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ChatGPT Prompt: Write a 250-word blog on how copyright applies to movies loosely based on books.

“In the world of cinema, books have long been a source of inspiration for filmmakers seeking compelling stories and characters to bring to life on the big screen. These adaptations, often loosely based on their literary counterparts, raise intriguing questions about copyright and intellectual property. Let’s explore how copyright applies in movies loosely based on books.

When filmmakers decide to adapt a book into a movie, they often secure the rights to the source material. This process typically involves negotiations with the author or their estate, granting the filmmakers permission to use the book’s content in a new medium. These agreements determine the extent to which the book’s content can be adapted, ensuring that the rights of the original creator are respected.

In loosely based adaptations, filmmakers may take creative liberties, altering characters, plotlines, and settings. Copyright law generally allows such changes as long as they do not infringe on the original work’s protected elements. However, there’s a fine line between creative interpretation and infringement. Filmmakers must be cautious not to copy or closely mimic protected elements of the book, as this could lead to legal complications.

It’s important to note that copyright law protects the specific expression of ideas in a book, not the ideas themselves. As a result, filmmakers can draw inspiration from a book’s general concept or themes without violating copyright. This flexibility allows for a wide range of interpretations and adaptations.

In conclusion, copyright in movies loosely based on books is a complex and nuanced issue. Filmmakers must navigate the rights and permissions associated with the source material while striking a balance between creative interpretation and legal compliance. When done correctly, these adaptations can bring fresh perspectives and creativity to beloved stories, enhancing the cinematic experience for audiences worldwide.”

My Response:

I asked ChatGPT to write about copyright law talking specifically to the article “To Cite or to Steal? When a Scholarly Project Turns Up in a Gallery” that Ferguson wrote. However, it was clear from reading its post that it was not quite sure what the article was about. It took the title and based the entire article off that. Instead, I asked it about book-movie adaptations because of what I will discuss further on in my response.

One of the things that bothered me the most about what the gallerist said in her email to Ferguson was that “if Shulman’s work was created in a “different way” than [his], then it would not violate copyright.” So, what about the companies that take products and reverse engineer them to create the same product. They got there in a different way than the original designer, but that doesn’t make them any less of a rip-off of the original item. It is still stealing the idea, no matter how “differently” they designed it. Because Shulman is so secretive about how he creates his images, it is hard to believe that he didn’t just take Ferguson’s steps and change the saturation, etc. Part of me wonders how this would actually be judged in a copyright lawsuit.

The other thing that really bothered me was something that Ferguson’s lawyer said: “it would be a very expensive case without any real financial reward, and that the gallery likely knew that and would just do whatever they wanted to anyway.” This reminded me of a story that my aunt told me about Disney ripping off an author’s work without paying her. Janette Rallison pitched her book series My Fair Godmother to Disney, and they turned her story down. Instead, they came out with Godmothered in 2020. I haven’t seen the film, but Janette Rallison wrote a blog post about all of the similarities between her books and the movies ( The movie isn’t exactly the same, but now, the author won’t be able to take her books to any other producers and get a movie deal because it will look like it is copying the Godmothered movie. My aunt said that Rallison isn’t planning on suing Disney because it would be a lot of money, and I am sure that Disney has really good lawyers and can afford to pay them a lot more, but I would be interested to see who won the lawsuit if she did. Maybe it was just a remix, but maybe Disney knows that others are unlikely to suit them, just like the gallerist in Ferguson’s article.


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