Questions tagged [copyright]

Questions involving matters of copyright, encapsulating parody and level of similarity questions, reprinting and publishing of copyrighted works, public domain, attribution, fanfiction, legality, and fair use questions. Any question involving copyright law in the U.S. or abroad should be given this tag.

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37
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9answers
14k views

Can I write a book of my D&D game?

I am a long time Dungeon Master of Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder. My games run in a custom world of my own making. However, I utilise a lot of the traditional lore and races of D&D. I'm ...
29
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7answers
15k views

Using the real world in writing

To what extent can you use locations, businesses, etc. from the real world in fiction? I know someone cannot copyright a city, but what about a particular location in the city that's private. Can I ...
24
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3answers
4k views

Want to publish unpublished work found in an auction storage unit

I started buying storage auctions in the middle of this year. In the third one I bought I ran across an unpublished manuscript for a fiction book U Boat treasure by Charles Hand. He has no published ...
23
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6answers
6k views

Can someone publish a story that happened to you?

Can someone take a story that happened to you, without your knowledge, and publish it? Using your name and specifics, and take the copyright for it? A person, whose mother lived in our small town, ...
21
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2answers
18k views

Are Names of Characters Copyrighted by Authors?

Are names of characters copyrighted by authors? For example, the character "Eragon" from the Inheritance Cycle series, or a name that you've generated using an online name generator that you'd like to ...
19
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1answer
4k views

What are those “countdown” numbers on the copyright page?

On the copyright pages in many books I find the following "countdown" numbers and I am wondering what the significance of this is? In a non-fiction book I have, "The Call of the Mild" it looks like: ...
18
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4answers
4k views

Would it be a copyright violation if I made a character’s full name refer to a song?

I want to write a realistic fiction book similar to Thomas Hardy’s works, where he used techniques and Biblical references (they were also called allusions) to make his writing more meaningful, and to ...
18
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3answers
672 views

Getting My Rights Back

Back in the late 90's I wrote a picture book which eventually was published in 2002 by a big name publishing house. The book was critically acclaimed, won an award, and went through a couple of ...
17
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4answers
4k views

Can we “borrow” our answers to populate our own websites?

Second Edit -- to try to expand the scope BEYOND W.SE and to cover any CreativeCommons work, not just here. Deleted part about the badges. -- Edit -- to clarify it's not quite a BLOG, more a portfolio ...
17
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6answers
4k views

Title already taken

I'm writing a novel, and I think I've come up with a very good title (The Power of the Powerless). It convey's the moral question of the story well, and gives a good sense of the style of the story. ...
15
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3answers
7k views

Do living authors still get paid royalties for their old work?

Do authors still get paid royalties for their old works? For example, If I decided to buy a copy of the "Odessa File" by Frederick Forsyth or "Kane and Abel" by Jeffery Archer, do the authors get paid ...
15
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6answers
2k views

Borrowing Characters

Would it be a violation of copyright and/or plagiarism to “borrow” a character from another novel? For example, I have a short story and want to include as a side character Ender (of Ender’s Game). I ...
15
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3answers
451 views

Can a copyright be made in the name of a fictional writer?

Is it possible to copyright a work in the name of a fictional writer? For example, like Nicolas Bourbaki or some pen name of some author? Can I use my own fictional name to copyright the work?
13
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3answers
5k views

I gave my characters names that are exactly like another book. Is it a problem?

Ok, so, I am currently writing a book and 3 of my characters have the same name as in another novel. I didn't realize it until someone pointed it out to me. The names I picked are fairly common and ...
13
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2answers
3k views

How can I know that I'm not plagiarizing?

New to the web. I just recently started to write again. I won a few highschool prizes writing short stories. Around the same time, I began to play Roleplaying games and to write different stories for ...
13
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2answers
2k views

Do publishers care if submitted work has already been copyrighted?

