For free, you can enjoy audios of novelizations of Blade Runner, The Terminator, Videodrome, ET, Saturday Night Fever and dozens of other films by way of a YouTube page and related Web site called Audiobooks for the Damned.
Movie buff Joe Olsen leads the "all-volunteer project to make obscure, out-of-print novelizations and other neglected literature widely available in audiobook format..outright damnation.”
As a listener, I’m thrilled. Let’s just hope that the source books have been thoroughly checked to make certain that no copyright zombies can pop up. I have not investigated this. The project’s Blade Runner page on YouTube says, “For educational purposes only.” Huh? We’re not talking about an expired copyright here? Why the limitation? Perhaps I’m overlooking something, but I also wonder if MP3 versions are available. If not, will they be free or for sale?
Whatever the copyright situation, I love the audio I’m hearing of Blade Runner as I write this. If there are copyright issues, I hope they can be clarified.
Detail: Novelizations come from film scripts and may or may not conform to possible source material such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the Philip K. Dick novel that inspired the BR screenplay.
If you want to read Dick’s story: Go here. Also, you can buy a used copy of Les Martin’s novelization. Random House meant this for young readers. The sole review on Amazon gives the novelization five stars.
(Via Metafilter and OpenCulture)
Here’s what Stanford says about the factors that determine fair use:
Taken to court, this group would probably argue that what they’re doing is “transformative,” but that argument bites both ways. Turning a book into a movie is certainly transformative, but if you do it, you better have permission. Turning a movie into an audiobooks could be regarded as similar.
In general, to be transformative, what you’re doing must have a different purpose from the original. Taking something serious and making it a parody does that by making fun of the author or his story. Just keep in mind that for your parody to be legit, you must make fun of the author or his tale, You can’t use his story to make fun of someone else.
Scholarship works, because you’re viewing a fictional story as something else—a work of literature. That was my primary defense of my The Lord of the Rings chronology, Untangling Tolkien, in a copyright dispute in federal court.
Yes, I took virtually every incident in the plot, but I did so for scholarly reasons to see if his chronology hung together and to discover what hidden aspects of Tolkien’s writing that would bring out. It worked. The Tolkien estate backed out and the judge dismissed their dispute “with prejudice,” so I won. The book is in print.
Journalism works too, if it’s a review, even one that leaks the plot. Education works if you’re teaching students. The transformative purpose is educational rather than entertainment. But don’t try to argue that if you’re turning a textbook into a rip-off textbook. Nothing is being transformed.
What doesn’t work well if the core purpose remains the same. The movie is intended to entertain. Unless these audiobooks are interrupting the narrative every thirty seconds or so for commentary, they are also intended to entertain. No transformation there.
I would not want to be their lawyer. They may know that and are hoping those they’re dealing with decide they not worth suing. That’s hinted in their mention of “damnation.” In copyright, that happens when the side that wants to publish gets tired of dealing with the copyright holder’s threats and invokes “publish and be damned.”
Courts don’t like to exercise prior restraint for copyright violations. They’d rather deal with actual, in-print books. By publishing, the one who wants to publish forces the copyright holder to go to court or shut up. Let it slide long enough, and the courts are likely to dismiss a belated lawsuit. In intellectual property law, rights not exercised are lost.
Being the sort who loathes bullying of any sort, I love the concept of ‘publish and be damned,” but I’d do so with a stronger case than I believe these people have. Even if they’ve changed every line of the script to be slightly different, they’re still taking the heart of the story and courts are very down on that.
That said, ‘publish and be damned’ isn’t a good legal strategy. It’s far wiser, if you know the other side will sue, to provoke them into taking you to court before publication. That’s what happened with my lawsuit with the Tolkien estate. Shortly afterward, an ACLU lawyer gave me one of my best tactics, keep revising my book to make it more and more bulletproof.
For instance, the estate was paying a rather pitiful English professor to come up with alleged plagiarisms. Heavily using ellipses, the guy made it look like I was copying words from elsewhere, often Christopher Tolkien books I’d never read.
My tactic there was great fun. I merely tweaked the wording slightly to end that plagiarism accusation. At one point in our dispute, the estate spend thousands of dollars coming up with faux plagiarisms. In about half an hour, I’d reworded them all and in my response I told the judge that point was now “moot.” Thousands of dollars for them versus half-an-hour for me. I could fight that sort of battle forever.
Also, much of the commentary I’d placed alongside the events, treated those fictional events as actual. All I need to do was insert, every paragraph or so, mention of Tolkien to “transform” what I was doing into literary criticism/scholarship.
Oh, did that frustrate my opposing lawyers. That’s why, if you have a project that’s iffy under copyright law, get the advice of a good lawyer. Sometimes tweaks can turn something that will lose in court into a winner. But those tweaks need to come before publication.
Those who’d like to seem more aspects of my winning fair use argument will find it rewritten as the last chapter of Untangling Tolkien. That chapter also offers an interesting insight into why readers find his tale so overwhelming, insight that they can use in their own writing. The key reason Tolkien overpowers readers isn’t elves and dwarves. It’s something more subtle and rarely used by modern authors.
–Michael W. Perry, Untangling Tolkien