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My main characters are famous. Can I use the actual name of entertainment TV shows, such as 'Entertainment Tonight' in my fictional novel?

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I wondered about this one myself a while ago and I found this article written by a lawyer who is familiar with books, media, publishing, etc. to be be illuminating.

The short answer to your question, paraphrasing from this article, is that you can use names of brands in works of fiction without a problem as long as you're not writing disparagingly about those brands. This would include names of shows and the like.

Be careful though because the use of a brand or tv show or the like in your work of fiction could end up dating that work as well. It's up to oyu whether that's an issue or not.

Keep in mind, I am not a lawyer myself, so I can't speak with any authority, which is why I referenced the article which was written by a lawyer.

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The short answer is 'yes'. However, the question indicates a core misunderstanding of the basics of fiction writing.

You are not your characters.

"Bob was watching a crappy TV show - The Kardashians." - This could get you in trouble. Ultimately you have expressed an opinion through narartive.

Sally sat glued to TV 'The Kardashians.'

"Really?" said Bob, turning off the TV. "Our marriage is in tatters and rather than try to fix it you want to watch the worst show in the history of television?"

  • The author has not expressed an opinion - you're safe.

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