Q. I want to write a modern version of an old movie. Should I just worry about writing that script, or are there hurdles like rights?
If all you want to do is steal the concept, you're okay. Copyright does not protect an idea, only an expression of that idea. So if you want to write a movie about a guy who meets the girl of his dreams online, and she's someone he already knows and hates ... you don't need the rights from You've Got Mail
. After all, they stole the idea from The Shop Around the Corner
, where it was the same idea by regular mail.
But if your lonelyhearts are a publisher and a bookstore owner... you're getting into trouble. Sergio Leone should have got the rights to Yojimbo
when he made A Fistful of Dollars
, because the plot is virtually beat for beat the same. I guess copyright in Italy was a tad shakey in those days, and anyway, Yojimbo
was apparently lifted from a Dashiell Hammett story, Red Harvest
Labels: adaptation, rights