your question.

 

What you're doing in your fictional book would likely be considered a parody.

 

Generally, a parody can be considered a derivative work under Copyright Law and can be protected from claims by the copyright owner of the original work under the fair use doctrine, which is codified in 17 U.S.C. § 107. Thus, you should be ok there.

 

Also, because you're not using specific names, it would be very hard for any public figure or celebrity to claim that you were profiting off of their image.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

There's a typo above in my original question. I did use the name Bette Midler, not Better Midler as is written above. Boutros Boutros Ghali is also used. Does your answer still apply, parody-wise?

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Yes - - these celebrities don't have an exclusive use or ownership of these names. It is entirely possible that there are more than one Bette Midler, Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, etc. in the world.

However, you don't want to make the character exactly like the real/famous person for a reader to think that you're specifically using a person's celebrity to profit. That's where you can get into an issue. If a celebrity thinks you're using his/her image to profit, you can be sued.

If it is a parody of the famous person, it's generally ok.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

OK, then perhaps a slight change of name for Bette Midler, to maybe Brett Midler. BB Ghali I'm willing to risk keeping that as is. But I have one more question and can send another deposit. I am using the Good Witch Gilda as a character. In the Wizard of Oz it was the Good Witch Glinda. My story is about two princesses from a dysfunctional family. This is one of the ending paragraphs -


 


"Now where were we? Oh yes...So the good witch Gilda gave Dottie a slap in the kisser and said, "SNAP OUT OF IT! You're daydreaming again and this is how you got in this mess to begin with. So which is it, Texas or Kansas?" Just then, the Great and Powerful Wizard, looking much like the delightful and virile Todd from Dottie’s dream, trotted past the terminally short village people..."




Obviously the reference to the Great and Powerful Wizard might need to be changed I'm thinking. Any thoughts the similarities to the Wizard of Oz. Parody-wise I think I'm OK. But I'm sure MGM has a lot of lawyers on staff.

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Yes, MGM has a fleet of high-priced attorneys, and even if you may have a legal claim to keep your information as is, you can be brow-beaten with a lawsuit which would cost you a lot of money to defend.....and even if you win, you'll have a huge attorney fee to contend with.

Thus, it's usually better to try and differentiate your language, imagery and descriptive terms to prevent a challenge. So, changing the adjectives about the wizard is probably a good idea!

Roger, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 26626
Experience: BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
Roger and 3 other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Alex Reese

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    2588
    Experienced in intellectual property law
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/sosolid007/2010-08-05_070536_Suitpic.jpg Alex Reese's Avatar

    Alex Reese

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    2588
    Experienced in intellectual property law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/scottymacesq/2009-6-10_221523_small.jpg Robert McEwen, Esq.'s Avatar

    Robert McEwen, Esq.

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    387
    Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/tswartz123/2010-02-08_225658_Tommy.jpg Thomas Swartz's Avatar

    Thomas Swartz

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    374
    Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    371
    I assist my clients with IP questions that arise in their daily course of doing business.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/personwilt/2010-1-10_164828_person1.jpg Wilton A. Person's Avatar

    Wilton A. Person

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    339
    MBA, Experienced and Knowledgeable in Intellectual Property Law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/BA/bart0358/2012-1-23_232424_1056.64x64.JPG BartEsq's Avatar

    BartEsq

    Researcher

    Satisfied Customers:

    192
    Juris Doctor
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IP/ipesq/2012-1-9_164431_RetouchPortraitHighResCopy.64x64.jpg ipesq's Avatar

    ipesq

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    134
    Specializing in patent prosecution, trademark and copyright registration/enforcement.
 
 
 

Related Intellectual Property Law Questions