I'm getting ready to start submitting a book I've written. I copyrighted an earlier draft of it a few years ago (as in submitted it for official registered copyright). The final draft has not ...
12
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1answer
20k views

Can I Copyright My FaceBook Status Post?

Can I copyright my Facebook status updates? In the terms and agreements I didn't see a clear statement stating that Facebook owns my material. Secondly, if I can't copyright the material I post on ...
12
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1answer
496 views

How to express copyright when you use a pen name

I am about to self-publish my first novel using a pen name. I will be registering the copyright this week. My question is, on the first page of the novel where you put all the publishing/copyright ...
12
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1answer
364 views

Does the Creative Commons license protect my writing on the web?

I usually write on the web and I would like to license my writings using one of the Creative Commons licenses, but I can't understand how that license can protect our works. We really like to share ...
11
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5answers
2k views

What's “fair use” for borrowing someone else's invented term?

Let's say I'm writing a sci-fi novel. I want to use a word which another writer has coined, which has become well-recognized outside the original book, for the name of an alien species in my story. I ...
11
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4answers
5k views

On copyright laws and plots

I was pondering a lot on the issue with copyrights on plots. Is having an identical plot infringing someone else's copyrighted work? I am fully aware that the character names are copyrighted and ...
11
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4answers
376 views

Can I keep my characters in my book or should I just give up with them?

My OCs (Original Characters) were stolen by an older person. She may or may not have copyrighted them. A few years ago I was like 13 and I posted some characters I made up and I really love them. One ...
11
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4answers
32k views

Can a book be published by more than one publisher?

1) Some books are published by more than one publisher. For example, if you go to Amazon or Flipkart and search for 'The Interpretation of Dreams' by Sigmund Freud, you will see many of them from ...
11
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4answers
2k views

Who is responsible for copyrighted materials (publisher or writer)?

Imagine that Writer A's book includes copyrighted material created by Creator B, and Creator B sues for copyright infringement. Will Writer A be held liable, or will the book publisher? I think the ...
11
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2answers
430 views

Can my work be stolen if I post excerpts and ideas on critique sites?

Participating in writing-related sites (for example on critique sites) sometimes involves describing a plot problem or sharing an excerpt from my work. I'm usually vague because of the fear that ...
10
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6answers
28k views

Are music lyrics copyrighted?

I tried to find copyright information about music lyrics, but it is too confusing, because it is related to the usage. There are lots of websites providing lyrics, but it seems they are somehow ...
10
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5answers
27k views

Is Academic Ghostwriting legal?

I recently learned of the concept of academic ghostwriting (see, e.g. this article) - by which I mean the situation where a student goes to another person, or perhaps a service, and pays them to ...
9
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5answers
1k views

When does inspiration across artforms become plagiarism

eSpoilers for Green Book in the E.g. section I listen to a lot of music, and when I come up with stories, I often use songs as a source of inspiration. However, what I was wondering is are songs ...
9
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4answers
944 views

Is it legal to share an index you made from someone else's book?

There are some books published without a back-of-book index, which I feel is a dreadful shame. As part of my research I decided to create an index of one such book. Doing so is legal for my own use, ...
9
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2answers
21k views

How does copyright apply to illustrations and cover art?

Is a paid-up-front illustrator entitled to royalties? If I hire an illustrator for artwork, and I pay up front on a per-illustration basis, what copyright gotchas should I be aware of? Does the ...
9
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3answers
3k views

May I use real weapon names in my book without copyright problems?

I would like to use some weapon names to sound familiar to readers, (AK47, M16, C4, Colt...), but as far as I have heard, using real names from weapons one must have the permission of the companies (...
9
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1answer
75 views

With an introduction by

This was originally a part of my question about partnering with a website, but I think it's separate enough to deserve its own post: Many books are published with an introduction by a better-known ...
9
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1answer
87 views

Authorship when author leaves the organization that published the article?

A friend wrote an article. She was an employee of a medium-sized national non-profit organization (in the US). The article was published and was sold at a very affordable cost by the organization. ...
8
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5answers
1k views

Can I copy an existing magic system?

