1. The Crazy Kakoos
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    The Crazy Kakoos Member

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    Legalities of Real World Referrences

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Crazy Kakoos, Sep 17, 2012.

    I've always been curious, what are the legalities of referrencing something from the real world in your story?

    I see it all the time in books. Characters will drive real world cars. People will drink a Coke. A scene will have a real world band playing over the radio. Gun companies' weapons will be used by the heroes. There was even one story I've read, whose introduction in a chapter was all about how cool the band Journey is before moving on.

    Then I read stories where they seem to go out of their way to create their own car makers, sodas, bands, Vegas strip hotels, etc.

    So that made me wonder if there were legalities to those referrences/descriptions? If I wanted a character in my story for, example, to listen to AC/DC before putting boot to ass would I have to seek AC/DC's permission?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, you wouldn't, as long as you're only mentioning the group and not including any lyrics... to do the latter, you would have to get permission and it would most likely cost you...

    and yes, real people/things/companies/products/places/et al. are mentioned all the time in fiction... the problem arises only when they're maligned in any way, so can sue the author on those grounds...

    the rule of thumb is, when in doubt, ask a literary attorney... and don't rely only on the opinions of well-meaning fellow members of writing sites...
     
  3. The Crazy Kakoos
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    The Crazy Kakoos Member

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    Understood. Currently I'm working on a distant future space opera so most of what exists today is long gone, however, I was toying with the idea of referencing real world stuff as ancient things that the old world enjoyed.
     
  4. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Ever read the CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore? He references real-world stuff often, and is not afraid to come borderline insult to those stuff. There's a scene where characters argue about Arsenal vs Man Utd, and the MC is a very strong Arsenal fan.
     
  5. shaunplus
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    shaunplus Member

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    Personally I think it'd be entertaining to make up my own names for random thing brands, unless I was using a brand to make a certain point.
     
  6. serowden
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    serowden Member

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    Sometimes, I target my DIY ebook manuscripts at the indie/hardcore/punk movements, in which referencing obscure things they are familiar with is largely appealing to that demographic.

    :p
     
  7. DanesDarkLand
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    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

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    Caution is advised. Brands and such like are often trademarked. Like mama said, check with an attorney before attempting references that might seem benign. And also remember, just because someone else has done it, doesn't mean they haven't felt the long arm of the law at some time in the past. Companies like Coke have legal teams that defend the use of their name, and trademarked logos. What seems harmless to you, and maybe many other people, might infringe upon their trademarks. If your work is to be published, consult an attorney. Publishers may relish the idea of bad publicity because they make more money off sales, but you would bare the brunt of the lawsuit.

    Listen to Mama. She knows best.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not so, actually, since to do so, one would have to be doing more than just mentioning the name of the product in a written work... you can learn about trademarks and what one can and cannot do with someone else's here:

    www.uspto.gov

    what they can and often will sue over is having their product or company/store/whatever maligned...

    study up on the above site's FAQ and also on:

    www.copyright.gov
     

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