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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3answers
219 views

Using real a car logo or gun in crime fiction - can I be sued for it?

If I use a real car company in telling a story about a bank heist, can I be sued for it? What could happen if I do use the company in that way? Say if I say the men drove to the bank in a Ford van, ...
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1answer
149 views

Accidentally sent a work-in-progress to a stranger

I was sending files between two email accounts and accidentally sent the first 8k words of a work-in-progress to a stranger. I'm not published, should I be worried or am I being arrogant? Is there ...
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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 ...
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1answer
4k views

Can I use a real college in my fiction book? [duplicate]

So for the novel I'm writing, the main character is a college student living in Michigan. Is it okay for me to have her go to a college that really is in Michigan? I wouldn't be displaying it in a ...
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1answer
216 views

permission from the building owners needed to depict a drawing of it on cover of novel?

Do I need permission from the owners of a building to depict a drawing of it on the cover of my novel?
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122 views

Using the name of fictional characters/series in a different context

I was wondering about if I could use the name of the fictional character Magneto in the scifi book I'm writing. There is no direct connection between the Marvel/DC universe and my book. Instead, I ...
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5answers
190 views

best licensing option for freest possible sharing of lyrics while retaining the right to get paid if someone else makes money from them

I would like to share many song/poetry/lyric works. I would like to share them as freely as possible, allowing modifications, use of small pieces or lines or concepts, etc.. I want to encourage ...
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2answers
338 views

Including a book extract in my blog

Can I include an extract of another persons book in my blog with references? If so, are there any restrictions that I must follow?
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3answers
10k 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, ...
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1answer
89 views

Do I need copyright, trademark or other registrations, to publish stories by Shakespeare?

I have written summary and storyline of Shakespeare's plays. I need to know the process of publication, and the legal notes, on publishing synopses, where the original author is someone else.
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15k views

Is translating into another language plagiarism?

I'm currently writing my Masters thesis in English. If I take some (small) German text snippets from some papers (I'm German-speaking) and just translate them into English, would this be plagiarism? ...
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4answers
371 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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
73 views

How to license my translation to be published under my copyright?

I am planning to translate a paper and distribute it with my name as translator with a license that permits free redistribution of the work with my copyright notice and welcomes donation support. What ...
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1answer
455 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. ...
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5answers
1k views

Can I use already used fictional language?

When creating a world where there are either aliens or fantasy races, you know that they should speak their own language. But the truth is, that for story purposes, such races will speak their ...
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1answer
115 views

Questions on a plausibility of a Naruto Homage

I've been itching to write a web fiction serial that's also a homage to Naruto since I found out the manga ended and went on a re-reading binge... Anyway it'll loosely have similar ideas i.e. clans. ...
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2answers
95 views

Can I write about an old and real person that is strongly related to a company?

I'm thinking about Henri Nestlé, born in 1814 and deceased in 1890. He was the founder of the company with the same name, located in Vevey (Switzerland). He is going to be a not-so-important ...
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2answers
373 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 ...
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3answers
76 views

Best practices for designating prose as intellectual property?

--Subtitle - What is the cheapest & most simplistic proof an idea belongs to me that will hold up in court. Is my (explained below) example still good? Is there a better way? When I come up with ...
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3answers
824 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 ...
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4answers
2k views

Is it legal to self-publish books independently (in any form) with no LTD, L.L.C., D.B.A., etc.?

I want to know if I'm safe publishing a book(s) with no copyright/trademarks/etc. and avoiding any kind of business moniker (like a D.B.A. or registration) in order to just get right to the publishing ...
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1answer
186 views

Are “print world rights in English” the same as “First World Print Rights”?

I am considering selling work to "Shoreline of Infinity" however they say We buy first digital and print world rights in English, but your rights are returned to you after 6 months of original ...
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4answers
428 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 ...
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3answers
823 views

Copyright of a TV series when used as reference?

Is it considered fair use to have screenshots, or character likenesses, in a book as a descriptor or reference? For example, when describing time-travelers, can I use a few screenshots from Doctor ...
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1answer
92 views

Copywriting question, error by publisher

I had a friend "publisher" help with organizing and publishing my children's book through a self publishing company. We have no written contract. He was to help me for gratis as he learned the process ...
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1answer
132 views

Renting my book?

