1. adam33
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    adam33 New Member

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    Dropping names: How legal is this?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by adam33, Oct 29, 2011.

    What problems does one run into when 'dropping' names in writing?

    For example, in the second chapter of the story I've just written, the protagonist is watching a sitcom and notices that one of the actors has changed quite a lot since the sitcom was made (e.g., Blackadder the Third and Hugh Laurie).

    Another example: my protagonist finds that a Honda motorcycle suddenly materialises in the middle of a room.

    Should I find a publisher that is all giddy with excitement and wants to discuss printing my book, would I be asked to not mention names? Or would they simply gloss over the fact that I've blatantly compared one of my characters to, say, Mr Bean?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no legal impediment or risk to using the names of public figures, actors, show/movie titles or brand names in your fiction, as long as you don't say anything derogatory about them that you can be sued for...
     
  3. adam33
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    adam33 New Member

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    Ah. So cracking that joke about how Helen Keller could lip sync better than Cher...probably should take that out, I guess...

    Thanks!
     
  4. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    It's OK if it's true. ;)
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    being true doesn't always keep one from being sued... you'd have to prove it's true in court, if dragged there by the 'injured' party and that will cost ya big time!
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    And truth is not always a defence against libel. On the other hand, if it's stated as opinion -- "I reckon Helen Keller could lip sync better than Cher" -- I think you are on much safer ground, especially if it's a fictional character saying it. I am not a lawyer, of course, and nothing I say should be taken as legal advice.

    Of course, you can be as much in the right as you like, that doesn't mean you won't get sued and have to spend a lot of time and money defending yourself. It just means that you should be able to defend yourself if it comes to that.
     
  7. Chad J Sanderson
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    Chad J Sanderson Member

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    All good advice. I think that unless you're book becomes a mega-hit, and even then, most celebrities probably won't pay it much mind. Secondly, I don't think you can get in trouble for any comment that is an opinion. There's no way to know that Helen Keller could lip synch better than Cher, so it couldn't really be pursued in a lawsuit. As long as you don't push what you say about celebrities as a fact, you should be fine.
     

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