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Is the following scenario copyright infringment?

  1. M. T. Dremer profile image92
    M. T. Dremerposted 5 years ago

    Lets say I take a small section of a chapter in a novel and I re-write it, keeping only the dialogue and the character's names the same. Does it infringe on the copyright of that novel if I were to post my re-written version on HubPages? I would give the original author (and novel) full credit, and the only part of their original text that is the same is the dialogue (and it is a very small excerpt from the novel; about three pages).

    I had originally intended to use stories only with expired copyrights, but the original prompt that had started the idea used a book that was still active. I'm asking because I know that you can post quotes from a novel, as long as it is cited, but I'm not sure if using the same dialogue for my own story would be copyright infringement, even with a citation. Also, I'm not selling the piece; HubPages generates money off of advertisements. But I'm not sure if that's a loophole I want to exploit.

    1. White Teeth profile image60
      White Teethposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      If not, it is probably still too close to where it is not worth the hassle (if I was on a jury I would probably say that 3 pages of dialogue seems too much to be fair use). There also might be trademark issues as well as copyright issues.

    2. recommend1 profile image71
      recommend1posted 5 years ago in reply to this

      To copy something 'into' your story as though you have written it, even though you 'cite' the owner is infringing copyright.

      If an ad appears on your stuff from anywhere - then you are selling the work, it is 'commercial'.

      More than the technical or legal side of it - it is clearly stealing and even a lttle distasteful, like ripping the skeleton out of somebody els's child and putting your own flabby flesh on it, a kind of Frankenstein making a baby monster.

      1. M. T. Dremer profile image92
        M. T. Dremerposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Wow, that is a really gruesome visual. I understand what you're saying for your first two points, but I would argue that such an exercise is not distasteful. If I was perverting the characters; making them pick their noses and hit their heads with a frying pan, then yeah, it would be disrespectful. But I didn't approach the prompt like a parody, but rather a re-imagining (it's not even the same genre anymore) one that treated the characters with as much respect as they had in the original version.

        I'm not going to post it, based on the comments here, but if I was a published author and I saw someone using an excerpt of my story in such a way, I would be flattered that they were inspired by my writing and liked it enough to want to work with it (kind of like fan fiction). And, as long as they were giving me credit for the original dialogue, it would be like a free advertisement for my book.

        1. recommend1 profile image71
          recommend1posted 5 years ago in reply to this

          I can't agree at all - as Maddie points out the letter of hte law is 'substantially the same' well - who are you to decide what ti sthe substance of their story - maybe the whole story is just the frame for the conversation you want to 'borrow' - a bit like the series 'Friends' most of the set piece scenario's - such as the coffee shop are always the same - they are just to showpiece the dialogue.

          I may have been a little harsh in my firs treply but I was trying for effect, you can have the baby skeleton metaphor as a gift to include in your writing if you like, but I retain the rights to the flabby flesh of your imagination' - ok  big_smile

          1. M. T. Dremer profile image92
            M. T. Dremerposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            It's clear to me, based on the responses here, that posting the piece would be copyright infringement. I'm not arguing that. I asked if it was, everyone said yes, so I'm not going to post it. I was simply trying to point out that the exercise of using a different story's dialogue is a valid writing technique, not a perversion of the original work. It may not be legal to post/publish it, but that doesn't mean you can't do it for your own enjoyment, or with public domain material. The reader is always the one who determines the substance of a story. Once the author publishes their work; the story takes on a life of its own. They may retain the rights to it legally, but everyone who reads it can interpret it any way they want without influencing what is printed on the page.

            1. Maddie Ruud profile image81
              Maddie Ruudposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              Oh, it's absolutely a valid writing exercise!  It's a great tool to use when you've got bad writer's block, to get the creative juices flowing.

  2. Shadesbreath profile image89
    Shadesbreathposted 5 years ago

    Here's the copyright office page on Fair Use.


  3. Maddie Ruud profile image81
    Maddie Ruudposted 5 years ago

    "Substantial similarity" or closely paraphrased re-writes are still copyright infringement.

  4. Rusty C. Adore profile image83
    Rusty C. Adoreposted 5 years ago

    I think it is definitely a great writing tool. I'm part of a writing group and we had a guy do something similiar to this with a romance novel. It was really cool to see how he was able to create a whole different atmosphere for the story, yet keep the same dialogue. This is actually an exercise that my writing profs at my university used to have us try.

    As for the copyright infringement, I couldn't really say... but better to be safe than sorry, I think. You can do it with author's whose work is public domain (like Jane Austen, Twain, Shakespeare, Stevenson.)

    Hell, Seth Grahame-Smith made "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and people ate it up!