1. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Can I use this?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Trish, Apr 22, 2011.

    Okay, please understand I have had less than 4 hours of sleep. More like 3. So if I'm just being stupid, I am truly, deeply, horribly, desperately sorry. (yeah, bring on the ly's).

    Anyway, I have a MC who is injured. Character 2 thinks a certain person did it and MC denies it. Character 2 goes on a little tirade asking if they're supposed to believe it was Freddy Kruger, Jason, or the Boogey Man (or similar, I'm not really telling).

    Can I use those names? I'm editing at this point and it never occurred to me that I might not be able to when I wrote it the first time. I tried searching google and here, and I'm not finding what I need. I don't know if the computer's broken or if my neurons are disconnected, but any help is appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    Boogey man definitely yes, its a fairy tale name, the film ripped off that fairy tale.

    as for Jason and Freddy, then probably yes, I'm no pro but i seriously doubt anyone would complain for such a brief reference
     
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  3. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Yeah, Jason and Freddy-type names are the ones I'm really worried about. I think they should be, but I can't find anything. Thanks for your help :)
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    If you're talking about real people who committed an injuring crime, they could sue for libel and/or defamation if they wanted, and you'd have to be able to prove that the facts were true. So if Freddy Krueger is a WF-substitute for a real person's name, I'd caution against using the name.
     
  5. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Nope they're all movie serial killers, no true crime.
     
  6. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Trish, baby don't let the minutia impede your progress if it is an isolated name-drop use it for now, it is an easy fix later, you feel me? Do not let perfection act as your oppressor....solider on sister!
     
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  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    could always stick a footnote reference in saying where it came from. If you do a little latin style one it won't be noticeable. Shouldn't imagine it is a problem but it is how I would do it in a non fiction piece.
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    .........
     
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  9. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    I have seen it done all the time but what do I know I only read a book a day the 17 years I was in the slammer.
     
  10. dnsralg
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    dnsralg Senior Member

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    Jason and Freddy are just names. Using Vorhees and Krueger with them might not be kosher, but if you just use first OR last you're technically not directly using someone else's character. It's up to the reader to pick up on the allusion.
     
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  11. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I want to know if I can use first AND last.. that's what I'm looking for.

    Thank all of you who have replied so far :)
     
  12. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Why subject yourself to writer on writer crime prepetrated by non readers ? Get writing, stop stalling on this non issue.
     
  13. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I'm not stalling :p I'm too exhausted to write at the moment anyway. I want to know if I can use it, and I want to know if it's legal. That's not stalling, it's questioning.
     
  14. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Georgetown Law School professor Rebecca Tushnet wrote an excellent law review article on the subject.Google her with the word copyright
     
  15. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Is there a certain thing I should be looking at? Everything I've read so far is dealing with fanfiction. That's not AT ALL what I am doing. I won't be describing the character, talking to the character, taking him anywhere, placing him anywhere, giving him a girlfriend, nothing. My original character wants to say his name (that's all) one time, to another original character. I hardly think that falls under the guidelines of fan fiction?
     
  16. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Question: How can I tell if a character I have used is copyright protected?

    Answer: The prevailing rule seems to be that a character is copyrightable separate from the original work if the character is "distinctly delineated." Authors can have a separate copyright protection for the characters in their works only if they have been developed and constitute original expression. Generic characters (the sidekick, for example) are not protected. Some courts require this delineation to be quite extensive, to the point that the character "constitutes the story being told." In Nichols v. Universal Pictures Corp., 45 F.2d 119 (2d. Cir. 1930), however, the court held that the character needs simply be more than just a "type" and this is achieved when they are drawn in considerable detail. If characters with visual images are involved (i.e., cartoons, movies, etc.), then courts are more likely to allow copyright protection because the visual image combined with conceptual qualities gives courts a more concrete sense of character delineation
     
  17. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    does that mean you CAN copyright a name??? Madness....
     
  18. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Really? I can't say his name? For real? (I honestly can't even comprehend a good bit of that in my current sleep deprived state, how humiliating)

    Okay he's copyrighted, I knew that. But is it his image or his NAME or all of it? I mean I can have a kid (not really, I'm SO done) and name him Freddy even if my last name happened to be Kreuger, and they can't sue me for that. You get what I'm saying?
     
  19. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I get what you mean. And to me copyrighting a name sounds weird, so now you can't have whichever name you want? I meaN, THERE ARE PEOPLE CALLING THEMSELVES JESUS! that name if some would be copyrighted! :D
     
  20. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    ^ Maybe his copyright ran out?
     
  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^ LOL! :D it must have.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    trish...

    bottom line is that you can refer to character names from copyrighted books/movies/whatever without permission, but can't use any of the text from same...

    you should study up on the ins and outs of 'copyright' if you want to be a writer... give the info on this site this some serious time/attention: www.copyright.gov
     
  23. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Thank you. I have, and I will continue to. I thought I could I just wanted to be absolutely sure. Thank you VERY much. That is all I want to use, the name, nothing more.
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Trish:

    You can use the names. Copyright won't be an issue in terms of you just referencing the names. If you were to use the names on, say, the cover of your book in order to attract sales, then you could run into trademark problems, but for what you're talking about don't worry.
     
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  25. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Thank you, Steerpike :D
     

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