1. hal10001
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    hal10001 New Member

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    Do you use real Web site names in your stories?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hal10001, Apr 20, 2009.

    I was questioning whether or not to use Digg and Hacker News in my short story recently. In the end I used the generic "social news" moniker. My fear is that Web sites come and go, and that it will date the story if it goes. Any thoughts on that?
     
  2. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    It's up to you really. Are you going to establish what these websites are or just assume your reader knows?
     
  3. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I only use the names of well-known sites like Google and Yahoo. Otherwise, I don't even say what the name of the site is at all.

    As for dating the story, so what? If those sites are around when the story takes place, that should be all that matters. If, at some point in the future when the site in question no longer exists, someone reads your story and goes "What the *swearword of the future* is 'Digg'?", he can look it up. If he doesn't want to, oh well.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is also the possibility of litigation if something you attribute to a real web site is interpreted by them as degamatory to their image.
     
  5. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    Unless the website is particularly relevant to the plot, it's probably not worth the reader's attention of naming it specifically - if it is relevant to the plot, it might still be better to invent your own similar fictional website for the sake of a) not needing to specifically research it and being able to tweak functionality to fit the plot (naturally!) and b) not drawing attention away from your story and towards the real website. (If you particularly wanted to emphasis the contemporary setting and included other specific labels and names then it wouldn't be a problem so much.)
     
  6. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    Personally, I wouldn't. Not only would it open you up to litigation but those people 'in the know' might find themselves thinking "You can't do that on that particular website" which could break the reality you are creating. You could use terms that are being used in today's society. You should have no problem saying 'googling' for example, as this has passed in to the vernacular.
     
  7. WrongWriter
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    WrongWriter Banned

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    The threat of litigation is WAY to large a bugaboo in the minds of new writers.

    First of all, names like cnn.com or Sears or whatever are part of the world and can be used, just like Park Avenue or Scotland Yard.

    Second, it there ARE concerns of this nature they aren't the writer's responsibility. We aren't lawyers. If somebody buys the work and wants to publish it, THEIR lawyers will get it right to their satisfaction.

    So relax. We write better when we're relaxed.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The names are not te issue. The issue is more to do with how the site is portrayed. The USA in particular is quite litigious, especially when dollar signs begin flashing in corportae eyes.

    There is no harm in being overly cautious, but the potential expense of being insufficiently cautious should not be dismissed lightly.
     
  9. grnidone
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    grnidone Member

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    Would it matter if the story is fiction?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not if the site is real, and portrayed in a light that the site owner deems unfavorable.
     
  11. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    And defamation is considered a crime. Although it's only defamation if whatever is being said about it is false. If it's true, then it can't be considered defamation. Just like political candidates can't accuse another of having an affair, but they can state that another is having an affair if there is legitimate proof of said affair.

    I'd honestly just avoid using it altogether and create my own site...that way, no issue of litigation comes up.

    ~Lynn
     
  12. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    Thinly veiled parodies are clearly the way to go!

    "Is it just me, or was something ... off about Nick today?" I asked, frowning slightly.
    "Yeah, now that you mention it. Maybe we should bake him a cake or something, heh," Daniel smirked.
    "I'm serious!"
    "Oh my god, you are." Daniel rolled his eyes and sighed. "Alright. Where do you keep your recipe books?"
    "Eh? Don't need any. I'll just Goggle one."

    (Later.)

    "Hey, this is a good site. You should definitely Shovell it."
     
  13. WrongWriter
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    WrongWriter Banned

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    It's just not worth worrying about this stuff, seriously. Honestly. For real.
    The law doesn't hinge on what anybody "deems" for one thing.
    But more importantly, it doesn't, obviously, matter in unpublished work. And if the work is published it gets sorted out by the publisher's legal vetting system.

    Has anybody here ever heard of somebody having to pay damages to anybody for using the name of a site like Google or YouTube or whatever?

    It's just not a concern. Honest injun.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Defamation suits do occur, and thius is a litigious society. You may not think it's worth worrying about, but whay take the chance?

    People publishe without publishers, by the way. Posting on a web site qualifies as publishing, and no lawyers get involved unless someone sues.

    You may decide for yourself that the risk is negligible. If you turn out to be wrong, and someone does get sued for taking your advice, what will you say?

    "Oops. Sorry."
     
  15. WrongWriter
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    WrongWriter Banned

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    What chance would anybody be taking?

    That somebody would sue them for something that wasn't published?
    Or that their work got published and somebody decided to sue the writer instead of the publisher since writers have so much more money?

    Yes, defamation suits occur. My question was has anybody ever, ever, ever heard of a suit like this? I'm saying "no", but open to being proven wrong.

    Another note here: yes the US is very suit-happy. One result of that is that you can get sued no matter WHAT you do. McDonalds was sued because somebody spilled hot coffee in their lap.

    People just don't sue writers. What would be the point?????? They might sue a publisher or publication, but that is THEIR lookout.

    Again, the internet bristles will all these "writer beware" things that just are not based on any sort of reality.
    Furthermore, one can easily examine the actual reality (published work) and find examples of pretty much every thing that people warn about. Including, in this case, people mentioning websites, TV networks, stores, etc. by name. Just like they mention cities, famous people, product brands, etc. by name.

    Any time you hear somebody telling people "Ooooo, don't say "Sears" or "Ford" because you might get sued, you look into it and find out they have never sold anything and don't work for a publication. They heard about in on the internet, probably.

    ONCE AGAIN... don't "look over your shoulder" while writing. Do what you think your story calls for. If there are legal concerns when you're through, talk to lawyers about it.
    If you don't sell the piece, there is no worry. If you do, it's the worry of the legal advisors of the publication involved.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Again, if YOU think the threat is negligible, go rigjt ahead. To tell otyher people that there is no threat is irresponsible if you do not know it for a fact. You yourself admitted that you may be wrong. You say you are open to being proven wrong, but whether or not you or anyone on this site personally knows of any such cases does not mean they do not exist, and will not exist.

    Why not be prudent, especially if you have no compelling NEED to use a real website? I don't personally know of anyone who has been severely burned by exhaling propane and lighting it, but isn't it rather stupid to do it for no good reason?

    This is just wrong. Whether or not you make a profit has NO BEARING on defamation suits. If you post your writing, it is published. If you publish through a publisher and the lawyer who looks over your piece is hung over that day, do you think that will indemnify you from responsibility?

    Please do not counsel people to ignore caution unless you know for a fact that there is no risk.
     

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