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Anyone with knowledge in law, music, copyright, and/or intellectual rights out there? For I have a question.

I have a new idea for a novel turning about in my head. It would center around a theatre production of a musical, though would really be about the interactions between some of the participants. I was thinking of a play by Sondheim in particular. I wouldn't make fun of the play; I like it, and would represent it in a flattering light. There would be rampant use of character names and lines and lyrics. I'd mention Sondheim by name; there would be no question that he wrote it, not me. So, do I need permission to use it, or is it decidedly "fair use" to do something like this? If I do need permission, who do I ask? Would I have to pay for it?

If I have to pay, then really, I'm just going to scrap the whole idea.


Jul. 26th, 2004 11:39 am (UTC)
I'm not sure about the legalities of this... however, the person in question is a lucrative money-maker and I'd assume that it *may* be hard to get the OK to center something totally around his work (especially something like Sweeny Todd).

In a similar manner, I have seen novels and plays centering around the production of older plays such as Romeo and Juliet or Othello because of the ease with which one can use those texts.

If I were you, I'd create my own musical or play to center the story around (this could be based on another musical, or it could even lampoon another musical if you'd like to be snarky). This, I know, is a little more work but all matters of legality would be your own then.

Cheers. How's the other novel coming, btw?
Jul. 26th, 2004 12:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Hrmmm...
Well, I was thinking of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum actually, but same deal, I'm sure... :)

I considered using Shakespeare or another classic, but a) would have to review the plays, as I'm fuzzy on most of them, and b) would prefer a musical anyway, given the plot idea I had in mind. (Sidenote: would be kind of funny if his people vetoed this use, considering Sondheim [with Bernstein] rewrote Romeo and Juliet for West Side Story. Heh.)

Hadn't thought of creating my own, though. That might work.

I know I've read novels, of the high-school-romance variety, in which the school puts on an actual modern musical like Oklahoma, and I'm pretty sure I've seen it happen in TV shows and movies too. But then I don't know what kind of strings they had to pull to make it happen. Besides, I'm certainly no one of consequence compared to those publishers and producers, so they might be less willing to trust me. May be worth asking, but I'll be prepared to ditch it for another idea.

The other novel is at 80,000 words currently, and nearly done. Which is why I need to think about the next one. I know from experience that I'll become adrift and neurotic (more so than usual) when I've finished the story and don't have another to work on. :)
Jul. 26th, 2004 02:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Hrmmm...
One of my Novel Ideas requires me to create a TV show. So I thought of a neat TV show. Problem was, the TV show idea was *so* cool that I was loathe to waste it the other novel -- I want to expand it to its own novel. So, now I've got 2 novel ideas, and still need to think of a TV show for the first one. Woe.
Jul. 26th, 2004 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Hrmmm...
Heh! That's the direction I saw myself going too, as I thought about it. I'd have to write a story within a story, and couldn't give very much effort and shape to the embedded story, or else I'd just want to write it instead. :)

Maybe you can actually sell your TV show idea to Fox for a couple hundred thousand... (well, we can dream.)
Jul. 26th, 2004 05:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Hrmmm...
I'd *NEVER* sell a show idea to Fox, not these days. They kill off shows faster than...no one, really. LOL.

Plus, as I kept thinking about this "show" the more I drew in themes that can only be explored in a book. So. Shelved novel idea it has become ;)
Jul. 26th, 2004 03:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Hrmmm...
Have you seen the movie Camp?

The screenwriter wrote it, using Sondheim's music in spots to move the plot along. He didn't get permission to use Sondheim's material until after he had finished the script (if I remember correctly).
Jul. 26th, 2004 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Hrmmm...
Interesting. No, I haven't seen it, but I've been curious about it. May have to see what they did with the material for comparison.