1. im6661999
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    im6661999 New Member

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    using names of books and companies in fiction

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by im6661999, Dec 13, 2010.

    hello

    i am new to fiction writing and was so glad to find this forum. i have an idea for a book that involves using names of other fiction and non-fiction books and their authors to tell the story (story is completely fictional though).

    what are the rules regarding use of real names (authors) and their books in my fiction story? do i need to get 'clearance' from them?

    assuming i cant use their names, if i create fictitious names and books that resemble the real authors/books - does that create any corpyright issues?

    thanks for your help
     
  2. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Sticky ground there, Fair Use rights are being trampled in the USA. Fair Use is now an affirmative defense in a lawsuit, rather than a bar to filing the lawsuit in the first place.

    If you can mimic other's style then it becomes satire, but if you use their works, you then run into copyright violations if you're not operating under Fair Use.. but that still won't stop the origional authors or representatives suing you.
     
  3. sereda008
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    sereda008 Senior Member

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    I believe there will be no issues if the people you are going to write about agree.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'fair use' does not apply to fiction, or anything else of a commercial nature... one should be familiar with the rules governing this exception, before referring to it in advising others:

    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

    titles and author's names can be used freely in fiction... excerpts from the works cannot, if they're still under copyright... see for yourself what can and cannot be done:
    http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/

    however, if you malign the work or the author, said author may sue your pants off...
     
  5. im6661999
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    im6661999 New Member

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    ======================

    thank you all for your responses...

    can i, for example, use a series of books such as tom clancy fictions and write a fiction story about the books/stories? say if i were to spin a story about some controversy that was embedded in the books written by tom clancy. would that fall under 'fair use' or would that be a problem?

    or if used a non-fiction series such as books about astronomy and spun a story about controversy/major secret hidden in the books, etc. etc.?
     
  6. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    Personally I would stay away from using real-life books and authors in this way. It's easy enough to make up a fictional book/author whose work contained some kind of controversy/secret, and that way you can say whatever you want about the book/author without worrying about being sued.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure what you're getting at here. Fair Use and its precursors have always been a defense to allegations of copyright infringement. It can't be used to prevent a suit in the first place. The determination of Fair Use is fact-specific and is made in Court (assuming the plaintiff makes a prima facie case of infringement).
     
  8. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    The question you (or, more likely the lawyers and civil court system) will be asked is "how likely are people to assume the story was approved by Tom Clancy et al?"

    How possible is it that people will think something like "You know that new Tom Clancy spin off, isn't it great that he's letting other writers have a crack at his stories. Well, I read it and trust me - is rocks/sucks."

    Basically, you're looking at writing fac-fiction, at least from the description you gave. Nothing wrong with that, and sometimes the fan-fic actually rises above the quality and popularity of the original. It's a big legal hornet's nest though, and is best tackled by an attorney on a case by case basis.

    Even if there were IP lawyers lurking here, they wouldn't be able to give you a solid verdict without seeing the final product.

    My advice is, simply, to write it. If you become fortunate enough to finish it and attract a publishing house, they will advise you. They will say either:
    "No problem here." OR
    "Fortunately, it's good enough quality that I think we can make a deal with Tom Clancy." OR
    "It's solidly written and a fun read. If you and our editor get together and change things just a little so there's less confusion with Tom Clancy, we'll go ahead and publish it."

    -Frank
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it has nothing to do with 'fair use'!... read what i posted above about that... and i would strongly advise you to not do what you propose, since clancy can sue you till the cows come home and end up with all you'll ever own, if he wins, which he well could... if you want to go ahead anyway, at least consult a literary attorney and find out all the various versions of hot water you can find yourself in if you do it...

    if those books are still in copyright, or the author's surviving family members might sue for one reason or another, you may also wish you hadn't... again, this is an issue on which you should be consulting an attorney, not other writers...
     
  10. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    Companies, including authors, don't mind small "commericals" in work (like meeting at a Starbucks, ordering a Coke, listening to an iPod, or doing homework on a Dell). Don't worry about those; books, movies, and the like can be lumped in there as well.

    However, you'll want to have a strong grasp of fair use laws and copyright when an entire work is going to revolve around something, either creative or corporate, that you can't legally call yours. For the most part, it's alright, but again, you'll need to learn the laws before you go ahead and get it published (I don't know the laws well myself). Of course, most publishers and editors will know how to handle such situations, and would either advise you, or flat out reject the work.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    again, 'fair use' has NOTHING to do with FICTION...

    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html
     

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