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Old March 20th, 2004, 08:51 PM   #1
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Shakespeare, Poe, Homer, The Bible

I have a question about adaptation in regards to the following:

Shakespeare, Poe, Homer, The Bible.

I assume that you can take any story from the bible, adapt it, film it, and sell it.

As for the others, how long before you can adapt freely any of their works. Do they remain under ownership forever? Is anyone free to adapt and film them? I have been wondering this for some time. Someone told me it was 50 years after that person dies. If not, who owns it. Can that person leave it to someone like their house and money? I have no idea, so all answers will be much appreciated.

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Bryan

Weird: I got an email telling me someone replied, but I don't see their reply. Don't see any replies yet.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 01:56 AM   #2
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//Shakespeare, Poe, Homer, The Bible.//

All of these works you can freely adapt. But of course, you need to give credit where credit is due.

Homer, no one even knows was a real person.

The Bible stories you can adapt but if you quote the text of a particular version/translation, you should check to see if its copyright is still being held by someone or organization.

Poe and Shakespeare I'm pretty sure are public domain.

Shakespeare again has an identity that has yet to be proven.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 02:19 AM   #3
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Current US copyright duration extends to 70 years after the author's death, making even Poe, the youngest of those you mention, fair game. There are a few tricky ways in which corporations have managed to extend the lifetimes of the protections of their intellectual properties. The copyrights on L. Frank Baum's Oz books are expired, but good luck remaking The Wizard of Oz without catching some flack from MGM's legal team.

"Shakespeare again has an identity that has yet to be proven."

It should be said that this is really not the scholastic consensus. The existence of Shakespeare the man is well documented, examples of his signature are several; doubts of his authorship of the many plays and poems attributed to him, while entertained by a very small number of academics--the Marlovians the wonkiest among them--tend to be full of impossibly clever suppositions which rely on conspiracy theory--i.e., they can neither be proven nor disproven--and in the end stand up to about as much scrutiny as arguments for a flat earth and a falsified moon landing. Every evidence shows that Shakespeare was an actor, writer, investor, and what we would now call a director in his companies, and not some secretive nationwide in-joke among his equally famous and prolific contemporaries. It would be roughly the equivalent of Steven Spielberg having been all along a fake.

As for credit where credit is due: a courtesy, but surely not a legal obligation. If the viewer isn't able to spot a Biblical parable or a classical myth in your movie, citing attribution really won't help them any!
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Old March 21st, 2004, 02:21 AM   #4
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Cool, very cool. I was pretty sure they were public domain but wanted to be sure. Someone told me it that copyrights lasted 50 years after a person dies. Another person told me 70 years. In either case- and with your good points-, I guess I can go ahead.

Edit: Oh, my post is kind of redundant, since another reply beat me too it :)
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Old March 21st, 2004, 03:12 AM   #5
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I'm not a Shakespeare scholar so I will defer to your information on it. It's not a big deal to me whether it was a real person named Shakespeare or someone else who has come to be known as Shakespeare.

As for giving credit. I think it is more to protect the adaptor to show that they are adapting rather than directly lifting from a work.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 09:12 AM   #6
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Giving credit, even to the bible, also prevents the filmmaker from looking like a fool or plagarist. Even though it's legal, an observer may think he's trying to pass something off as original.




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Old March 21st, 2004, 11:07 AM   #7
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You said what I meant to say, but better.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 09:55 AM   #8
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The original King James version of the bible is in the public domain, the newer versions ((New) American Standard, New International Version, New King James) are copyrighted since they are translations all done less than 70 years ago. Same rules could apply for foreign translations. I think Zondervan owns the copyright on the New International version, not sure about the American standard, though it is considered the most complete and accurate of the english language translations.

So...
If you need to quote some scripture, KJ is your safest bet.
plus it's more poetic.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 12:31 PM   #9
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You might run into a similar problem using a copyrighted edition of Shakespeare, although I'm sure there are only a handful of scholars around who would be able to spot it.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 04:17 PM   #10
 
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plagiarizing from the Bible brings with it retribution in the form of a thunderbolt from the heavens....and possibly the MPAA

plagiarizing from shakespeare may well result in hemlock being slipped into one of your bevarages from an unidentified source, most likely a crazed scotsman.

plagiarizing from Poe may bring a visitation from an obsessive raven...or at best, sleepless nights whilst your house has a coronary occlusion.

....and plagiarizing from homer may bring the curse of having to eat twinkies with your beer.....or did I pick the wrong homer?...hehehe
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 09:39 PM   #11
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It's a good thing It's not plagiarism. It's adaptation. I fully intend on crediting the author.
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