1. Mordecai
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    Mordecai Member

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    quick copyright question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mordecai, Jul 24, 2009.

    I'm doing a scene in a short where a few friends are together at a music store, and I was just wondering about the copyright laws with the following excerpt. To be honest, I don't think it needs any copyright, I'm actually promoting the artists work in itself if you think about it.

    "Danny gazed at an album cover that really struck his eye. He picked it up and noticed it was a single for Michael Jackson's old hit titled, "Thriller"."

    I honestly just typed this up but, you get the idea, it'll be along them lines. Thanks for the help if i get it. :)
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I'm not sure about the legality of it, but do you really care? I mean, independent film-making isn't about dealing with lawyers and getting permits, its about going out and making film. Just shoot it, and if anyone has a problem with it, solve it then. It just doesn't seem worth getting hung up on is all. But I'm sure someone else will give you a real answer.
     
  3. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    You can name a singer and a song's title but quoting lyrics requires permission. (And that usually means ponying up $ome dough.)
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Titles can't be copyrighted. Therefore mentioning the name "Thriller" is fine, but if you were to quote any of the lyrics, you'd need permission from the owner of the copyright (Michael Jackson's estate) which will cost you.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This site does not condone copyright violation

    arron, ignore copyright laws in any medium at your own peril. Please do not advise other members to place their own futures at risk, regardless of whatever contempt you may feel toward copyright law.

    This site fully supports all copyright and intellectual property laws. They exist to protect writers and other artists.
     
  6. Eutheria
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    Eutheria Member

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    On a related note, can you mention a product and/or its manufacturer? For example Lear Jet, C-130, Glock, or U1H1. I've recently been inspired to write a technothriller short story and it helps to be able to mention well known planes or equipment. Using television as a guide is no help since food shows won't even show a Reynolds Wrap label but the History Channel will explain all sorts of military and industrial equipment by exact model and make. Obviously I could try avoiding it but some popular references have loaded meaning that inspire feels and thought just like certain vocabulary.
     
  7. Mordecai
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    Mordecai Member

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    What if I have one of the characters singing a short line out of one of the songs?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Lyrics are copyrighted, and the music industry is very protective. You MUST get written permission, which very often will cost you money.
     
  9. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I would honestly recommend avoiding naming anything specific as it shows preference. Also, it assumes that the reader will have a common point of reference.

    One book I read ended by talking about a Celldweller song. Considering that I had never heard of Celldweller at the time, it left me very confused.

    Also, I am not 100% - but I'm fairly certain that you can use makes and models of things freely.

    For instance Mercedes Kompressor. I don't think there are any legal ramifications for using that name without permission - though as I said, I'm not 100% certain.
     
  10. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yeah, you can use model and make names. However, you should be careful that what you say about them can't be construed as defamation.
     
  11. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    This is probably true, especially if you launch into a diatribe about the quality of service for something specific.

    That's why I recommend not using specific names at all, at least not from the real world.

    If I craft an imaginary company called Intergalactic Autoparts I can trash them all day long. Or better yet, I can just call it the parts store.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and be sure to spell their brand names properly and capitalize them...

    all the cautions about using song lyrics are valid... take them seriously!

    and all new writers should familiarize themselves with the law, so they won't have to ask others for answers they can easily have gotten on their own, at:
    www.copyright.gov
     
  13. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    Like others have said: Lyrics are copyrighted. Song titles and band names are not.

    I do remember reading a few books a long time ago that mentioned a real-world song/band. I forgot who it was and what the book was called, but I remember it was done. I don't think that book used any lyrics, though.

    You could also avoid copyright entirely by doing what some other people (and mangaka) do and either tweak the name or make a different name that relates to the name you wanted to use.

    Example:

    I assume that the name "Jabberwocky" is copyrighted by whoever owns Lewis Carrol's copyright (if anyone owns it at all). The creator and artist of Pandora Hearts recently revealed a chain/monster in the manga based on that creature but he named the chain "Jabberwock". Simple tweak and international copyright is avoided :).
     
  14. Mordecai
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    Mordecai Member

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    Copyright is stupid, I mean it isn't really, but to an extent. Everything I have read here just ruins a lot of dialogue in my story. I mean seriously, say even if a popular artist does read my story and reads the lines where his lyrics are mentioned, followed by his own name in the next sentence, you would think that most people would be thrilled to see their name pop up in something random. But no, the world is hungry I guess.

    I think I would rather write it, and get sued by the artist, just to embarrass him in court of what a money hungry, overrated clown that he or she is. They should be happy that their name is still making its way through people's ears. But hey, copyright is copyright, and I should change up my dialogue I suppose. :)

    Thanks for everyones knowledge and help on the subject.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Chances are, YOU are benefitting more from his lyrics in your writing than the other way around. So YOU are capitalizing off someone else's hard work.

    If you plan to be a writer, don't forget that copyright laws are in place to protect YOU.
     
  16. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Exactly. Copyright is not stupid, it keeps you from gaining from other people's hard work unfairly.
     
  17. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    @Morde: True as that may be, free advertising can only go so far before it's actual infringement. There is a reason why fan art and fan fiction are in the "gray zone" of legal issues (and to my understanding there's currently an effort to include fan-made music videos in that zone).

    And like I said, you don't have to replace your whole dialouge. I don't think anyone will sue you if you tweak something to such an extent that it no longer is the original but looks/sounds/resembles the original thing you were using.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Whether or not you have managed to obfuscate the writing such that its source is barely recognizable, it is STILL a copyright violation, as long as you began with a piece of someone else's writing.

    This site does not condone any recommendations of how to get away with copyright infringement. We fully support respect for writers' original work, and recommend that members understand and comply with all copyright laws.
     
  19. Mordecai
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    Mordecai Member

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    I know exactly what you're talking about. I didn't exactly mean any of that in a bad way, it's just my way of rambling about how people should be more open minded towards things and stop putting a wall in front of every great idea. I fully understand and agree what copyright is all about. I'm just mad these walls in front of me ruined a scene of mine. :)
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't!... because names contained in copyrighted works can't be copyrighted... only the complete work can...

    however, names of characters can and often are trademark protected, when they are used for peripheral marketing purposes... such as 'batman' and 'superman' and other popular figures...

    learn the real skinny, before making assumptions that can mislead folks... go to:
    www.uspto.gov and www.copyright.gov

    those official sites will give you the letter of the law in both cases... any country that is also a signatory to the berne convention will have similar laws...
     
  21. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    @mamma: ...Isn't "trademark" the same as copyright? Both of them stop people from using names/works for their own reasons and both of them require permission to use.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. A trademark is a unique word or phrase registered to a trademark owner. It must be applied for and approved. Copyright is a protection attached to an entire creative work (story, poem, painting, photograph, statue, etc) that automatically is in effect as soon as the work is instantiated on a durable medium.
     
  23. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    Ah, I see....but to use a name that might be trademarked, you would still require permission from the trademark holder, right?
     
  24. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Correct.
     
  25. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    American Psycho was loaded with brand references, and I'm pretty sure there wasn't made any clearing with the various companies first. That would have taken ages. At some point he's even going into a deep review of Huey Lewis and the News, while chopping a guy up with an axe.

    Fiction is art. I think it falls under some sort of artistic impression section in the copyright laws? (Can't bring myself to read them all, not at this point)
     

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