April 2017 - Acknowledging inspiration from another artist’s work, without risk of being sued for breach of copyright or misrepresentation

Acknowledging inspiration from another artist’s work, without risk of being sued for breach of copyright or misrepresentation

It’s only natural for an artist to want to acknowledge that a new performance piece has been “inspired by….” the work of another, such as a picture, a novel or a film. Be cautious, however, when doing this; there are pitfalls. To avoid the pitfalls follow this guidance and please do check with ITC at every stage.

  1. Always check with the original creator first, not later.
  2. Make it very clear that you are not asking for permission to adapt their work. If you initially give the impression that you are seeking a licence to adapt it will be very difficult to backtrack and say that you want less than this, it will look as if you are trying to make an adaptation without paying the proper fee.
  3. Explain what the new work is and what it was about their work that was one of the reasons you created it.
  4. Make it clear that anyone who did not know that your work was inspired by another artist’s work would not recognise this link if it was not mentioned.
  5. Send them the draft acknowledgment you propose to use; keep it short.
  6. If you don’t get a reply don’t mention the inspiration.
  7. If you don’t get permission don’t mention the inspiration.
  8. If you do get permission to acknowledge inspiration do this sparingly (unless you have permission to do more). Check your copy with ITC. We suggest just one line at the bottom of a programme/cast list.
  9. Even if you do get permission, don’t make the inspiration a selling point for your new production, you could be seen as exploiting the reputation of the original creator for your own benefit (particularly if this is someone who is more famous than you are). Don’t mention it on print or online advertising. Try to make sure it does not become a talking point on social media. Once a show is up and running this may be out of your control but the key stage is probably pre-opening publicity, when your new work will have no reputation of its own to rely on.