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Topic: a problem with a play

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brandonbwii

1. Posted:

I strive to be a playwright. It's something I wanted to do for years. A play I'm currently working on involves a variety of fairy tales and I want to know the legal situation involving using a few of them. Particularly Cinderella. Since the play is a parody of sorts do I get a free pass, for a 10-15 minute piece involving her, or will I have to pay some sort of royalty for merely using her as a character?

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grenworthshero

2. Posted:

Cinderella is a fairy tale; no one owns the rights to it. You can do what you wish with the story, as many, many others have done before. Unless, of course you are specifically referencing things exclusive to the Disney version (or someone else's version)

Edited on by grenworthshero

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brandonbwii

3. Posted:

Thanks for the info, what about Little Mermaid? Would that be considered too Disney?

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zane

4. Posted:

Hc Andersen from Denmark wrote that one and it has no rights any longer so feel free, remember that Sebastian the crab and a lot of the stuff in the movie is made by Disney. Keep up the good work...

Edited on by zane

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brandonbwii

5. Posted:

Thanks for the kind words zane. I was just asking but I ended up cutting the little mermaid part out anyway (she even had a crab for a sidekick). I didn't want ANY kind of trouble there. Cinderella was the most important because without her, I'd have to do a complete rewrite. I'm mostly finished. I'm currently just trying to get basic feedback. I can't wait until this project is finished as I have plenty of ideas that should involve far fewer legal issues.

Edited on by brandonbwii

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The_Fox

6. Posted:

Is this a play you're looking to do for your local play company or school? Or something broader? If you're just dealing with something small scale you really don't have much to worry about (unless it takes off, of course).

Edited on by The_Fox

"The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

-President John Adams

Treaty of Tripoly, article 11

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the_shpydar

7. Posted:

Most of the "Disney" fairy tales are public domain, at least their original forms. As mentioned, the additions that Disney has made which have now become common parts of the fairy tales (eg, the names of the dwarves in Snow White) are protected.

That being said, parodies can get around many issues even if using copyrighted material as a basis, but are not afforded total free passes.

And like The Fox said, there shouldn't be any issues for a small production, especially if it's not for profit as it would raise no concerns with Disney legal, unless of course it either gained significant popularity (thus signifying a potential avenue of income for them) or if they felt it "disrespected" any of their characters (they hate that).

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brandonbwii

8. Posted:

The play is planned to be local to start with as well as profit driven. The reason for questions and feedback is to push myself. While it will start local there is always the possibility it will go bigger. I've studied and majored in theatre for a long time. Legal issues as well as copywrighting is still new to me. That's why I'm merely asking questions and being very cautious of what I say.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

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brandonbwii

9. Posted:

Hey guys, I decided to keep the little mermaid references. It was way too much of a pain to rewrite. Her companions have changed though. The story is supposed to be something for the entire family. Jokes and themes that only adults may understand but charaters lovable by all in the best pixar movie tradition. So if you have any insight or recommendations for dialog and such (with what little you know) as well as questions, I'll be glad to answer them. Thanks for your awnsers guys. It will end up helping me a great deal in the near future.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

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The_Fox

10. Posted:

So, call me curious but do you have a title for your play yet?

"The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

-President John Adams

Treaty of Tripoly, article 11

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brandonbwii

11. Posted:

@the fox
Funny thing, I do have a name for it. Originally I had a work-in-progress name that I told a "friend". Much to my dismay, she recommended the title to someone else, a friend of hers who used it for her play. I do have a new title though. It's a secret to everybody. :D

Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

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Philip_J_Reed

12. Posted:

You may want to do some research into Fair Use. Without seeing your script I can't tell you how much is covered under fair use and how much wouldn't be. But typically, you're allowed to use elements from copyrighted work as long as your usage is clearly demonstrable as parodic, or is altered enough from the source material that no reasonable audience member would mistake it for being the source material.

This is why you couldn't write a 5-minute Superman episode in which he flies up and saves the world by knocking a meteor back into space, but you would be able to write a 5-minute comedy sketch about Superman dressing up as a lady and trying to seduce Jimmy Olsen.

But as has been mentioned, these fairy-tales are public domain by this point, meaning you can do whatever you want with them, right down to a straight adaptation. If you intend to incorporate anything that Disney or other large productions have used in the past (cute animal sidekicks, musical numbers, etc.) you'll want to think twice, and research Fair Use to make sure your usage is actually...well...fair.

Hope this helps.

Edited on by Philip_J_Reed

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