The first questions you may ask are what are they? Secondly, can I be sued for libel, defamation and copyright infringement? Thirdly, what do the last three terms mean. And fourthly, how do they affect my screenwriting?
Let’s break this down.
This is a form of imitation purposely designed to make fun of a person, place or some other target. Entertainment lawyer Gordon Firemark argues that under America’s First Amendment protecting free speech, parody is protected under copyright law. This does not give license to writers to copy without restriction or recourse. Parody is also protected under a “fair use” policy whereby writers can only use the minimum amount of the original work to mock, lampoon or otherwise belittle in a humorous way.
This form of imitation is deliberately nastier, designed to ridicule, embarrass and criticize an underlying work with the aim of making a social comment and forcing us to better ourselves. It is also expressed comedically by exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy and innuendo.
Is the expression of untruths about an individual designed to harm the reputation of an individual.
Is the tangible, recordable (fixed) expression via written word, broadcast and images of defamatory remarks.
Is the transitory (unfixed) expression of defamatory remarks, usually via speech.
So go forth and write, but don’t get sued!
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