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ShaunHorton
10-29-2015, 06:45 AM
So, I want to write a story that's a continuation of a phone call recording that's been passed around the internet for several years now. I want to start with a transcription of the call before I dive into the story itself.

The problem is I have no idea what the rules are for use/attribution on something that's been passed around so much for so long. And it's, as far as I know, a recording from an actual event, and not a work of someone's fiction.

Would it be okay for me to just include the transcription at the start of the story?

Here's a video of the specific call in question. (https://youtu.be/WmbNEKrNnvg?t=15s)

Jamesaritchie
10-29-2015, 09:36 AM
No way to tell, but you should always bet that someone owns every last bit of writing out there because someone almost always does. Being passed around the internet does not take away ownership, anymore than book pirates take away ownership. The basic rule is if it isn't yours don't use it.

Polenth
10-29-2015, 10:44 AM
Being passed around doesn't make something public domain. But also, the person in the call might object to being a character in your story. There have been court cases over much more passing resemblances, and in this case, you're directly writing a story about them.

There are a lot of Bigfoot sightings, including 911 calls, so you can be inspired by the general phenomemen without sticking so closely to one specific incident.

Richard White
10-29-2015, 09:18 PM
I agree. If you're concerned, you could say something like "inspired by true events", but even that's probably bringing a bazooka to smash a fly.

I use real life events all the time in my writing without actually using them second by second. Same with this. Use the call for inspiration and figure out how "your" characters would react if this was happening to them.

Jamesaritchie
10-30-2015, 12:49 AM
I agree. If you're concerned, you could say something like "inspired by true events", but even that's probably bringing a bazooka to smash a fly.

I use real life events all the time in my writing without actually using them second by second. Same with this. Use the call for inspiration and figure out how "your" characters would react if this was happening to them.

I think you nailed it. I use real life events constantly in my fiction, as well, but I do not use someone else's written words. For that matter, the entire call could be completely rewritten so even God wouldn't recognize it, and even written around a completely different event.

Inspired by real events often leads to great fiction.