Tag Archives: Nic Pizzolatti

True Detective HBO Series: Plagiarism or Fair Use?

FYI, for my readers:

The debate about plagiarism vs. artistic license is  often a dicey situation. I loved HBO’s True Detective, and when I learned that the character Rusty Cohle was based from the writings of weird fiction writer Thomas Ligotti, I was even more intrigued. But I only learned about Ligotti’s influence in the script from an interview of the screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto, not from watching the show, since there’s no reference to Ligotti in any episodes or credits.

Recently, I came across a fascinating post about plagiarism concerning True Detective. This is a really heated debate about what is legally plagiarism, morally wrong, or fair use.  Check out these two posts on August 4 and 5 on Lovecraft Ezine:

Just how much borrowing of words and phrases from a copyrighted published work is considered fair use? What do you think?

Aug 4: http://lovecraftzine.com/2014/08/04/did-the-writer-of-true-detective-plagiarize-thomas-ligotti-and-others/

Aug 5: http://lovecraftzine.com/2014/08/05/nic-pizzolattos-homage-to-ligotti-right-and-wrong-vs-the-law-and-the-courts/







I have a particular interest in this kind of thing since in my own work, The Dazzling Darkness, I have two characters exploring the philosophies of Ralph Waldo Emerson, speaking Emerson’s words and taking on his thinking. In every case, I cite Emerson as the source and was advised to do so by legal counsel: if the text is in the public domain (which all are), I could use it noting the source. And if not in the public domain, I would have to get (pay for) permissions. So, how does Pizzolatti get away with his character Rusty Cohle spouting (or in some cases paraphrasing) Ligotti’s thinking, words, phrases from his book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race (which is likely not in the public domain)? Hmmm. Curious, don’t you think?


If you are interested in reading a short story of Thomas Ligotti, check out Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel here on my March 11, 2014 Tales of Terror post. Ligotti is a iconic American writer, winner of  Bram Stoker Awards, British Fantasy Award, and had published numerous stories, screenplays, poems and nonfiction (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race).


Filed under fiction, horror, horror blogs, tales of terror