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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34
votes
9answers
13k views

How to prevent ebook piracy from stealing your livelihood?

I'm a part-time writer, still working on my novel (with a long term goal to make a living as a writer). My partner is also a writer, full time, with a couple dozen novels in ebook format, who makes a ...
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 ...
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, ...
23
votes
9answers
651 views

Do I need to register my work to retain copyright?

What are the legal issues when submitting work to publishers? is there a risk of having my work stolen? How can you protect yourself from this? Is there an international "law" for this or is it ...
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 ...
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 ...
18
votes
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 ...
17
votes
8answers
2k views

What's a good way to backup your writing?

One of the most important things for writers to do is to back up their work so that in the event of a computer failure, their work isn't lost. But where's a good place to do that? A lot of storage ...
16
votes
14answers
8k views

Are wands in any sort of book going to be too much like Harry Potter?

I am trying to write a magical system, and I love the way that wands are like gunfire and how you flick and attack and it's instant. No weird hand movements or long unwieldy staffs or canes to use. ...
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 ...
13
votes
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
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 ...
12
votes
5answers
3k views

My autobiography is exciting, but I'm an unknown. Should I make it a novel instead?

I've kept diaries all my life and now have over 100...which I've recently started turning into an autobiography - where some of the original diary quotes are included along with the new text. I ...
12
votes
1answer
19k 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
votes
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
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
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 ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I safely use “Thalidomide” in my novel while respecting the trademark?

Thalidomide is a tricky one, as I am referring to its disastrous past regarding birth defects; however, Thalidomide is still used as a immunomodulatory drug today - and even though its used under ...
10
votes
6answers
27k 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
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 ...
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? ...
10
votes
2answers
822 views

Do I really need disclaimers?

I write non fiction books about computer science and security (Zzz) but with the security bits in particular, do I really need to put a disclaimer saying "hey don't go hack the government" on my ...
10
votes
3answers
8k views

How can one write about illegal deeds without getting into trouble?

What is some good advice for writing about things done, in an autobiographical sense, that may have been or still are illegal? For example, smoking or buying marijuana is illegal in many countries, ...
10
votes
2answers
169 views

What is the proper way to add Creative Commons licensing information to a book?

I have prepared a book which utilizes some information which was licensed under a Creative Commons license of which a large number of people contributed. I believe that the use of this material ...
9
votes
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
votes
4answers
873 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
votes
3answers
294 views

Is it legal to name a character in a story after a disguised trademark?

I'm writing a sci-fi book series. As a true nerd, I want to use some characters to "do homage" to famous scientists, acronyms for experimental methods, and (here's the question) trademarked ...
9
votes
1answer
4k views

Is it plausible to get a contract with an US/UK publisher as a foreigner?

Looking for some insight in the publishing industry. Is it even remotely plausible to get published in with an English-language publishing house (UK/US), when you're not a national nor a resident of ...
9
votes
1answer
142 views

Where can I find information about a contract that allows two authors to use a “shared world”?

A friend of mine was gracious enough to let me write a story using a setting he has been using for his own novel. I finished my novella while he is still working. I am looking at indie publishing the ...
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?
8
votes
3answers
378 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
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
1answer
450 views

Illustrations for a children's book to be republished

I illustrated a book 20 years ago. No royalties: one-time use. Did not sign a contract for copyright. It is considered an orphan. Now the author wants a new publisher to print the same illustrations. ...
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
votes
1answer
104 views

Repository of My Academic Writing - Which License to Use?

I'm adding a repository containing selected academic papers I wrote. I'd like to add a license to this repository that works similarly to the MIT license (but for writing and not code), where others ...
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 (...
8
votes
2answers
155 views

Journal subscription secrecy

Robert Darnton, an accomplished scholar and important name in the open access movement, has a piece in the current New York Review of Books, The Library: Three Jeremiads, where he mentions that ...
8
votes
2answers
162 views

How does collaboration affect a publishing contract?

A publishing contract is generally a contract between a publisher and an author; a collaboration seems to add an additional party to the agreement. I would like to know what kind of complications this ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Accusing private figures of crime in print

I am the editor of a small college magazine. In an article that was recently submitted to me, as part of the story, the author named two people who ragged him (harassed him). I have sufficient proof ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Outsourcing people to make a cover [closed]

I need some very specific art for my book cover and will probably not be able to find a generic one on a website, so do I hire someone for it and what's the average hourly wage for hiring one? How do ...
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) ...
7
votes
3answers
274 views

Can I ePublish my out-of-print history book?

Can I assume that the rights to my history book Frontier Theatre (Sono Nis 1983) reverted wholly back to me when the book went out of print around 1992? The contract was a standard pre-digital ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

My ex-husband's wife self-published a nonfiction book naming my kids in the story

My ex-husband's wife self-published a non fiction book and put my kids in the story as well. She did not change their names. Neither she nor my ex-husband told me about this or asked me (or the ...
7
votes
1answer
551 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
145 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
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
554 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Is mild sexualization of minors allowed in writing?

Her clothes screamed bohemia, with a prominent cleavage, leather bands running up her arms and nails painted black. In my book there is a romance between two 15-year-olds, and the book is from one of ...

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