4th mar, 2008

Who owns real persons portrayed in books?

Politikken reports that Danish moviemaker Zentropa (now a part of Nordisk Film) has encountered trouble in its effort to adapt the events surrounding the so called “Blekingegadebande” to cinema. The short version of  story is that a group of people committed several serious crimes in their efforts to support the Palestinian liberation- among the crimes were killing a young police officer.
Zentropa have negotiated with Peter Øvig Knudsen the author of two very popular books about the group but have broken off the negotiations because of the price asked by the author. Now several experts warn Zentropa that their adaptation could violate Øvig Knudsens copyright.

As I see it the risk of Zentropa violating Øvig Knudsens copyright is very limited. There exists a lot of court material, newspaper articles and the like describing the persons and their actions. If Øvig Knudsen has content which is created by himself that material is covered by his copyright, but the events and characters – including looks and behaviour described in court records and police transcripts – are not.

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