Copyright question...


New member
Say I wanted to use a product in a screenplay for example, a zippo lighter. Could I use the actual lighter without having to pay for the rights (as long as there's no zippo brand name or whatever), or would I have to dump the idea altogether? Thanks.


New member
That depends. If it's incidental to the story you're probably OK, but if you make it a major part of the story you could get into trouble.

For example, if your character takes the lighter out of their pocket and lights a cigarette, I doubt anyone's going to care. But if he's 'The Zippo Killer', a serial arsonist who makes a big thing of using a Zippo lighter to set buildings on fire and burn people to death, they might get upset if your movie is distributed.

I've read that Coca-Cola sacked their entire product placement team in LA because they were so upset by 'Natural Born Killers', and they'd actually given permission for their products to be used... without permission, watch out if you're doing something that could be detrimental to a company's products.


New member
In a script, it doesn't matter. Nobody sees the script except for the producers. Now, if it actually shows up on screen - that could potentially be a problem. For instance, if you said "Zippo," that reflects a very specific image. Zippo does not hold the only patent on flip-top lighters, but when you say Zippo, we automatically know what you're talking about. Same with Band-Aids and Kleenex. In the script, if a brand name helps the reader concieve a prop or idea more easily, use it. But, you might have to change it in production.