1. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    References to other writers work

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Greenwood, Dec 10, 2014.

    Hello all,

    This is my first post on these forums, born out of curiosity. Since I am writing for quite some time now and would really appreciate to have some kind of "platform" where I can discuss my thoughts and questions with like-minded people, I decided to sign up. Pleased to meet you all :)

    The reason I am posting this thread is the following question. In the work I am currently writing on, I want to make a tribute to one of my favorite fantasy writers, J.R.R. Tolkien. It is only a very slight detail, mentioned "in between the lines" in just in a couple of sentences, yet to fans of Tolkien's work it will be very recognisable. It goes something like this; There are two main characters in my book, and at one point they meet one another. One of the characters has a dog, which is called "Huan" (Huan is, as some of you may know, a legendary dog in Tolkien's "The Silmarillion"). After inquiring into the somewhat unordinary name of the animal, the other character says that; " The name is a tribute to a great author, a man of legendary imagination, and to a masterpiece of writing that I have come to grow fond of in recent times."

    That's pretty much all that is encompasses.

    Is this tribute in any way "copyright infringement"? I will never use the name of Tolkien, nor that of his books, only of one of the minor characters in one of his works. Besides that, it is used as a praise, and in no way copies or attempts to imitate his works.

    Forgive me if there are already threads out here that adress this point, or if this is posted in the wrong section, but seeing that I wanted to join anyway I thought this was a good way to start of. Again, I am glad to have taken the step to sign up here. Looking forward to hear from you!
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2014
  2. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure why someone with more cred has not responded, but I don't see why you even begin to think there is some sort of copyright infringement with your tribute comment. If it was the use of the dog's name, I have understood that names cannot be copyrighted, even book titles.
     
  3. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Seconded. Copyright will come in when you use the works of others as your own, don't correctly attribute (or at all) quotes, plagiarise etc.

    Simply referencing an author/works is fine. Who can stop anyone calling a dog Huan? It's a popular enough Chinese name.
     
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  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's fine to use the name. You can't copyright a name. However, just as a writing issue, I would avoid the statement about "The name is a tribute..." Readers will either get the reference or they won't. And the way you've phrased it, if they don't get the reference, they're still not going to get it.
     
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  5. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    Really it just comes down to how the audience will view it. For example, if you name a character Gandalf, you won't get in trouble, but people will see that as just copying from Tolkien and a complete lack of originality. Same as if you named a character Tyrion or Daenerys now.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The name alone won't, but if you name a character Gandalf and he is a wizard with a lot of similarity to Tolkein's character, you can potentially end up with a copyright issue.
     
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  7. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    Exactly.
     

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