I recently discovered that a bookstore is offering my book for rental. Is it legal for the store to rent out my book? Is the store infringing on my copyright? What the store is charging people who ...
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3answers
4k views

Novel set in Forgotten Realms universe

My question regards using the forgotten realms setting for writing a novel. I'll explain. My original intention was to request permission to write a novel using WotC's Forgotten Realms setting, but ...
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1answer
21k 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 ...
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3answers
71 views

Ethics of incorporating a supplier's technical documentation into one's own documentation?

A company, M, buys components from company, S, to build into their product. Company S has technical documentation regarding safety and maintenance available in many languages and publicly available in ...
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4answers
174 views

Can I legally use experimental items in my book? [closed]

I am looking to write a book and include real experimental weapons and aircrafts. Is this possible or could I be sued. Say for example if the american government had a prototype aircraft that was ...
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3answers
199 views

What exactly is “fair comment?”

From what I understand, truth is a defense against a charge of libel. More to the point, I've been told that a statement need not be true if it represents a "fair comment" based on the underlying ...
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4answers
161 views

Use of old ads in a book

There will be approximately one dozen images scheduled to appear in my upcoming book. These are, in the majority, old ads from various clients, industries and campaigns I have worked on. I make no ...
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5answers
2k views

Attributing a real quote to a fictional character

I've looked at a few fictional character quote questions on here but none seem to hit onto my question: Can I attribute a real quote to a fictional character? That is, can I take a quote that was ...
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3answers
168 views

How does one determine how much of a song you can use without paying?

In the movie, "The Perez Family," there was a scene that featured the band playing something like two lines of the song "I Will Survive" before there was a voice-over. In my screenplay, I have the ...
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2answers
347 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 ...
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2answers
2k views

What are the copyright limitations for adopting a fictional character's name as your Pen Name?

I wanted to use 'Dumbledore' as a part of my pen name. But I was told that by doing so I might, I just might subject myself to suing by J.K. Rowling (if she intends to). Is that true? Can't I use ...
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2answers
1k views

Note taking from a textbook and publishing the notes online

I'm reading a physics textbook now and taking personal notes as I read. I'd like to put my own personal notes online for free so that other members of my lab group can refer to them easily. How can ...
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4answers
708 views

Can a Town/City Sue an Author for a Bad Portrayal in Fiction?

Lets say we choose a random town off of google maps on which to base a story where the local authorities (we won't say police, or whatnot, but local authorities) perform an investigation that is ...
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3answers
469 views

Is sending your characters back to a different century a good way to disguise them?

In one of my novels, I took two "contemporary" real life people, and sent them back to the 18th century to fight the American Revolution. (Yours truly is one of them.) My current understanding of the ...
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1answer
105 views

What was the legal doctrine or standard that made the following acceptable?

In writing a review about the movie "Moneyball" some years ago, I noted that the name of Billy Beane's assistant had been changed to "Peter Brand." The issue was that the movie was "based on a true ...
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3answers
686 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 ...
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2answers
213 views

Poor man's copyright techniques

I'm about to get an editor and submit my full book to a publisher. I had my book notarized. Then I put it in a large orange envelope and mailed it to myself so the UPS could put a date stamp on it. ...
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3answers
18k 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, ...
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2answers
278 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 ...
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2answers
218 views

What kinds of legal clearances do you need to produce “fiction” that's “based on a true story?”

The "Sound of Music" comes to mind. The Captain and Maria von Trapp were real people, although names and ages of the seven children were fictionalized in the movie. One factor is that the von Trapps ...
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1answer
714 views

Using dictionary examples in the book - is it fair use?

I am writing a book on English language. Which is bilingual book. So I would need some examples from dictionary. So can I use these examples in my book. I don't mind mentioning which dictionary ...
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0answers
40 views

Use of Building names in Fiction [duplicate]

I know that using branded companies names is a no no if shown in a negative light, but what is the "legal" Stance on Buildings that get damaged/blown up/fist fight etc..? as they are owned by a ...
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1answer
127 views

Does Japan have a Press Code?

Many countries have a press code (examples: Germany, South Africa) It is a kind of ethics guide for journalists. While usually not a law, it is often taken quite seriously by the whole profession. ...
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3answers
429 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 ...