1. MScott
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    MScott New Member

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    Using public figures' names and musicians' names in a work of fiction

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MScott, May 20, 2013.

    I'm writing a story about a musician. The plot can become messy and confusing if I have to make up too many fictitious band names. I'm trying to only mention two fictitious bands in the entire story. Say I want to use a musician's name (i.e. Sting) or a band's name, referring to a group of multiple people (i.e. Led Zeppelin). Would I need to obtain their permission to use their names in a work of fiction? They are not characters, but merely referred to as inspirations for the main character's own music. If someone can help me out with an answer as to if using names such as those would be legal or not, it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    -M. Scott
     
  2. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Hmm I would like to know that as well since my main character is a musician as well.
     
  3. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Generally it's safe to refer to them provided you don't say anything that could in any way be construed as derogatory or negative. It's always wise to consult a literary attorney, though, rather than people on a writing site who in all honesty haven't got the first clue about the ins-and-outs of legal proceedings.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Gallowglass is correct. There is no prohibition against using names, but anything negative could be a problem. My advice is go ahead and write your piece. If you get to the point of publishing it, then you can worry about consulting a literary attorney if need be. On the other hand, you cannot quote lyrics without permission, as those are covered by copyright.

    Using them as inspirations for your characters should not be a problem (assuming we are talking about musical inspiration and not inspiration to commit mayhem).
     
  5. MScott
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    MScott New Member

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    Thanks everyone for the help. The only reason was because I was only going to mention them passively. This isn't an excerpt from my story, but it serves as an example: "He looked up at the post of Mick Jagger, the man who inspired him to even play music in the first place." Or: "The sound of Led Zeppelin filled all gaps between words that night during the party at Kyle's house."
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's done all the time... e. l. doctorow and caleb carr are famous for building their historical tales around actual famous folks and some authors of fiction set in current times mention living public figures... but, as noted above, you need to be sure you don't show them in a bad light or have them doing things they'd never do in real life..
     

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