Posted by Mr. Q at 7:18 AM Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Dear Rich: I'm interested in knowing if you have ever encountered clearing an "inspired by" situation. For example, I have written a piano solo inspired by the novel, "Eat Pray Love." I have not put that information on the cover of the piece because my instinct tells me "Eat Pray Love" would need to be cleared. The Dear Rich Staff kind of missed the boat on Eat Pray Love. It's not that we don't like Chicklit or RomComs or Julia Roberts (We felt bad for her when she broke up with Kiefer Sutherland ... and then felt happy for her when she started dating Jason Patric because he was so great in that Kathryn Bigelow vampire movie). Anyway, we're glad you found the movie (or book) inspiring enough to write a piano solo. (This movie might inspire us to write a song, however.)
Right, you had a question. From a purely legal POV, there's nothing preventing you from calling your composition Eat Pray Love or from stating that it was inspired by Eat Pray Love. Many artists have named compositions after books and films (and vice versa). But you will run into problems if you imply that the owners or creators of the book or movie somehow endorse what you're doing. That might be the case if you have included an image of the book cover or a picture of Julia with your sheet music or performance. You also may run into problems if buyers are confused with the song that's become associated with the movie.