I went over most of this ground on the MobileRead forum
, regarding a project I had last year for publishing Trek fan fiction as eBooks.
I think the ethical question here is the same as with fan productions in general, are you copying the original or are you making an unauthorised derivative work from it?
If I took a copy of "The Trouble With Tribbles" and tried to sell it as something I had produced I would get the pants sued off'n me by CBS/Paramount and rightly so. Illegal copying and sale is a multimillion-dollar cottage industry and if you buy a bootleg copy of a movie you're not a fan you're a damn fool. The bottom line is that if Paramount doesn't get a fair return for their investment there be no more Trek movies.
If I took the script of "The Trouble With Tribbles" and tried to palm it off as something I had written I would get the pants sued off'n me by the show's author, David Gerrold and rightly so. Plagiarism is a sin for which you will go to a special pugatory where imps will make fun of your lack of creativity for the rest of eternity!
However if I made a Star Trek parody called "A Dribble of Troubles" (Dibs on that title!
) that is full of original barbed wit and humour, not only will you be protected by US law as a satire but you can take pride in the original work that you have done and preface your work by saying "The author reserves the right to be identified as such for all original material in this script. All references to Star Trek are the copyright of ... yadda, yadda, yadda"
It would take a particularly brave person to try to market the finished satire/parody, although Star Wreck has indeed walked that fine line, and personally I would settle for the indirect rewards of the raising of your stock as a writer. If you have a wildly popular fan work behind your belt people are more likely to look at your subsequent original work, maybe even at the Cannes festival
However you're talking about incidental music aren't you? That, my friend, is a different kettle of fish.
The music industry is split over what some
see as the possible drift into copyright anarchy that not protecting copyright tooth-and-nail could entail. Some
point out that it could lead to new ways of raising revenue and isn't all black. YouTube
has thrown in the towel and is policing music videos now but this is probably because people have been accessing them as a type of video jukebox
for the music rather than the producer's video.
The difference here is that you will be using theme music that is probably
the copyright of the TV company that made Time Tunnel (guessing here) so they will probably
view your use of the music in the same way they view your use of the plot / names / placenames etc. This usually means that if you create something that they see as good publicity or even neutral publicity they'll turn a blind eye knowing that they can close you down at any time if they so desire.
If on the other hand the theme music is the copyright of one of the major record labels you could be up the proverbial creek because in some cases (I've known it to happen) they will send you a C&D just as a matter of policy.
All I can suggest is ...
- Do your homework: who is the copyright owner of the music?
- Don't play the full clip
- Overlay the clip with speech so that it is useless to a video jukebox
- clearly show that you don't own the copyright and flag who it does belong to
- It wouldn't hurt to hyperlink this to a site that legally sells the music and encourage listener's to buy it as a sign that they would support more of the show, Time Tunnel, this could be linked with a general hope expressed that they will resurrect the series. It'll almost certainly never happen but this will show exactly where you stand as a fan ... and if you're not a fan, why are you doing it?
Copyright: Can't live with it and can't live without it!