Q&A: I’m Spoofing a Well-Known Person in My Film, Should I Worry About Defamation or Likeness Issues?
Q: I’m making a series of humorous short films about the dot com bubble days. One of the characters is named Gill Bates in a not-so-subtle dig at you know who. We’re pretty hard on him in a humorous way. Do I need to worry about defamation or name and likeness issues with this or any other “based on real life” characters we may use?
A: I like where you went with this. It’s pretty impressive that you took one of America’s most beloved nerds and, through a simple switcheroo of letters, made him sound even nerdier with a name like “Gill.” Then you creeped it up with a last name like “Bates.” Which is perfect because I’m pretty sure Bill Gates sits up in his room wearing his mother’s wig arguing with himself about whether he should be allowed to invite Steve Jobs in for supper.
Did you see what I did right there? I not only made a half-hearted attempt at a movie-themed joke, I also demonstrated my lack of fear about telling the world that a public figure dresses up like his mother and converses with himself, knowing it’s probably not true. Is the source of this fearlessness my unbridled confidence that my good looks can get me out of any bind? Most likely. (I’m still very excited about our new profile pictures.) However, I also derive comfort from South Park’s favorite constitutional protection: the First Amendment. Continue reading the full story . . . »