No! Stop and re-assess. There are at least three options, but simply stealing the plot and characters isn’t one of them.
A reader asks if a planned DVD crosses into dangerous copyright territory.
Screenplays don’t cite references because they don’t quote things.
Yes, you can have characters talk about people like Michael Bay without getting permission.
Cory Doctorow makes many of the points I would about the Authors’ Guild’s grumpiness over the Kindle’s text-to-speech function.
Don’t just think about who “owns” what. There are more practical considerations.
Explorations of ownership in a corporate environment.
Killing backstories, writing out lyrics and why you will always want to be writing something else (amongst other topics), explored.
Steps a publisher can take to offer up properties to moviemakers.
If it’s you and a buddy with a tiny camera, should you really have to register with a governmental agency? I say no.
An episode of Grey’s Anatomy might have the same title as your spec. That’s not even close to being plagiarism.
Easy steps to tracking down rights.
If this sounds like you, stop reading and start dialing. You need a better attorney, stat.
Let’s say you’re at work and you overhear some great dialogue. Should you worry about co-workers suing when they hear it in your movie?
Do you need signed legal permission to use a friend’s name in a script?
Clearing (and not worrying about) brands, artwork and monikers for your movie.
Link to a great legal resource for filmmakers concerned with portraying reality.
How to deal when your situations and characters are based on real incidents and people.
Legal and moral issues arise when taking someone else’s story, even just pieces of it.
Link to a great book to ease your fears of getting permissions to copyrighted material.
Options; defined and explained.
Using unlicensed material can be okay at the festival level. The trouble comes when you make money off of it.
What is the average option price short stories are optioned for? Just to get an estimate of what I should be offering/accepting. Where else can I do research about these confidential matters?
If there’s a book you can’t afford to option yourself, it’s worth trying to get someone to option it for you.
Having the rights shouldn’t necessarily be your first concern.