1. Jefferson27
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    Jefferson27 Member

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    Conflicting title names

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Jefferson27, Jul 11, 2011.

    I know there are copyrights for books/movies, which I assume go same for the title names, but in general I do not fully understand where the line is because you do see names of movies and books from different decades or whatever that have the same name. I know sometimes they would get permission(especially in case of remakes) but what about just coincidences or where the plot has no resemblance. For example, I am about to have my book published and the name currently is 'Identity'. However when I google that, a 2003 movie with John Cusack was named that. So what are the rules here? Should I select a new name? Thank you for any help you can give me.
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've heard the opposite, that there usually is no copyright connected to the titles (unless in extreme cases) but I don't know if that was valid for sweden only or in general... ? I don't think there is...
     
  3. Jefferson27
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    Jefferson27 Member

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    I have a feeling that some of it has to do with gaining revenue from their property or namesake. For instance I wouldn't think I could publish something with the name Lord of the Rings because I would get some sales just as spill off. Same as I couldn't have a writing name of Stephen King. Although I just found out that technically for a title it is a trademark and not a copyright.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Titles are not long enough to have copyright protection. A title may also be a trademark, in which case you'll want to avoid using it as such. For example, a book title with "Harry Potter and the..." at the beginning of it is probably going to run into some major trademark issues, unless you can fall into the safe harbor of parody or satire (in the U.S.), and even then if you get sued it is going to cost you A LOT of money to go to trial and win.
     
  5. Jefferson27
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    Jefferson27 Member

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    Okay, maybe more importantly, what is a more appealing title to you?
    1) Identity or 2) Finality of Reality
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I prefer "Identity."
     
  7. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some names are trademarked, but other names are too well known to use. Even if it was 'legal' to use Lord of the Rings or Dune as a title, I wouldn't do it. Even before PJ made the three (and three dozen extended editions) :p of LotRO, the books were quite popular. If you were to write a book called Lord of the Rings, people simply wouldn't take it seriously. Same with Dune, Star Wars, Star Trek and so on.

    But as for it being legal... there is a movie studio (forgot the name, sorry) that keeps making low-budget versions of popular movies. On top of my head, I can mention The DaVinci Treasure, Quarterman and the Crystal Skull, Snakes on a train, 30.000 Leagues under the sea, and of course, War of the Worlds and War of the Words 2. (no, not the Tom Cruise-movies. The other one. Released the same year, based on the same story.) The list goes on, but you get the idea. You can go quite far and get away with it. If that's a good idea, on the other hand... :p
     
  8. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    In general, titles and ideas cannot be copyrighted, though there are some exceptions. Still, it's probably best to avoid titles similar to other works (if you can) as that may confuse or turn away folks looking for your work.
     
  9. Jefferson27
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    Jefferson27 Member

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    I tend to agree that it would not be a good idea to use Lord of the Rings, etc. and since I have made an honest effort and wrote a credible book I would not do it, nor would I use Stephen King as my pen name. However, I could see some people doing it, if they did not have a credible book or put in hundreds of hours of work on it.
    I was mostly just trying to make sure I did not unintentionally break some law.
    Thank you for your responses.
     
  10. [ESCAPE]
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    [ESCAPE] Member

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    There aren't any copyright issues with titles, but you shouldn't use the titles of really popular stories etc. Like others have said the titles "Harry Potter" or "Lord of the Rings" would make me go wtf... The pen name as Stephen King, as well, would make me have a distaste for the book. Most of Stephen King's TITLES, however, would be fine--along with most other books and movies in this world.

    Identity would be a great title.
     
  11. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I once heard that there are over twenty different songs all with the title 'The Power of Love', so my thought would be that a simple title not instantly identifiable to another work should be alright. Names on the other hand might be seen as a not particularly subtle way of connecting your book with another author's work to obtain pecuniary advantage, and you might well be sued. I would absolutely not have a book with Harry Potter in the title for example. It would just be asking for trouble. If on the other hand however, you happen to actually be a Mr Stephen King, then you could probably use your own name.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  12. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I was thinking that. There are probably writers that have the same name, but I guess not all as prolific as Mr. King.

    As for the title, you should be ok. Just out of curiosity I looked up 'Identity' and found there is more than one movie alone with that title. It's not something that everyone would go and say "that's a rip-off!"
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Interestingly, there have been cases where a person was prevented from using his personal name in connection with certain goods because of trademark issues.
     
  14. Jefferson27
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    Jefferson27 Member

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    Just for the record I wasn't actually thinking of using either Stephen King as my pen name or LOTR character or title similarity either, haha. Was just using that as an example people would be aware of. The broader point is almost any title picked at random is bound to have at least a decent chance of being the same as some title over the decades of a book or movie or both. There have been a ton of both.

    For example another google search has found that there was a book by a french author named Identity in the 90s. But from this discussion it seems like I am in the clear. I basically new that, 99%, but also nice to be 100% sure about some things.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, you're clear Jefferson. I wouldn't worry about it at all.
     
  16. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    I think one word titles would be fine. I work in a bookstore and we have at least two books called "Remember me" (one by Derek Hanson, the other Sophie Kinsella) and several called "Mercy" along with other books with similar titles, if not exactly the same. "Identity", I'm sure, would be fine.

    I also found on a search of our website a self-published book called "the Vampire with a Dragon Tattoo" that did not seem to be about vampires, but did seem to be an amusing way of making people find your book (I was searching for "dragon tattoo" at the time because I couldn't be bothered typing the full title).

    The working name for my current novel is "Lore of the Ringtails" because it is set in an alternate-world Madagascar and all the characters are lemurs (although only one is a ringtail) but I'll likely change that at some point. It just amuses me at the present and I can't think of anything better.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    many books and movies have the same titles... it's not a problem other than your book/screenplay not having a more original one... there's no legality involved, unless what you want to use is trademark protected...


    study up on the facts:
    www.uspto.gov
    www.copyright.gov
     
  18. Phantom_Brainwash
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    Phantom_Brainwash Member

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    As everyone's said, stick away from the well known like HP, LOTR, SW, ST and CoN, I mean I've got like 3 different songs called Awake all about vastly different things from different artists, different from books but still...I also own a book called The Awakening by Kelly Armstrong. In fact, I searched said title on Amazon in books only I got 8,658 results, are all of them exact matches, no, but that doesn't really matter.
     

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