View Full Version : David Letterman and Dr. Phil's Words of Wisdom

03-28-2003, 03:37 AM
Ok, very simple question here. When Dave shows one of "Dr. Phil's Words of Wisdom" (which, for those unwashed heathen who don't watch The Late Show, is when Dave airs a very brief clip from Dr. Phil's talk show, typically one phrase like "I want to be a beautiful woman" that sounds totally bizarre and nonsensical out of context) -- does he have to get clearance from NBC? Or is it one of those "fair use" things that he can do no matter what NBC thinks?

Jeff Lichtman
03-28-2003, 03:57 AM
Dr. Phil is not an NBC show - it is syndicated. I realize this doesn't answer the question, which is whether the Letterman show needs permission to show short clips of Dr. Phil.

Even if Letterman needs permission, I wouldn't expect this to be an obstacle. I'll bet the producers of Dr. Phil *love* the "Words of Wisdom" segments. It's free advertising for the Dr. Phil show.

03-28-2003, 09:00 AM
I know the Supreme Court has ruled that you can parody someone without risking being sued for libel following the infamous Larry Flint/Jerry Falwell case. It's also ruled that you can run passages from books or songs for critique purposes without asking permission from the author.

A short clip of a show may just be an extension of this.

03-28-2003, 10:45 AM
I think if you use under 'X' seconds you're not in trouble. There was a cable access show that use to use this loophole (if it is a loophole and not a joke I missed) to great effect - showing less than a second of Jody Foster in some movie and then talking about how good she was in that scene, etc.

03-28-2003, 12:42 PM
I know that one night letterman followed a particulary embarrasing clip with:

"I keep waiting for the cease-and-desist letter and it never comes."

03-28-2003, 12:55 PM
When Dr. Phil came on Letterman, he had a "Words of Wisdom from David Letterman." That was hilarious.

Exapno Mapcase
03-28-2003, 12:58 PM
Dr. Phil's lawyers could send out a cease and desist order. Letterman's lawyers could respond with a fair use or parody defense.

The only way to know who would win would be to actually take it to court.

03-28-2003, 01:12 PM
Whatever the legality, it would be strategically foolish for the owners of the Dr. Phil show to make a stink about it--Letterman's viewership is a lot bigger than Phil's, and think about the negative publicity...

Sam Stone
03-29-2003, 01:41 AM
Remember when Pets.com tried to sue Conan O'Brien over Triumph the Insult Comic dog, it was a PR disaster for them that ended with Triumph humping the pets.com sock puppet on TV.

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