Alright, in the spirit of light-hearted fun, I managed to jam out a 27,000 word vampire novel in six days. Given that nobody in the family died of malnourishment, the house didn’t fall apart, and I didn’t lose any children, I feel pretty good about this. I might like it more if I had had more time to spend on it, but here it is, Chapter One of Driving at Twilight, for those interested in driving and Twilight. (I tried to keep the open mockery to a minimum, but it was really hard at times to keep it toned down.)
My grip tightened, white knuckles on a black steering wheel. I glanced in the mirror and accelerated.
The woman beside me clutched at her seat belt, face going pale. “What are you doing?”
I pushed the gas petal deeper, all the way to the floor, throwing us both back against our seats. The light flicked red.
“No! No, brakes!”
The car flew out into the intersection, engine roaring.
Bright headlights flared across my face and a horn blared. The woman screamed, red fingernails embedded in the car door. Brakes shrieked in the cool autumn air and we were through. I gasped for breath, a nervous laugh of triumph in my throat, and then the woman reached over and smacked me on the side of the head with the Driver’s Manual, snarling, “What is wrong with you?”
Husband thinks I should send a copy to the DMV. What do you think?
Who here knows the laws regarding fair use? And their use in parodies? ‘Cause I don’t. Not well, anyway.
My younger sister is graduating from high school this Friday, the last of the brood. She’s also having a hard time getting her driver’s license, a phenomena which my mother attributes to her not reading the Driver’s Manual put out my our state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Mother complained that if it just had a few vampires, she might read the thing. ‘Hmmm…’ I thought, grinning. Thus was conceived the idea for a novella titled Driving At Twilight, a teenager meets vampire angsty pants story wherein our heroine tries to get her driver’s license amidst the turmoil of falling in love with a vampire whilst another is trying to kill her.
The trouble is that I’m lazy. I decided right off the bat that, aside from some driving school rather than high school tweaking, it’s pretty much going to parrot Twilight (if you couldn’t tell from the title). And I fully admit that many of the scintillatingly clever writing is pulled directly from the DMV Driver’s Manual. So is this two cheap parodies mashed together in an unholy alliance? Or is it quite simply PLAGIARISM? Ooo, that dirty word has haunted me since middle school. I’ve never committed it, but am I about to? Because it’s funny?
This is why I find myself Googling ‘fair use’ this morning. I’d rather not get sued for a joke with my little sister. And I really don’t think Stephanie Meyers would come breathing down my neck at all, except that I thought I might put it up here in a week or two, or maybe even send a copy over to the DMV so we can all giggle about it together. Does circulation complicate the matter? (Most probably yes.) I’m not planning on making any money on this. And I like to kid myself that this is educational. But, still… I’d rather not get sued.
Merriam-Webster tells us that parody is “a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule “. It further defines fair use as “a legal doctrine that portions of copyrighted materials may be used without permission of the copyright owner provided the use is fair and reasonable, does not substantially impair the value of the materials, and does not curtail the profits reasonably expected by the owner”. I don’t think I’ll be cutting in on Summit Entertainment or Ms. Meyers’ profits, nor do I think that anyone will be profiting from this at all. And I’m definitely portraying the characters’ situation as a little ridiculous. And I give the characters goofy not-quite-the-same names- so it’s gotta be a parody, right? If Fifty Shades of Grey can get away with it, this is even less threatening.
What do you think? What makes a parody sue-safe? Or a fan-fic, for that matter? Would you ever write a parody?