My movie has main characters who love movies and, at last count, reference over fifty films and watch nearly a dozen. You addressed the need to get permission during filming and encouraged us the aspiring to just go wild during the writing process, but what about in the copyrighting process? Should I get the permission of the producers of, for instance, THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, if I write that it’s playing in the background of the scene or of PHOENIX if my characters refer to it in conversation, even though they refer to it in a nice, non-slanderous way.
–Josh M. Nileski
I fall back on my standard advice of Just Don’t Worry About It.
If you’re excerpting whole scenes of THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, then there would obviously be legal issues, since you can’t copyright something that’s already copyrighted. But it’s not like there’s somebody at the Library of Congress who’s going to read your script and press the emergency copyright infringement alarm.
As far as referring to other movies, Josh, this is America. If you want your characters to say that TOWN AND COUNTRY was a boring, unfunny disaster, they can. (By the way, it was. I like and respect pretty much everyone involved in that movie, but what the hell happened?)