Terry Fator went on-stage at the 2016 Vent Haven ConVENTion and talked about originality.

At the time, a puppeteer accused him of stealing his idea. The accusations bothered Terry and he wanted to address the situation. I listened to Terry’s talk and completely agreed with him.

Unfortunately some decided to twist the sentiments and words. They claim Terry said ” … it is okay to copy.”


Terry said ” … it is okay to copy … an idea.”

During his talk, Terry offered examples of different television programs that had similar premises. The plot outline was similar. The characters, their motivations and personalities twisted the basic outline into something unique.

Terry cited a ton of examples of this.

And here is the truth:

You can not copyright an idea.

Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act specifically states: “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated or embodied in such work.”

The idea can not be copyrighted – but a script can!

So people were twisting Terry’s meaning. You can’t just see someone do a routine and use it. You can borrow a concept and create your own version of it.

Years ago I saw a routine by a ventriloquist on his DVD. I loved the concept. I also thought I could re-write it to be funnier. I wrote my idea for the script and sent it to him, asking his permission. He responded with his blessings, and even asked if he could use one of my lines.

The subject of copying tends to come up again and again. Don’t do it. Maher has starter scripts you can use. So does Axtell Expressions. They are great for learning. But study the way they are written and create your own. Don’t recite them word for word. Twist them into something original.

Don’t be a cover band. Do your own material.