1. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    Real life reference

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by afrodite7, Jul 17, 2012.

    -I'm writing a story that takes place in an alternate future.Can I make reference to places that really exist,like McDonalds,or Boarders book store or reference websites like Youtube,companies like Sprint or Mattel and not get into legal trouble.Like say if I a character said 'Mattel started Making Robot Barbie and discontinued the old line becaus they stopped selling',or 'Its year 2030 and somehow they still take too forever to make food in McDonalds',or possibly, 'I know someone out there's gonna post this on Youtube',after witnessing something happen.Can I still do this?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, you can... it's done all the time... but you do have to be sure not to cast any real business in a negative light and leave yourself open to being sued...

    btw, it's 'borders' not 'boarders'... and i think it's gone out of business and closed all its retail stores...
     
  3. Jamie Senopole
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    Jamie Senopole Member

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    Hi, that's an interesting question. I don't know the legal answers to this but all I can tell you is that I have read a series where they did mention brand names and also real celebrities too. Like the MC loved to go to Starbucks, and they went to Pier One to dress up their dorm, and they mentioned a few celebrities names too, in conversation. So I know it's possible, I just don't know the legal aspects of it.
     
  4. penlopephx
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    penlopephx New Member

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    Getting into speculative fiction almost on deciding what will be around in eighteen years or so. Me? I seems to make references that are like at least ten years or more older (The exclusion of a vampire referring to another sarcastically as Edward Cullen.) because it makes it harder to date my stuff. But that's just me. It helps me avoid the legal question because unless it's copyrighted (depending on the country) gets interesting...or so I suspect.
     
  5. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    Things like McDonalds is a Trademark and YouTube possible too. You can use them, but you want to be careful about using them in a way that's negative.

    If there negative veiw is possible, then I don't they would be able to, though it might not stop them from trying. If you said someone got McDonalds, stuffed their face to much and chocked or got the food to go and got hit by a car when they left the building, stuff like that could happen anywhere, it could be food they made themself or they could simple just be crossing the road. But this is just my view on the matter.

    Anyways, I did a bit of research earlier because of a recent idea I got and these two articles I thought useful:
    http://www.dailywritingtips.com/use-of-trademark-names-in-fiction/
    http://writingonthewallblog.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/using-trademarks-in-fiction.html
    Maybe they'll help you.
     
  6. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    In the United States, yes you can. If it is a fictional character in a novel talking about brands the like or dislike, you are fine. Harry Dresden battled a plant-monster in a Wal-mart once. Now they didn't say Wal-mart was run by an evil cabal of plant-monsters, the battle just took place there. But the latter scenario is fine too. At worst it would fall under the category of satire, which is protected by Fair Use under US Copyright Law. A fictional novel is not held to the same standards that a supposed non-fictional article claiming that McDonald's murders third-world chidren for hamburger meat. Though it would explain the lack of flavor in the meat...

    I do this all the time in the urban fantasy I'm writing, mostly with the MC referencing Buffy, Twilight, The Vamprie Chronicles, and other supernatural shows. And not in a derogatory way. Some of them she finds "cute".

    Though as noted by other posters, you should be weary about dating the work. I would be more concerned with getting bogged down in hating other works. I despise a lot of urban fantasy, but don't let that taint my own work. A joke here and there is one thing. Basing one work around another (too heavily inspired by or in opposition against) is something else.
     

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