1. TheLightRoom
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    TheLightRoom New Member

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    Permissions Required?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by TheLightRoom, Jul 6, 2015.

    In my novel I want to talk about a specific energy healing modality. I want my main character to experience it and talk about it. Are there any legal restrictions on this with the people who created this healing work? Do I need permission from the founders of this method in order to write about it?
     
  2. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    It doesn't sound like something you'd need permission to write about. Now if you wanted to set up an actual practice using that technique, then I would look into getting permission.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Doesn't seem likely it would cause a legal issue. What legal issues are you concerned about? Intellectual property rights, defamation, something else?
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Did the founders copyright the method? You could give it a different name, make it different enough that you aren't directly writing about it. If you don't make money off the method directly I believe that falls into fair use. But if you make them look bad and use a copyrighted name you might incur legal costs if they sue you. If you are not going to make them look bad, then you probably don't have to worry.

    It's just easier to alter the method and name in your story.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You can't really copyright a method. You can copyright a given expression of the method, but that's not going to protect against independent expression of the same methodology. You can't get a copyright on the name of the method, either - you'd have to go for a trademark on it, and use of a trademark in a story doesn't generally give rise to legal issues, though under certain circumstances it could.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    For reference, 17 USC 102(b):

    "In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work."
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I defer to your legal expertise but there are examples of some part of the processes being protected. If one searches for, 'is Dianetics copyrighted' one gets this:
    WHY IS EVERYTHING COPYRIGHTED AND TRADEMARKED IN SCIENTOLOGY?

    Other examples:
    Atkins diet: Atkins.com Terms of Use

    Primal [scream] Therapy: Copyright © 2008 Dr. Arthur Janov's Primal Center

    So I guess one would be wise to start by seeing what is copyrighted. If the methods are not, then it should be easy to side-step any copyrighted materials or trademarks.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Terms and conditions and other contractual obligations are different. It's always a good idea to look at the enforceability of these, but in general you can be bound by contract to limit yourself in ways that you aren't limited by IP law itself. For example, if I sign a Confidentiality Agreement in exchange for someone divulging a method to me, then I am contractually bound against sharing the contents of the method with others. Doesn't matter if they have a patent or other IP protection. If I violate the agreement, the other party will have a civil breach of contract claim against me.

    I don't know much about Scientology, but from what I understand, they require you to sign Confidentiality Agreements. Absent some contractual provision, Scientology can't stop people using their methods. They can stop people using their specific materials (covered by copyright), and their name and other trademarks.

    There are some limits to how much you can counter IP law through contract. For example, there have been efforts by patent owners to pull licensees into licensing agreement that extend beyond the term of the patent, so that even after the patent expires the licensee is stuck paying royalties. The Courts have rejected contractual provisions that impose royalties on a licensee after the expiration of patent, however, as being contrary to good public policy, which is that the public is meant to get the benefit of the patented subject matter after the patent expires.

    Also, it's worth mentioning that entities with a lot of money, like Scientology, can make life miserable for people using their methods, even if ultimately the Scientologists would likely lose if a case went to court. Not many people have $300K to $500K to spend on trademark or copyright litigation, and these days that's cheap if you go all the way through trial. I've seen cases hit $200K before the parties get all the way through discovery.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I was going to say, you're right, you don't know Scientology. :p

    But then you added:
    Exactly.
     
  10. Wrizzy
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    Just a note, I've observed that many people who are into energy healing or promote those modalities, tend to encourage the spreading of knowledge in that area. If they want people to heal, and you are exposing the modality in a positive way, I would bet they would very supportive of your use.
     

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