*** AN OPEN LETTER TO RAY BRADBURY ***
I think you are a brilliant writer, and a great mind, but I (and a great many others) feel you are WAY off base in flaming Michael Moore for his new movie title, "Fahrenheit 9/11", which is (of course) just a pop-culture reference to your Fahrenheit work.
If you were a musician, would you call Weird Al Yankovic a "thief" for doing a parody of one of your hits? It's just one of the realities of being a writer/musician/actor, etc - having those references made, having your song re-recorded, getting bad reviews in the press, etc. I say, "get over it". I am sad because you have just essentially given YOURSELF a bad review in the press with this angry response to Moore's film title. And why? Moore's film is not even a parody - more to the point - it reinforces the very values espoused in your "Fahrenheit" work - those of freedom of speech, freedom of information, and the general raising of consciousness against invasive government control.
The strength and language of your criticism lead me to ask, "why"? Is your reaction politically-driven? Business-driven? Perhaps you shopuld put those questions to bed, and clarify your point with something other than expletives in newspaper articles.
I fear this debacle will do you and your reputation more harm than good in the long run...
Thank your for your original post.
<"I fear this debacle will do you and your reputation more harm than good in the long run.">
I am sitting back rubbing my eyes in wonder at this claim. If you'd like to consider the long run in real terms, do you think that Michael Moore's legacy is going to cast a shadow ANYTHING like Bradbury's legacy already has?
Understand, I admire Mr. Moore, and consider his output to be important and timely, but come on. Bradbury's opinion and disdain of Moore is a 'debacle' which will harm his name in the long run?
Get over it. Artists disagree all the time.
> Understand, I admire Mr. Moore, and consider his output
> to be important and timely, but come on. Bradbury's opinion
> and disdain of Moore is a 'debacle' which will harm his name
> in the long run? Get over it. Artists disagree all the time.
This is not a disagreement between artists. I think you greatly underestimate the political component of this issue, something that rarely, if ever, comes into play in a typical "artist spat".
Bradbury's words are being used all over the web by conservatives to falsely claim that he "supports" their hatred of the Moore's film, and that he is trying to use the copyright complaint to screw with the film's distribution.
On the other side, progressive's are also taking the comments out of context to point out the supposed irony of the author of "Fahrenheit 451" -- a film about censorship -- trying to censor a film.
This is way bigger than two artists arguing. Conservatives have an active phone and email campaign going to try to get theatre owners to refuse to show the film. So, despite Bradbury's actual intentions with his comments, you have to view them in this light.
Mr. Bradbury, care to clear up this issue? Perhaps a statement on the front of the web site to clarify your position (or lack of position) on the film? Is this simply a copyright issue to you?
Dear Mr. Bradbury,
In light of your efforts to compel Michael Moore to apologize for borrowing his "Fahrenheit 911" title from your story "Fahrenheit 451," we are writing to inquire into the status of your own public apologies regarding your works entitled "Something Wicked This Way Comes," "I Sing the Body Electric!," "No Man is an Island" and "Remembrance of Things Future."
Messrs William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, John Donne, and Marcel Proust
I agree with the kind and respectful sentiments towards Ray here, but think it's appropriate to remind him (and anyone else that wants MM to change his movie title) exactly what is and is not protected by copyright law. Book titles are NOT protected by copyright - nor are ideas, for that matter. I could write a sci-fi book about a futuristic society and call it Fahrenheit 451 and not infringe on any intellectual property of Ray's.
MM owes him nothing, not an apology, not a title change, nothing. He has not a legal, or IMHO, moral leg to stand on.
Here's some relevant info from the copyright office:
see the section "WHAT IS NOT PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT?" - it clearly states "Titles, names, short phrases".
It has NOTHING to do with copyright. Has to do with common art / literacy decency and respect.
Um, hello, since Ray is threatening legal action, it has everything to do with copyright. I also said that I don't think he has a moral leg to stand on, so perhaps you didn't read my whole post.
Since several centuries of copyright law, which are designed to preserve the rights of content creators like Ray, do not see fit to protect the title or the ideas, that's a good indication that an author cannot get all indignant that someone chose to base a work on those ideas.
Ray published his book and got many accolades. Once he puts forth his ideas, he has no right to how someone uses or reacts to them, whether positive or negative. Copyright law is simply the legal reflection of what our society has said Ray can expect from someone like MM: NOTHING!
dinskeep, is Mr. Moore's title have to do with temperature, like Mr. Bradbury's book does?
Duh, no. MM's movie title is chosen explicitly to evoke the images of a futuristic society where information is controlled and knowledge is destroyed, as depicted in Fahrenheit 451. He is admittedly playing off the title and ideas in F451. That is his right, and he owes Ray nothing for it. In fact, as Tristan pointed out in the start of this thread, MM's movie (and all of his books/movies) pay homage to the values espoused in F451. Few people in the public eye spend more of their personal life and energy railing against oppressive entities.
Ray is within his rights to say, hey, a little credit would be nice. MM would be a nice guy to do so, and hopefully the addition of a note at the beginning of the film describing F451 and Ray's legacy will be the quick end that this sordid little publicity stunt deserves.
Ray is not within his rights to demand a title change and threaten legal action. He doesn't have a leg to stand on, and comes off looking very poorly for it. He claims to be a political independant, but looks to me like just another right-winger looking to squash this film.
dinskeep, dear, don't you think that maybe Mr. Bradbury doesn't care too much for Mr. Moore, and that's why he doesn't like him referring in any way to his own work? Too simple, dinskeep?
You're missing the point, though it is very simple. Mr. Bradbury's opinion of MM is irrelevant.
MM can use the title and ideas put forth in F451 any way he wants, from both a moral and legal standpoint. He owes Ray nothing, not even the courtesy call that Ray apparently asked for 6 months ago and didn't get. Too bad. He can cry all he wants, but that doesn't change anything.
Hope all you windbags blow out of here soon. You're all making this Website inhospitable for serious users...
[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 06-21-2004).]
It's been several weeks since this topic was last addressed, but I just found it and decided to add a few things.
1. You are correct that Mr. Bradbury has no leg to stand on when it comes to COPYRIGHT law. However he does have a legal stance when it comes to intellectual property - of which his ideas are inclusive of. I work for a film production company and I have drawers full of legal documents on cases that we have lost and won all based on this premise. And since Mr. Bradbury currently has projects in the works regarding Fahrenheit he does have cause for concern and rightly so. Should he seek legal action, whether or not he would win his case, remains to be seen.
2. The person that signed his post Messrs. Shakespeare et al.: Those are considered public domain as they were written well before copyright laws existed OR copyright protection have long since expired. Anyone can produce a Shakespeare play or even use wholesale sections of a play in their own works. Nice try though.
3. A question was posed: Does MM's title have anything to do with temperature the way Mr. Bradbury's does? You can answer this one for yourself:
Fahrenheit 451: The temperature at which books burn.
Fahrenheit 911: The temperature at which freedom burns.
What do you think?
4. Anyone with any type of conscience not motivated by money can see that there is an issue of morality here. If MM had ANY ethical fiber in his body he would have contacted Mr. Bradbury long ago. Ray Bradbury is a literary genius and cultural icon and should be treated with the utmost respect. Something MM knows nothing about.
[This message has been edited by coach316 (edited 07-21-2004).]
Megadittoes on all your points.
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