Questions tagged [legal]

General legal questions. There are also separate tags for "copyright" and "creative commons". Make sure to specify the relevant jurisdiction.

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27
votes
6answers
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 ...
18
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3answers
624 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 ...
21
votes
2answers
16k 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
4k views

Is fan fiction publishable?

This is a question that has been touched on here and there, and yet I can't find a good answer. Suppose I am writing a story set in the Star Wars universe. I don't want to dodge copyrights and ...
15
votes
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 ...
12
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4answers
4k views

Using a pen-name: possible legal issues

My question is about publishing under a pen-name. Does it have to be registered as a trademark? If it's not registered as a trademark, can someone sue a writer for using it? Because every name you ...
6
votes
3answers
11k views

Do I need permission from people I am writing about if I am writing about a true story that was reported in the media?

I am writing a factual book, that will [hopefully] primarily detail real events that have happened in the past, that are related to the subject of the book. The real events have all been reported in ...
13
votes
3answers
573 views

Is it legal to write about trademarked material and use the terms?

I am contemplating writing a technical book (and probably self-publishing it) on a proprietary programming interface for a well-known software package produced by a very large company. The company ...
5
votes
3answers
646 views

Is it safe to write about a fictional murder in a real-life location?

I am writing a novel, and part of the plot has one character killing another in a specific real-life location. I mean the setting is extremely specific - for example, a particular hotel, or one ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

How can I get a copyright for my e-book?

As I'm a new writer, I don't know how to get copyright for my first book. Could anyone help me please? My book is an e-book in E-Pub format.
5
votes
5answers
449 views

Legal ramifications for writing about fictional relationships with celebs

I’m thinking about developing a blog where the main character is fictional and has fictional relationships with well known celebrities and sports figures. Are there any legal ramifications for ...
3
votes
3answers
353 views

How far does libel extend in writing?

Suppose I wrote a book. Suppose it had a normal modern fictional story about it. Suppose that the characters aren't based on real people and have no relation to anyone. Suppose in the background of ...
22
votes
7answers
4k views

How to tell readers your story is a re-imagination of a popular story?

If for example, I were to rewrite a story heavily inspired by Romeo and Juliet, but placed it in a complete different setting. Do you have to say it? Also, do you mention it in the title that's it's a ...
11
votes
6answers
3k views

How do I avoid legal repercussions for writing a story based on events in my life?

How do I avoid legal repercussions for writing a story based on events in my life? Mainly, I have experienced events that I would like to share with the world. These events are somewhat disturbing ...
8
votes
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
votes
3answers
353 views

Legalities about fictionalizing current events?

What are the legalities of taking something currently in the news and writing a story/novel/movie (but not a documentary/biography) about it? Take Snowden, for example. Someone went and made a movie (...
7
votes
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 ...
4
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5answers
3k views

Is it illegal to imagine a real person for a fictional character?

There are times I meet someone for a brief time, maybe a couple hours, and their personality impresses me enough to create a fictional character about them. Obviously I am adding my own attributes to ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How do co-authors' rights to a manuscript work?

When an individual writes a novel, he owns all rights over the manuscript until he starts selling those rights to others. What is the situation when the novel is a collaborative work? How are such ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

I'm scared that my story is plagiarizing another story

I am working on my debut story. In my freetime, I write another story that will be the start of a series. The series consists of Steampunk fairytale retellings. Lately, I have been worrying that it ...
4
votes
4answers
293 views

Disclaimer when writing about governmental entities

I've read many novels involving characters working at the NASA, Vatican, Secret Police, high government officers (Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson for example) and doing stuff that I wouldn't like being made ...
3
votes
4answers
347 views

Can I use an old painting of Lilith as my book cover?

I'm working on a book of poetry, and I want to use John Collier's (1892) painting of Lilith as the cover. I won't be selling the book though; giving it away for free. Can I legally use the painting as ...
2
votes
3answers
427 views

Copyright of examples used in books?

I'm getting into non-fiction technical writing (a blog, but potentially ebook or otherwise). Often the best technical advice come from dissecting and synthesising good and bad examples from the ...
2
votes
2answers
537 views

Is it considered trademark infringement to use the name of a real business in a novel?

I am writing a pivotal scene for my novel that is set in Red Square of Moscow. A very wealthy bureaucrat is leaving a famous, high end store that exists in real life. Is it considered trademark ...
1
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2answers
337 views

Does “reversing” characters provide enough of a “disconnect ”to defend against a libel suit?

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were fictional, of course, but Lauren Ipsum has convinced me that if they were real people, a story about a "drug-using detective and his MD sidekick" might expose a ...
1
vote
1answer
183 views

Is it legal to write a novel about people playing “League of Legends”?

