Hollywood Doesn't Seem To Have A Problem With Stolen Ideas

from the only-so-many-to-go-around dept

Considering just how loud the MPAA is screaming about how much “piracy” impacts their business, it’s fascinating to read this article in USA Today (found at TechLawAdvisor) about how so many movies these days take ideas from older movies – to the point that you could consider some to be an unofficial remake of another movie. Yet, despite all of this copying, there are almost no lawsuits – even while the MPAA screams about how important “intellectual property” is, they don’t seem to do much to protect it. Of course, it’s pretty standard for Hollywood pitches to simply use other combinations of old movies as shorthand for new movies: “It’s Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman.” In that context, it’s not so weird. But compared to the overall industry denying any plausibility for “derivative works” while thriving off of such works themselves is quite a contrast.

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Comments on “Hollywood Doesn't Seem To Have A Problem With Stolen Ideas”

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Brian Clark (user link) says:

define derivative works

Mike, love the site, but you’re playing a little loosey-goosey with this one. A derivative work is one that uses parts of a previous work, not one that was inspired by the idea. Ideas aren’t copyrightable, which is why one summer you might see two different movies about the earth being saved from asteroids.

Not that Hollywood doesn’t have a disturbing habit of eating their own dead in a creative sense, mind you — that’s a lack of creativity and fear of real creative risks. But it’s hardly derivative work in the legal definition.

Mikester says:


You bring up an interesting point. The lack of real creativity from Hollywood is appalling.
How many movies in a given year are true originial screenplays, i.e. not based on a short story, novel, comic book, TV show/series, sequel, remake of an old movie, etc? I’m guessing the number is in the single digits.
Of course, what we see in the theaters is largely drive by what Hollywood deems as ‘marketable’, but surely that’s no excuse for a constant stream of regurgitation.

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