1. Cholula
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    Cholula New Member

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    Turns out my fictional premise already exists...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cholula, Mar 5, 2013.

    Hi!
    I am 6000 words deep into a fiction novel and a recent revelation has stopped me dead in my tracks. I am writing about a character who creates an organization and I have discovered that not only does a very similar concept already exist, but it exists in the exact city and neighborhood I have set my story in. If I go on with my story as planned, I would likely not have this real-life place exist in my setting, but it will seem as if I got the idea from it. Is this ok? Legal? Another option would be to change the location, which I would rather not. A variation would be to use the city/neighborhood and rename them so as not to draw associations. That's not as fun though cause people would enjoy reading about this real-life city. I was not surprised to find a similar organization existed, but it's just that it's in the same location I want to write about! BTW, the story is not just about the forming of this establishment, but personal conflict between characters as a result of it. What should I do?
     
  2. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Yes. Ideas are not subject to copyright. Neither are premises, settings, etc. Your story will undoubtedly be different.

    What should you do? Keep writing as if nothing is wrong, because there isn't. Maybe read that other work to see what they did, and feel free to take some of their ideas and play with them. So long as you don't copy/paste nearly-verbatim excerpts from their story into yours, you're fine.
     
  3. Cholula
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    Cholula New Member

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    Sorry, I made that unclear... there is no other book following this concept (that I know of)-- it's a real-life situation that is parallel to my story.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Oh, interesting. Quite the coincidence, but in no way is it illegal nor unethical. If you get famous off it, some people may think you based it off the story, but you can always clarify in your interview with Oprah :D
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm quite sure there are more than a few novels that parallel/mirror/copy real-life events... like thousands...
     
  6. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    It seems to me that, not knowing about either the organisation or the city, you have the option to change either. If you want to keep the city, change the organisation. It doesn't have to be much. A new name and a slightly different function, parallel perhaps but not the same. Or else you can run with it as it stands. I on't think you'll be in any great trouble, bearing in mind that I don't know what the organisation is.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  7. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Keep on with it.
     
  8. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    I wouldn't worry about that. I'd just finish it. Note there's always a disclaimer, put in by the publisher, regarding events and people that seem similar being coincidences.
     
  9. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    If you're not portraying the organisation badly, I'd write to them, explain about your novel, and quiz them for some extra background/research details.
     
  10. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    For all we know he might be writing about the mafia. I would really like to see the reaction of a Don Corleone receiving a letter saying someone wants to write a book about his famiglia.
     
  11. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    Well, the worst our Don could do is say no, right? ;)
     
  12. Mot
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    Mot Member

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    That's cute.
     
  13. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    Or he could make him an offer he cant refuse :p

    As for originality no story is 100% original they all been told in some way or another, even if there was a book with the same setting i wouldnt worry about it as you will be telling it from another view point.
     
  14. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    What i am worried about is the manner in which he would say so.
     
  15. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I'm Welsh - and proud!

    I just wanted to say I love this - made me feel motivated! :p
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you need to be asking a literary attorney, not writing site members... if the real organization doesn't like what you write about them, even if it's fiction, they can sue you for all you own and ever will own...

    to be on the safe side and save attorney's fees, i strongly suggest you change the name of the organization and make sure your fictional one doesn't resemble the real one in any way...
     
  17. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Real life inspiration without knowledge of it

    I've done it before, I found out and researched it and got even more ideas off of it

    GREEN LIT!
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'ignorance of the law is no excuse' ;)
     
  19. Cholula
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    Cholula New Member

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    Guess I was being too paranoid (no wonder I haven't finished a book yet). I hadn't written anything in two weeks and I added another 1000 words after I was reassured by your responses. Thank you guys so much!

    I'm sure the Don will understand after he sees my interview with Oprah. ;)
     
  20. Aspiring Writer
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    Aspiring Writer New Member

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    You can always put a disclaimer on your dust jacket. It's a pretty common practice. In fact this disclaimer has its own Wikipedia entry! That's how common it is. :) So you should definitely be safe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    more bad advice, sorry to say... adding the disclaimer is not 100% protection against being sued... if you're not a practicing literary attorney with a good win record, please don't be giving out legal advice as if it's etched in stone...

    and fyi, the disclaimer never appears on the dust jacket... it goes on the publishing info page... so you really need to be more careful about any advice you hand out, aw... i'm sure you mean well, but giving new writers false hope and leading them into what can be serious legal wrangles is not doing anyone any favors...
     

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