I was wondering if using trademarked items such as a bottle of "Pepsi", or a video game like "League of Legends" can make you vulnerable to lawsuits. I think so, but I am not sure, because I see a lot ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Legality over using a REAL museum and REAL artifacts in a fictional - HEIST novel

I have a question regarding the legality of using a real museum and real artifacts in my Heist book which is almost ready for publication. Initially, it will be self-published via the amazon kindle ...
10
votes
5answers
24k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
960 views

Legal effect of standard fiction disclaimer

Does the standard fiction disclaimer (... any resemblance to persons living or dead...) have any legal effect? I am most interested in citations of reasonably authoritative legal opinions. Especially ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the advantages of incorporation for a writer?

I have heard of some (rather successful) writers incorporating - that is, creating a corporation of which they are the sole member. What are the potential advantages (or disadvantages) of doing this? ...
9
votes
3answers
382 views

What to include in agreement with a Ghost Writer. .

I am exploring engaging a Ghost writer to partner with me on the development of a non-fiction (well, mostly) business book. What are the critical elements of the agreement that need to be included?
6
votes
2answers
601 views

Dealing with potential copyright issues: manga

I have been spinning yarn around Kuchiyose Edo Tensei, a reincarnation technique I came across in the popular anime/manga series Naruto. Further developing on that, the concept of bloodlines (or ...
3
votes
3answers
813 views

Write a book with “protected” characters/ideas without copyright?

I want to write a book about an idea/story I've had for many years that I find many will truly enjoy when furnished out; however, I don't want this to be "open-source"; I don't want anyone to be able ...
23
votes
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, ...
12
votes
1answer
359 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
7k views

Referencing real and fictional people/characters in novels - legal implications

I've been going out of my way to avoid referencing famous people in my novel as well as fictional characters, but I keep seeing pop culture references in other books I read as well as in TV shows, ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

How do disclaimers work for fictional books that are loosely modeled on real events?

First: I did look for similar questions and this is the closest one I could find, and it's not quite answering the question I'm asking: Legalities about fictionalizing current events Here's the ...
3
votes
2answers
324 views

Can you make (Negative) references to real people and places in a novel?

I was wondering about how much freedom a writer has to refer to real people and places in a fictional work and in what situations it's best to get permission or avoid it altogether. I do know that ...
3
votes
1answer
255 views

Legal and Social effect of story involving real life people

I have written a novel based on my past life experiences, however the story involves a few people who might not like the idea of getting their stories published. What is the legal and social effects ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

How do we draw the line between plagiarism and allusion?

It’s no secret that in literature we see characters that remind us of other characters. Furthermore, it’s no secret we see plots that remind us of other plots. For example, an author reads Book A and ...
1
vote
3answers
230 views

copy right issue with using exact Text from a text book

Here is a question related to a website providing mathematics solutions for students. Here are details: Students will enter the page number and problem number on the website, and the site will show ...
7
votes
2answers
485 views

Can I say this about real countries in my fiction?

I am writing a visual novel and use a fictional country in "real-world" setting. Some cases have been bothering me and I'm not sure if it's legal to write this because it might be insulting(?): To ...
7
votes
3answers
574 views

Published on blog but taken down: Still remains previously-published?

A whole lot of publishing houses look at works posted on blogs as "previously published". Now, let us say I put something on my blog and it is around for some months (or an year or two). One (not-so) ...
6
votes
3answers
14k views

What are my legal rights if somebody writes a book about me without my consent?

So, I just discovered a person I knew in college has written a book. This book is titled as fiction. But after buying and reading this book, I am in this book. No name change. The place where I work, ...
6
votes
1answer
337 views

Can I self-publish a book on the Kindle store when I'm under 18?

I'm wondering if I can publish a comic on the Kindle store! It's because me and my friends made a comic and I've now re-drawn everything on my computer and I've looked into this and it says I need to ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What permissions do I need to write a non-fiction book based on personal interviews?

I am writing a non-fiction book based on recorded interviews with several people. I have recorded verbal consent to be interviewed for the book from each person. One of the interviewees has since ...
5
votes
4answers
5k views

Should I copyright my material before sending to my publisher?

Should I copyright my material before sending to my publisher? Can they steal my content?
4
votes
1answer
186 views

permission to use emails from famous deceased person

I finished a creative non-fiction memoir about my secret life as a miracle worker. I am using three emails to me from a now deceased wildly popular tech icon. Our phone conversation as well as the ...
3
votes
4answers
397 views

Can I change my work and seel it if I am published with no contract?

I have had a falling out with my publisher. She has published many of my works and is telling me I am not legally able to resell my work anywhere. I have no contract to refer to. There is no verbal ...
3
votes
2answers
260 views

Where's the line between coincidental similarity between a character and a person, vs. being uniquely identifiable?

I'm trying to understand the verdict in Red Hat Club case. Vicki Stewart sued author Haywood Smith, claiming that a character in Smith's books was defamatory - that the character was clearly based on ...