In preparing a film I directed for Darryl Gold’s Hard Liquor & Porn DVD, I’ve had to put the kibosh on a perfectly good visual gag, for fear that Darryl and Co. might somehow get sued.
The gag goes something like this: A failed writer, talking about his previous dead-end projects, describes a planned series of adventure novels called “The Hanson Boys”, about a trio of blonde-haired youths who solve mysteries and sing pop songs. While the writer describes the double lawsuit that ensued, this graphic appears on screen.
I guess you could argue that the visual is only funny because of the illegal use of a celebrity’s likeness; I would contend that any figure in the public eye is fair game for parody and satire. If, like me, you find yourself stifled by copyright law, might I humbly suggest a look at Free Culture by Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig. It contains many sound arguments that challenge the traditional assumptions of intellectual property — and it’s free!