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  1. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    Using Phrases from Other Books/Movies. Plagerism?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by tonten, Oct 14, 2009.

    When I say phrases, I mean popular cliches or famous lines like (or not even so very famous lines)

    Examples:

    "There is no Spoon" - the matrix.
    "Get thee to a nunnery!" - shakespeare
    "Hastalavista, Baby!" - Arnold Schwarzenegger

    What if you use it, but change it around?

    Trick'O'Treating is like that present from Aunt Fey. You'll always know what you'll get.
    (I know, sounds lame but only thing I could think of right now)

    Or what if you use it as paraody?

    Is this consider plagerism? Or is it something like lyrics where you would have to ask permission from the artist first before you can use it?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    You can quote Shakespeare all you like, its in the public domain. The other two I'm pretty sure can be considered to have entered popular culture in away that means you can use them, but people will always read them in their original contexts so you need to be aware of that.
     
  3. SayWhatNow?
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    SayWhatNow? Senior Member

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    That is fair reference. To make a weak example:

    John told Sue to get a Coca-Cola.

    Unless you go into great detail about the inner workings and production of Coca-Cola and claim it's yours, you are safe as far as plagerism goes.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Coca-Cola is a trademark. Plagiarism doesn't apply. Trademark infringement can take place a number of ways, but that isn't really relevant to this discussion.

    Some short phrases from copyrighted works are so frequently repeated that they have become part of common speech, so copyright on those phrases is essentially unenforceable. Whether the unattributed use of those phrases is technically plagiarism is debatable, but it's a moot point.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as usual, cog got here while i was still sound asleep on the other side of the planet and said pretty much what i would, had i beaten him to the punch, instead of v/v...
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Then there are cases like "Who ya gonna call?" Everyone knows where that is from, but sometimes that is EXACTLY what the character would say, and there are only so many ways to ask that question.
     
  7. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would avoid that line in a serious moment of a story because people will feel a giggle brewing when they read it. Association is a really powerful tool in storytelling and misplaced associations will undermine it with equal force. I'd work around it...make the character say it some other way. "Who ya calling?" "Who will you call?" something... anything but the exact quote.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's really off topic, though. The issue is whether you can include such a line without fear of legal complications, not whether it's a good choice in context.
     
  9. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    That's why I mentioned, "What if you use it, but change it around?"

    The way I use it is usually for paraody.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've seen people make references like that on TV. In one show, a character said, during a very serious seen, "who ya gonna call?" then rolled his eyes and said, "No one's ever gonna be able to say that again, are they?"
     
  11. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    A lot of these phrases are actually pop culture references and i don't think anyone will seriously consider legal action, after all its not plagarism as such as you are using it out of contxt and simply making reference to a popular saying/catchphrase, which is something that happens in everyday life, (i qoute shakespeare and alic in wonderland all the time) it would be plagarism however if your story happened to feature within a computer generated world in which your mc is some kind of messiah who then utters "there is no spoon,"
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the works of both of those writers have been in the public domain for quite a while, so they're not relevant to this discussion... nor would it be 'plagiarism' to use a line from carroll's work...
     

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