Are copyright laws different for books vs film/TV?

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When shooting something you need to get the rights to other properties you might use in your media but in books there seems to be some more flexibility. Are there different laws or are the rules easier to bend?

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There is some nuance, but it is the same laws. But there are a lot of books that are public domain, moreso then there are TV shows and movies.

So, you could start filming your own version of Robin Hood today, no worrying about copyright.

But making your own version of Home Alone takes some doing.

No, the laws are the same. There are some differences if you write a book set in the time of a historical event. You don’t need to get the Kennedy family’s permission to set a story in the time of the Kennedy administration. You can use actual names, dates, and places, as long as you don’t use fake quotes or libel people.

That said, copyright protects the expression of the idea, not the idea itself. If you want to write a story about a boy wizard, that’s not at all the same as writing a Harry Potter book. Copyright laws protect J. K. Rowling from your use of the characters, places, events, spells, … in her books in your book or movie. She used ideas that others have used, like Dumbledore the absent minded professor – who is very similar to Merlin in the Tim White books or the Disney Sword in the Stone movie.

My father in law used one line of a song in a book.

Dionne Warwick’s lawyers chased his publishers until they paid for the rights to use the song.

Copyright doesn’t differ based on the medium. If you don’t have the right to it, you can’t copy it.