Is it fine for me to copy the magic system of another author if every other aspect (story,plot,etc.) of my fantasy story is my own design? For instance, can I use bending from Avatar: The Last ...
8
votes
6answers
878 views

Is it safe to create a wiki for a book (or something featured in it) before the book is published?

I'm working on a sci-fi novel, and it contains a lot of fictional creatures, which are in some ways separate from the novel because I came up with them a while before I actually got the idea to write ...
8
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3answers
381 views

Copyright - Can I go to any other publisher?

I have a question. I have self-published a book through Partridge publishing. This is what my contract says - "1.4. You will retain all rights to the content of the Work. We do not own rights to your ...
8
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2answers
332 views

Which free licence to choose for my book (manual)?

I wrote a 50 page manual that I plan to release for free. I do not mind if the book is copied, translated, printed, shared, ... I just want two things: I am the only person who can sell a copy of ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Is Sherlock Holmes public domain for use in a story?

I am writing a short story and would like to name check Sherlock Holmes as a character; according to the ever reliable (?) Wikipedia the stories of Holmes are UK Public Domain. Does this mean I can ...
8
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3answers
606 views

Approach to pop culture quotes in fiction writing

I am contemplating writing a fictional character [nerd] who speaks in a pop culture references. I appreciate this question somewhat overlaps Referencing modern pop culture in science fiction The ...
8
votes
3answers
526 views

Can I modify and turn my published short stories into a novel?

I'm writing some short stories that are all connected and are set in the same universe, because I planned to put them together into a novel later. My question is: If I publish those short stories, can ...
8
votes
1answer
7k views

How can I get permission to translate and republish a book?

I am interested in translating an English book into my native language. How can I get permission to translate the book? Would that also include permission to republish the book in the native ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Referencing, but not using, trademarked characters

Obviously, you're not allowed to use trademarked characters like Superman or Batman in your published works. If I wrote a novel about Superman fighting Lex Luthor, I could get sued. But what about ...
8
votes
2answers
166 views

Do I need permission to name organizations in a non-fiction book?

I am self-publishing a dog photography book. I have obtained permissions for all subjects in the book. One of the pictures I am using has the American Kennel Club (AKC) logo in it. I'm assuming I need ...
8
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1answer
526 views

Who has copyright of Amazon reviews?

If a user posts a review on Amazon, does (s)he have copyright on that review? Is there anything in the terms and conditions where (s)he transfers his/her ownership of the IP to Amazon? If not, how ...
8
votes
1answer
173 views

What can we do to make sure that our novels are in the public domain as soon as we die?

I heard that the amount of time required for a work to be in the public domain has been extended. If you want your novels to be in the public domain as soon as you die, how do you do that? And can the ...
7
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5answers
55k views

Is it legal to use an old painting on the cover of a book?

Can I put an old painting on the cover of my book without violating the law? AFAIK the copyright for a painting expires after 70 years. Hence, if a painting was created in 1874 and 70 years expired ...
7
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2answers
1k views

How can I publish a translation of a book?

I'm in the process of translating a book (scientific publication) for private use. If I ever decide to publish it: what is the procedure? Who is the right person to ask for publishing rights and ...
7
votes
1answer
676 views

What is “Buying Back My Book”?

I have read on a few different author blogs, as well as some answers here I think, references to the author needing to "buy back" rights to their books. Having not yet explored all these options, ...
7
votes
2answers
149 views

When a publisher buys the copyright for my books, does that include the pen name I used?

Years ago, I wrote many westerns under half a dozen names for a publisher. They bought the copyright and published them. Now I'm hoping to write for a different publisher. Can I still use one of the ...
7
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2answers
11k views

How to publish public domain books?

It is known that the copyright permission is not needed for old books (usually 70 years after the author's death), because the copyright has been expired. However, I am not sure how easy a public ...

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