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 Message
    From: STRACZYNSKI [Joe]
 Subject: The episode of "Mind War" broadcast...
      To: GENIE  
    Date: 3/27/1994 10:36:00 AM  

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The episode of "Mind War" broadcast henceforth will be the one with
slight alteration.

What's the difference between a story idea and a speculation...eek. The
problem with this whole discussion -- perhaps the main problem -- is the
fuzziness, because it *hasn't been defined yet*. We are now in the OF
defining it via this exchange. It's what a person might choose to sue over.
And there's no way to quantify or predict that.

I do think there's *some* difference between the two. I think that
primary way this discussion can get into trouble is in the level of detail.
It's pretty much impossible to sue for a brief *idea*; but the more elaborate
a suggestion or speculation gets, the more points of potential comparison
emerge, and the greater the liability. "See, your honor? My speculation on
what happened contained 57 specific plot points, and what Straczynski later
produced had 54 of those points. I submit that he saw what I wrote, decided
it was better, stole my idea, and took it for his own!"

Bottom line...I only got into this discussion, really, because I didn't
want people futilely spinning their wheels, because minus the 4 or 5 main plot
points you don't have yet, it's nearly impossible to guess what's going on.
It's like trying to determine who committed a murder when all you've been told
is that there's a dead body...not when it was committed, or where, or how the
person died, or what clues were found, or where all the suspects were at the
time. My primary concern was in not letting the frustration level get too
high. The other matter was tangential.


But since it has come up...again, I'd say that the main point of
differentiation is in the level of complexity. The longer and more detailed
the speculation, new histories for characters, new behind the scenes stuff,
plot complications, motivations, on and on -- the more something is built that
one could sue over.

This is a very difficult area, and there are all kinds of ways that it
can bite you. Over on CIS, for instance, Paramount came down on a series of
messages with speculative plot info on ST 7 with lawyers and in injunction and
major-leage threats against the people involved, CIS itself and anyone else
they could think of. We're trying to find a more personable way of handling
this situation. And for the most part, I think we're doing fine. But every so
often this little issue raises its ugly head, and has to be dealt with.

jms

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