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  1. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Mentioning famous musicians in stories

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by KP Williams, May 2, 2009.

    I wasn't sure how to word this in the search feature. Every way I tried gave me nothing, so sorry if this is a repeat.

    By "mentioning," I mean sticking the name of a musician and one of his/her songs in one sentence and leaving it at that. Here's an example of what I mean; my narrator character trying to find his ringing cell phone.

    I fumbled around in the half-darkness, reaching in the general direction of Joe Satriani's "Summer Song."

    Would it be okay to say that and leave it at that? Or should I just not mention what the ringtone is? The reason I'm even asking this is because, since it's a first person story, the narrator is definitely going to think of the name of the song when he hears it (I do, anyway, but the narrator is modeled after me...). If it were third person, I'd probably not mention what the ringtone is at all.

    Just in case I don't reply right away (I think the family and I are leaving in a few minutes), thanks in advance.
     
  2. Lavarian
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    Lavarian Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure about this. I do recall when reading R.A. Salvatore's Spearwielder's Tale that he mentioned a song and artist while the main character was singing to the radio, but I didn't look for any permissions or notes in the book.
     
  3. xxtake_controlxx
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    xxtake_controlxx Member

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    I think that's fine. I mean, names and titles aren't copyrighted. And if that's all you're saying, I don't think you have to worry. Even if you mention that your main character thinks the song is good, or even bad (which wouldn't apply in this case), it's a matter of opinion and should be fine.

    And just for clarification, a negative statement is not grounds for defamation. Especially if it is an opinion. Like, if you had you're character say, "So-and-so's song is the worst song ever written," that's not defamation because it is an opinion. At the very basic level, the defamatory statement has to be false and it has to be a statement of fact, not opinion. There's other stuff too, I felt the need to just clarify that part of the definition.

    So, yeah. I don't think putting the name and title of the song is wrong.
     
  4. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Excellent. I just wrote that the other day without thinking about it, and when I looked back at it, I started to wonder...

    Thanks again for the answers. :D
     
  5. xxtake_controlxx
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    xxtake_controlxx Member

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    Oh, sorry. Yeah, it may be different in America. Over here an opinion isn't defamation/libel; it has to be a fact. Granted, sometimes there's contention about what's opinion and what's not, because if it's an opinion but the overall implication is a fact, then it's a fact. And sometimes when you say "I think" or "In my opinion" or something along those lines, it's still a fact, regardless of the opinion language.

    And yeah, it's really hard to win a defamation case over here because all five elements of defamation have to be proven in order for the prosecution to win. And with public figures or public officials, it's even harder to prove.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    for the official word on all of this: www.copyright.gov

    all who want to be writers should familiarize themselves with the basic laws governing creative works, since it's a vital aspect of the business of being a writer...
     

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