View Full Version : Putting a quote in your screenplay

02-05-2014, 01:39 PM
Quick question guys. I am working on my first feature length screenplay. I wanted to use a quote from a book "West with the Night" its an autobiography first published in the 40's. I wanted to use a quote from the book as a piece of dialogue, just parting words between two characters. It doesn't play a major part in the story, so if need be I can scratch it. But my question. Do I need to get rights and permission for such a small quote? I initially thought play it safe and emailed the publisher filling out the proper forms, but got the run around and eventually was told that Time Warner, has the film rights for that piece. Does that mean I should back off or does it not matter? I'm just quoting the literature, not making a film about it. Any advice would be helpful thanks guys.

02-05-2014, 01:50 PM
You really only have three options:

1. Hire an attorney to help determine risk assessment.
2. Hire an attorney to help you get permission.
3. Go ahead and use the material without permission and take a chance.

Mine is NOT legal advice in any way. It is always recommended one seek the advice of an attorney before making any decision of this type.

02-05-2014, 02:08 PM
Thanks for the advice HPG, yea I'm not planning on producing the script in the immediate future, and am working off a version w/o the quote for now. I was just more so looking for someone who's dealt with a similar situation, and if the hassle is even worth the time and money. I know the answer to my questions are probably the fact that I can deal without having it in there, but I just kinda fell in love with the quote.

Tim Hole
02-06-2014, 02:38 AM
Quoting a few lines from a text is not considered a breach of copyright, at least not in the UK. Haven't looked for anything specific for Us market though. Here is a quote the BBC clearance guidelines:

"So, in the case of a film it is likely to be breach of copyright if an actor is reciting sections of text or script from a book or other film but a few words from the original work will not be seen as a breach."