Any legal problems with making a "Ghost Buster's themed" video? at DVinfo.net

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Old May 20th, 2010, 10:04 AM   #1
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Any legal problems with making a "Ghost Buster's themed" video?

Hi there,

I'm working with a local community group to make a 5 minute video that we'll show on YouTube. The video will be about draught busting (applying plastic strips to old windows to prevent draughts and hence save on heating bills)

We're considering giving our video a bit of humour by having the "draught busters" arrive in a car made to look a little like the Ghost Buster's car and having them wear kit a bit like Ghost Buster's kit. Are there any legal issues with this?!? I assume not but I thought I'd check with the knowledgeable folks here on DVinfo.

Thanks,
Jack
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Old May 20th, 2010, 10:14 AM   #2
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Parody certainly used to be fine - but still, I'd be a little wary of any specific use of the original music, logos and perhaps even words that can be claimed as part of the brand? The signature tune is very well known, and Youtube would no doubt spot the original and remove it. However, it's quite a simple repetitive tune, so could be re-recorded quite simply changing the melody enough to be familiar but to the same, keeping the same rhythm. Similar but different is fine.

Remember the Baron Knights - made their name doing parodies until the original artistes (and their management) lost their sense of humour - and they had to pack it in.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 10:47 AM   #3
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Many thanks for the reply, very good points. Hmm... it's a real, REAL long shot but I'll try begging for a license to use the original music. I imagine there's a 99% chance they'll ignore my request and a 0.9% chance they'll say "no" and a 0.1% chance they'll say "OK".

By the way, I should mention that - of course - any advice I receive from DVinfo.net I will take entirely as friendly advice. I'm certainly not trying to replace a lawyer here. Just looking for some rough pointers.

Thanks loads for the reply,
Jack
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Old May 20th, 2010, 11:31 AM   #4
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I think you could fairly easily find a group of musicians (or a single musician multi-tracking) to record a theme that is similar enough to the Ghostbusters theme, but not the same. A strong baseline, a few chords on keyboard and and bingo - a theme that evokes the image of Ghostbusters without actually using the copyright theme.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 01:56 PM   #5
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I'd agree that you can "do honor" to the original without using the exact tunes - you're borrowing a conceptual theme of a pop culture movie, not copying it, right? You're not taking clips from the movies and plugging them into your little community service project, you're parroting/parodying.

I know copyright is a tough subject, but IMO it's become a little overzealous with the contentions by artists that you've violated their rights (trademarks could be another issue). Using their "finished product" is by definition strictly verboten, but borrowing from/building upon/being inspired by the works of another is the very basis for "art", and the progression thereof.

If it were illegal to borrow from/mimic/ape/be inspired by a specific work, I venture about 99.9% of EVERYTHING could be considered "infringing".

FWIW, I like your concept, sounds like it could be a "fun" PSA - and as trendy as "being green" is, I'd still say approach the people behind Ghostbusters and see if they'd be willing to participate somehow - saving the planet is rather popular with artists, ya know?
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Old May 21st, 2010, 02:45 PM   #6
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And it's ironic that the "Ghostbusters" song was, in fact, a specific ripoff/clone of another popular song at the time, as has been well documented.
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Old September 6th, 2010, 05:55 PM   #7
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I know this is old, but I have to say something. In my little corner of the world there has been more than one time when an ad featured "Ghostbusters" in song. An auto dealer comes to mind. Regardless it was a textbook facepalm after I had seen it. Please refrain from such ideas. To me it is not worth the trouble to clear copyright and may not translate well after the fact.
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