The Ridiculousness Of Copyright Clearances: Fight Club Producers Had To Pay Off Marla Singer?
from the the-first-rule-of-copyright-clearance:-you-don't-talk-about-copyright-cleara dept
Last August, we wrote about the sheer insanity that movie makers need to go through to make sure no “unauthorized” brands appear in a movie. The process of clearing every single right is mind-boggling, and appears to serve only one purpose: to transfer money from creators to lawyers. I’m reminded of the massive spreadsheet Brett Gaylor showed when he discussed his movie, and the process of trying to secure insurance for it. It went on and on and on and listed every single thing in the movie, and whether it was cleared or not. The more you learn about this stuff, the more ridiculous it seems.
Ry Jones writes in to let us know that he transcribed a part of the Fight Club Director’s commentary by David Fincher, where he discusses the insanity of rights clearance for that movie. He mainly discusses two key points, both of which seem ridiculous. First, with the character of Marla Singer, they had to do a search and find out if there are real Marla Singers who might be upset and claim that the movie is about them. If there are lots of Marla Singers, no problem, since they can just say “hey, not you.” But if there’s one, then it becomes an issue. Guess what?
There’s only one Marla Singer in the continental United States, in Illinois somewhere, of course, as soon as attorneys get involved, the whole thing gets completely fucked up. Somebody called her and told her there’s this book, and we’re making a movie based on this character that had her name. All of a sudden, her attorneys are calling and we have to pay this person off.
On top of that, they had wanted to base the movie in Wilmington, Delaware, which is where the book takes place. But, apparently, that would require all sorts of rights clearances as well, to the point that they weren’t even able to show the Delaware state flag because it would require a new set of rights clearances. How does this make any sense at all? Unlike the Aboriginal flag of Australia, the state flag of Delaware certainly should not be covered by copyright, and it makes little sense that there would be any requirement at all for clearing the rights. If the book can take place in Wilmington, Delaware without rights clearances, why can’t a movie?