1. Yandos
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    Yandos Member

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    Using someone elses story inside my story. Fraud?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Yandos, Feb 22, 2011.

    In my stroyline one of my characters tells a bedtime story to my main character. Can this story be one that is already well known (eg. Alice in wonderland) or will I have to make one up to represent the elements I need for my story?
     
  2. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is public domain so you could tell the entire story inside your story if you like.

    I'm not positive about works that are not public domain. However, from a completely non-professional perspective, I would assume that you could allude to a story in the same way that you can mention, for example, that a song is on the radio or characters went to see a movie.
     
  3. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You wouldn't tell the whole bedtime story anyway, I would think... so referring to it should be fine.
     
  4. Yandos
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    Yandos Member

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    The story that my character will tell will be boiled down to half a chapter and will be filled with dialog from my charaters. I'm trying to indicate where my MC get her ideas from. The story I was looking to use was about a recent well known pirate, C/O Disney. But I get the feeling that they would nail me to the wall for using anything to do with them.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    use something like Alice in Wonderland - make sure it is the original version though. Anything more recent can have copyright issues if it has been edited and changed.

    Anything written in the 1800s is likely to be safe. I am using images from Alice in Wonderland in my story (I am using my time travel for a new source of inspiration - my world has smiling cats, my MC carries a stopwatch and wears a white monks robe etc) Sir Walter Scott The Pirate might work ?
     
  6. Yandos
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    Yandos Member

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    I've looked up 'Sir Walter Scott's "The Pirate"' and I think it maybe a little too advanced to read to my MC. It looks like I'll have to try and make one up.

    At least I now have a name for the boat, how does the 'Little-Toot' sound?

    By the way, my MC at this point is a 5 years old little girl.
     
  7. FindJoyInLife
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    FindJoyInLife New Member

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    I think using the title of a well known book is actually a great idea. As long as you aren't blatantly ripping off the book I think it can be an asset to your story. I don't watch much TV but I loved the show Lost and they would use book titles as symbols for the story arc's of characters and plot lines. You shouldn't just pick a random book or make one up in my opinion. Pick one that will add an element of symbolism or even foreshadowing to your story.
     
  8. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    An idea is not copyrighted, only the actual wording.. Not sure about the time the (c) is valid - 50 years? (Maybe different in different countries). Maybe you can mention in your description that the story was told to you by someone else so you at least don't claim to be original.
     
  9. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about Treasure Island? Many kids love it. I know I did.
     
  10. ShortBus
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    just to be safe you should get in contact with whoever owns the rights to the story and ask them for permission. you should also try and get a hold of a legal document that has the terms of agreements.

    i think Leonardo Pisano is right as well. you can tell the story in a clever way that everyone would know what your talking about without actually saying what your talking about.

    i forget what movie this is but it was set in a post apocalyptic era and for the bedtime story for the children someone acted out the movie starwars. but i still dont know much about it. they might of paid for that scene.

    do your research.
     
  11. Melancholia
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    Melancholia New Member

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    Alice in Wonderland is a well known classical piece of writing. And Lewis Carroll is LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNGGG dead...more than a century now. So long as you give credit where it's due and make sure that your character clearly states the book title and the author, that would count as an allusion to another work, it's completely legal, and all great authors do this.
     
  12. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    I was going to suggest Treasure Island as well.

    It's the children's story that gave rise to our pop-cultural image of "Pirate" (in the form of the original Long John Silver) -- without Treasure Island, there would be no Pirates of the Carribian.

    If there are elements from the Disney movie that are important to what you're trying to do with the story but that don't appear in Treasure Island: you could figure out WHAT it is about those other elements that makes you want to include them, and then come up with something not-quite-the-same that still serves that purpose. You could then start from the safely-public-domain Treasure Island and weave those sufficiently-altered elements in.
     

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