Moore Film Title Angers Author Bradbury
AP – Moore Film Title Angers Author Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is demanding an apology from filmmaker Michael Moore for lifting the title from his classic science-fiction novel “Fahrenheit 451” without permission and wants the new documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” to be renamed.
“He didn’t ask my permission,” Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press on Friday. “That’s not his novel, that’s not his title, so he shouldn’t have done it.”
Bradbury, who hadn’t seen the movie, said he called Moore’s company six months ago to protest and was promised Moore would call back.
He finally got that call last Saturday, Bradbury said, adding Moore told him he was “embarrassed.”
“He suddenly realized he’s let too much time go by,” the author said by phone from his home in Los Angeles’ Cheviot Hills section.
Joanne Doroshow, a spokeswoman for “Fahrenheit 9/11,” said the film’s makers have “the utmost respect for Ray Bradbury.”
While I like Bradbury’s work and find Moore to be a rather loathsome creature, I don’t think Moore is doing anything wrong here. I’m no expert in copyright law but, if 2LiveCrew can put out a vile version of “Pretty Woman” over Roy Orbison’s objections, surely the use of the word “Fahrenheit”–which Bradbury didn’t invent, after all–is permissible.
Bradbury’s book is “Fahrenheit 451: the temperature at which books burn.” Moore’s film is titled “Fahrenheit 9/11: the temperature at which freedom burns.” Seems pretty obvious to me.
… and by pretty obvious what I mean is that Moore is capitalizing on the popularity of Bradbury’s title — his intellectual property. To do so without permission or compensation is to profit from another person’s idea.
Titles can’t be copyrighted (and thank goodness for that, because artists — including Bradbury — yoink them from other works all the time).
To wit: Bradbury can complain, but that’s it. Moore has done nothing wrong. Legally speaking, Moore is on 100% solid ground here.
Whether he should have asked Bradbury’s permission, and whether he should accede to Bradbury’s wishes is another matter entirely.
I agree that Bradbury doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. However, it would be nice if Moore thanked Bradbury or some such. The interesting test will be when someone makes a parody of one of Michael Moore’s books: Bowling for Michael Moore or some such.
Bradbury has a right to express his dismay. But no legal recourse.
The Moore parodies, however, will be stunning when they do come out: there’s a lot of anger out there.