1. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Using already established names

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by KP Williams, May 2, 2008.

    Okay, so I couldn't come up with a better title for the thread. Sorry.

    Anyway. Throughout my writing, I occasionally slip in the name of a song, band, movie, etc. or a line or two of a song's lyrics. Is this allowed? Or would I have to get permission for that? Also, one of my major characters is a musician and I have a specific brand of guitar in mind for her. It's not an instance where I could just generally describe the guitar and leave out the brand; she is almost literally in love with this instrument, so the brand and model would be among the first things mentioned when she thinks about it. Again, allowed or no?
     
  2. Shreyass
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    Shreyass Senior Member

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    When publishing you would need permission I guess, but since you're just writing for fun, for now atleast, nobody's going to sue you.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure as to the answer for your question, but I do have a bit of advice. If the story is not being marketed to a very specific audience, care should be taken in over-branding your story. I made the mistake of mentioning, just in passing, a band name in a story I wrote and because the reader was unaware of the band, the reader's concentration on my storyline got derailed. I spent half an hour explaining and then playing music from the band and at the end of the half hour I realised that my story had been forgotten. The band is already succesful (Zero 7) and they don't need a plug from me. I have yet to attain success and I need my reader's full attention.
     
  4. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    Generally speaking, referencing brand names, song titles and singers/bands is allowed - lyrics are a different matter entirely because they are subject to copyright, and you need permission to use them.

    Hope that helps.
    :)
     
  5. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    I've seen books titled 'Dancing at the Piggly Wiggly'. I always site those when people worry about referencing common things. While band names are slightly different, Gone Wishing's right--just don't quote the lyrics. If you mention an especially ephemeral band, though, your story might wind up sounding dated or even obscure, so I'd be careful with it.
     
  6. para_noir
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    para_noir Member

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    I have a question related to this....in the book i'm writing...theres a character named Violet.

    there is a scene where random lines from songs play in her head....just a few words tho..not the entire song....is that illegal? do i need permission to use those words?
     
  7. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    So basically, band names and such are allowed, but lyrics should be avoided if possible, right? Sounds simple enough. Thanks for the help. :)

    That's what I've been doing, para_noir. Just inserting a few words from songs now and then. For example, one of my characters was completely unused to how automobiles worked, so when he said to the man at a gas station, "Give me fuel," the employee said, "Give me fire," referencing a Metallica song. Of course, that sounds awkward, so I got rid of it, but it was just an example.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no etched-in-stone rules re how many words/lines you can use without getting permission first... you can find the basic laws/rules here:

    www.copyright.gov

    they will be basically the same for all countries that are signatories to the berne convention... brand names are used all the time, but are usually not a good idea, since they won't be universally known unless as 'generic' as 'coke' and 'ford'...

    no matter what you use, the editors at wherever you may be lucky enough to get a publishing contract will have the final say over what can stay in and what can't, so it's best to give them as little to have to bother with as possible, imo...
     
  9. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    To give some perspective on using other's lyrics, think of how you'd feel if someone quoted lines of your writing, especially without citing you.
     
  10. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the link, mammamaia. I'll bookmark it for future reference. And I see what you mean about the brand names. I suppose a specific guitar model wouldn't really be needed. As for the guitar manufacturer... I'll just have to see how it turns out. I haven't actually written anything for this particular character yet.

    To be honest, if someone used my lyrics in a piece of literature, I wouldn't mind that much. But not everybody is like me... and now that I think about it, Metallica isn't really known for allowing people to take their works without asking. :p I'll just stick to making my own lyrics now.

    Again, thanks for the responses. I'd always been concerned about whether I was going too far or not.
     
  11. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Gibson SG Special?

    Does anyone know if he could make a parody of the name? That would hint towards it, but avoid using it directly.
     
  12. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    Sure, name parodys have been done before. Usually in comedy, but in any light-hearted fic it should work.
     
  13. nacreous
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    nacreous New Member

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    I have to say that any title must be original. I just think the author has the responsibility to the world to come up with an original title. Using another's title is like stealing to me, but hey, thats just me. if you dont mind it, go for it. Me, I could never do that. Even when I wrote stories based on another's work, I still used my own title.
    Just an opinion. dont get upset.
    Cheers.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    titles are often duped and it's perfectly legal, since they can't be copyrighted... but i agree that it's best to have a title that isn't already in use...
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Certainly if your title is the same as another well-known piece, your work will be viewed in a context that includes the other piece. Not a good thing, if you want your work to be considered solely on its own merits.
     
  16. FinalConflict
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    FinalConflict Member

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    I don't think you'd need to ask permission depending on what you are using.
    Like, as an example, say you name one of your characters Naruto, the author of Naruto can't sue you for using the name, because that's a name, it's not his.
    But say you use the phrase, "What's The Story Morning Glory" or "Hump De Bump", they stand out and you immediately think Oasis or Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I don't think they can really sue you, cause it's not like you put the song in there, it's just a phrase. Although if you do plan to use excerpts from Oasis songs I suggest making them subtle because their Lawyer is fairly itchy to sue somebody.
     
  17. Snap
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    Snap Member

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    So, I haven't read all the posts in this thread, so I apologize if I'm being redundant. As was said before, I think, I believe if it's a commonly used name of a book, movie, band, etc, it's fine, but once you go into what's contained in that (i.e. excerpts, lyrics, lines, etc.) you might need to pay royalties, if you ever wanted to get it published. And, if you WERE looking to get this published, you might want to rethink this all together. Another thing this does is date your piece, which is something you might or might not want to avoid. It's up to you. Just something to think about. :)

    --Snap
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    some names, though not able to be copyrighted, are registered trademarks, thus can't be used without permission... so it's best not to use well-known ones without checking first...
     

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