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  1. Blazewind
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    Blazewind New Member

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    Novel based on an album, copyright question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Blazewind, Nov 7, 2010.

    For a while now I've been seriously considering the idea of taking the story told within a few closely related music albums, and novelizing it. I've heard that once in a while a music artist will write a song or even an album based on a novel or short story, but what I want to do, (though I've never heard of this being done) is the reverse. I am plotting everything out based on several albums that all tell an on going science fiction type story. I'm sure there are not many musical groups that have done this kind of thing with their music, but I discovered one last year that really could be done justice in novel format, (allowing for creative license and filling in of missing parts of course.)

    I have no idea though about the technicalities of this though. Can such a thing be done? Would copyright laws that protect the albums and the artists mean that novelization is banned? Is this perhaps the sort of thing I could consider writing to or emailing the artist about and asking his permission use the basic concept? Are there other things I need to think about or is this just a weird and silly idea?

    I would be grateful of any advice of knowledge anyone may have on this one. :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ideas are not copyrightable, only the expression of those ideas. Lyricists are particularly possessive about their work, as a rule, so do not quote any lyrics without the written permission of the copyright owner.

    It certainly wouldn't hurt to thank the lyricist(s) for the inspiration for your story in a foreword of a novel.
     
  3. Noya Desherbanté
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    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

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    I don't know if this is 100% relevant, maybe 95%, but just last night I went to see a play called Our House performed by our local youth theatre - basically it was a story, surprisingly like Sliding Doors, woven around Madness songs. And yes, it worked! Sometimes I noticed the requirements of the story took it off on a tangent that made it less relevant to the chosen song, but overall the plot was quite tight to the music. Would you want to novelise the album in the track order? That would work great if you already have a plot woven around it in this way, but as far as I could tell all the Madness songs were in no fixed order, and some were repeated for effect. This was live performance however, but I think if you did it in a novel it would be just as good.

    I don't know about copyright, I'm afraid... I think that Madness or their record label would get a percentage of the revenue... maybe this is the same for a novel?

    You could approach the record company, if it's a fairly obscure band they might entertain the prospect easier than a major label. Good luck, it's a great idea! :)
     
  4. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that ideas aren't copyrightable, but every now in a while, you hear about someone being sued for plagiarism - for example, J.K. Rowling is being sued for copying plot elements from Willy the Wizard (ABC News).

    The suit will probably fail, but the point is that it wouldn't even go to trial if there wasn't a legal basis for lawsuits against plaigarism. Basing a novel on the story contained in a series of music albums sounds like it could be in the danger zone.

    You don't happen to be a Rush fan, btw?
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The post made me think of Coheed and Cambria.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you should beconsulting a literary/copyright-specializing att'y about this, not writing site members...

    for starters, familiarize yourself with the copyright laws here: www.copyright.gov
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Agree with Cogito, above.

    Also, though ideas aren't subject to copyright, if the albums in question set forth a particular story, with the elements of the story in a particular sequence, etc., then you're getting close to protectable territory, because that is part of how an artist expresses an idea rather than the idea itself.

    A key question to ask yourself at this point, given the propensity of the music industry to litigate over intellectual property, is this: if they decide to come after you, even if you think you're in the right, can you afford to defend the lawsuit?

    If you can get permission, that's certainly the best way to go.
     
  8. Blazewind
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    Blazewind New Member

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    Thanks guys. You're advice on this is most helpful. I think my next step will be to try to contact the artists and record label and see if they like my proposal or not. I will definitely read up on copyright laws too. Mammamaia, thanks for the link. I really need to get more familiar with that sort of thing anyway.

    No, I don't actually know much of their music. My plot concept idea is based around the music of a somewhat obscure group known as Ayreon.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Nice. Ayreon is good. Lots of good musicians appear on their CDs as well.
     

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