Friday, May 15, 2009


The answer to yesterday's "title search challenge" was 24. Congrats to Jeff Cohen for being the best title detective.*

For those of you who didn't read yesterday's post, you can scroll back and read it.

But you almost couldn't have. Because I almost removed the post.

Here's why:

My goals for this blog are simple: to amuse, entertain, and educate. Not to cause even the teeniest, tiniest bit of controversy (or even a hint of a whiff of a bit of controversy).

Yesterday's blog post was an homage (pronounced "o-mazh." I love saying that word, but I hate saying fromage) to one of my favorite authors (let's just call him "FAMOUS AUTHOR"). It was a (very) gentle parody, featuring a few of FAMOUS AUTHOR'S characters. I meant no harm or disrespect. In fact, I thought it was a nice little tribute, in its own nice little way.

However, in a comment, an anonymous blog reader suggested that I was infringing on FAMOUS AUTHOR's intellectual property. And that got me thinking.

Infringing on someone else's intellectual property is just about the last thing I ever want to do. Being a writer myself, I am sensitive to those issues (and becoming more sensitive every day!). I'm no lawyer, so I did what anyone else would do. Hit Google for some legal research. After an exhaustive five minutes, I concluded that my post certainly qualified as a parody, and, as such, would be considered fair use (and not infringement).

When I wrote it, I thought my parody was similar to wearing my favorite football player's jersey in a show of support, respect, and admiration. You see, FAMOUS AUTHOR was a big reason why I became a writer myself, and I respect him--and his work--immensely. I'm a tremendous fan.

I reread the post several times. Would most people see the love? Or would some people misconstrue my intent. Not sure. Would people think I was dissing FAMOUS AUTHOR?

So, although I didn't think I was infringing on FAMOUS AUTHOR's intellectual property, I almost removed the post.

I would never want to offend anyone, let alone FAMOUS AUTHOR. Not that I think my post would have torqued him--from reading just about every single one of his more than fifty books (and his own blog, and interviews, etc., etc.), he seems like he would actually have liked my heart-felt words. But you never know.

In the end, I left the post up. If FAMOUS AUTHOR would like me to take it down, I'll take it down in a flash. Otherwise, I'll leave it up for others to enjoy in the spirit it was intended. (And go buy FAMOUS AUTHOR’s books—they’re great!)

There was one other reason I almost removed the post. I wouldn't want my writing idol to have any negative perception of me whatsoever.

Not when I'd love for FAMOUS AUTHOR** to blurb my book.


*No actual prize--just the intrinsic joy associated with a task well done!

**2002 MWA Grandmaster, Robert B. Parker



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Wow. It never would have occurred to me that such a thing would be infringement. I mean--look at "Saturday Night Live"--that's all they do are parodies. Hmm.


Alan Orloff said...

Yeah, it didn't occur to me either, until I read the blog comment.

I grew up on SNL and loved every silly, parody-infused moment of it!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, isn't it? At least that's what my mother always told me when my little sister copied me....


Alan Orloff said...


Are you sure you're not my long-lost sister? My mother said the same thing to me, when my little sibs would copy everything I did.