Question by mrbaseballfan: What are the rules for naming a movie or documentary?
I want to make a documentary called “selma” but the name is already taken by a movie on the civil rights movement to come out in 2011. Can I still use the title?
Plan B would be to call it “catch 22” but i believe that was a film made in the 1970’s
what are the rules for this? Thanks!
Answer by Moses
If your film has nothing to do with civil rights or the Selma march, then you could legally use the same title, but since the other movie is coming out in 2011, you’d be foolish to do that – mostly in terms of marketing issues, but also in terms of not making enemies out of other documentary filmmakers. If the other movie had been released 20 years ago, that would be different… maybe.
“Catch 22” is a novel by Joseph Heller, which is still under copyright. I believe the rights are still owned by Heller’s estate, but you could try contacting them to license the name for your documentary, though that would cost a great deal of money.
I don’t mean any offense here, and of course I don’t know what your documentary is about, and I do realize that a lot of movies have been made over the years, all of which have required nice titles… but if you can’t at least come up with an original title, what are you doing making a documentary in the first place? At worst, you should be able to get some friends together and brainstorm until you come up with something relevant-sounding that doesn’t turn up on an IMDb search.
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