Can I use a TV character as a minor character in a youtube series? 3 Answers as of July 30, 2013

It's basically fanfiction, just voice acted with Littlest Pet Shop toys. The character is just a small part, and they might not even "show up" (just be mentioned). Also, if using the exact character isn't fair use, can I just make a bogus name switch? If I added other elements of the TV show, because they're being acted out by tiny plastic animals, could I exaggerate it and have that count as parody? (The show is Psych, which is already comedic, so I don't know if that would slide.) Should I just drop the character entirely? It's just toys, so it's not exactly important, but I really would like use to entire plot if I could. Thank you for paying attention to this slightly ridiculous question.

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Lawyer for Indie Media
Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
Let me see if I have this right. You are making a you tube video using a real script from a TV show, but acting it out with tiny plastic animals? It sounds like it would work as parody. You might want to use not the entire script, since it is less likely to be infringement if you do not. Also, most people watching youtube videos have about a 5 minute tolerance for any video. Also any joke gets tired after 5 minutes. So why not condense the script to 5 minutes, do a great parody, and become internet famous? It sounds hilarious. Next, maybe you can do Glee using troll dolls.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 7/30/2013
Thompson & Associates LLC
Thompson & Associates LLC | Benjamin S. Thompson
This is a good question, and you might find the case of Gaiman v. McFarlane educational (as well as entertaining). Fair use is always tricky, and, in the instance you describe below, it is tough to determine whether your use would constitute fair use. You are correct to identify parody as fair use, but feigned parody in order to get around copyright might be rejected. It is best to generally advise you simply not to copy, but you could probably build a safe harbor by speaking to an attorney in more depth.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 7/29/2013
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
It is illegal to use another's intellectual property without permission. However, parody is an accepted Fair Use exception.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 7/29/2013
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