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Tuesday, 22 June 2004

THE TEMPERATURE'S RISING IN FILM TITLE DISPUTE


Ananova reports that Ray Bradbury, author of the novel Fahrenheit 451, is objecting to documentary maker Michael Moore's use of Fahrenheit 9/11 as the title of his film about the "war on terrorism". Bradbury chose that temperature because it's the heat at which paper burns and Moore has explained that Fahrenheit 9/11 is the "temperature at which freedom burns". Bradbury is seeking an apology and wants to avoid legal action. He has said that he is "hoping to settle this as two gentlemen, if he'll [Moore] shake hands with me and give me back my book and title".

The IPKat doubts whether legal action would be possible in such a scenario in the UK. Although in theory simple phrases such as the titles of books and names may qualify for copyright as literary works, the courts and other legal authorities have been reluctant to recognise copyright in names and titles in individual cases. Perhaps though some sort of passing off action would be possible if it were shown that Bradbury has goodwill in the title and that consumers were deceived by Moore's use of his title into believing that the film had in some way been endorsed by Bradbury. In any event, he's not impressed by the notion of Moore "giving back" the title to Bradbury. Though he may have benefited from the association with the title of Bradbury's book, he has in no way deprived Bradbury of the use of the title for his own work.

Fahrenheit 451 here
Fahrenheit 9/11 here and here
Fahrenheit here and here

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