1. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    References to other writers

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rebel Yellow, May 17, 2013.

    This is mostly an ethical and copyright question. I was wondering if it's okay to quote a couple of words from another writer. For example, the expression "Catch 22" has become mainstream, but should I mention Joseph Heller because I'm using his concept? I'm also thinking of using a line from T.S. Eliot and was wondering if it was fine.
     
  2. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    It's perfectly fine to use quotes that have become part of the common lexicon without attributing them to their creator. But you could just as well do so if you want to. They wont mind.

    However, if you were to use a line from a famous poem, I'd would mention the author. Though, T.S. Elliot's work are in the public domain so there wont be a problem there--still, I'd attribute whatever I used to him.
     
  3. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Depends heavily on the context. The only way I would use another writer's words would be through a character's dialogue. I Also wouldn't reference it unless it was important. People get a nice little high when they recognise writing (its the same with songs), and it's not explained - it makes them feel special.

    Unless the original writer him/herself is important to plot, or the point being made - don't reference them. There's plenty of room for that at the front and back.
     
  4. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    It also depends on where you live/plan to publish.
    Countries that recognize the Berne Convention 99% of the times accept that if a phrase has been attributed a generic meaning by the public, then that phrase is public domain and the original author/copyright owner has no claim over it.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Just to be clear, when you say "Catch-22", you are not quoting a writer, you are using a common phrase (not subject to copyright) that stems from a title of a book (not subject to copyright). The problem with questions like this as they sometimes crop up on this forum is that amateur writers take the answer and try to apply it in situations were the law is different, such as a line from a work that is not subject to common usage rules and to which copyright still applies.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!

    and av cortez' remarks, as well...
     

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