89 votes

How can I contact JK Rowling for permission to publish my sequel for the Harry Potter series?

I'm sorry, but the chances of JK Rowling letting an amateur, unpublished writer use her ideas is zero. She and her partners have billions of dollars riding on the HP franchise. If she is tired of ...
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  • 92k
48 votes

How can I contact JK Rowling for permission to publish my sequel for the Harry Potter series?

In an interview, Stephen Fry (who has recorded the audio-book versions of the Harry Potter series from the start) recalled how, at a book-signing that J.K. Rowling was doing, there were ...
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47 votes

Can someone publish a story that happened to you?

No one can copyright an event The events that happened to your father don't belong to anyone. They just are. Different people will have different knowledge (or beliefs) about various portions of ...
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41 votes
Accepted

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

Plagiarism would be taking exact text from the various game manuals and representing it as your own. So don't do that. But you probably weren't going to anyway, because you want to tell a story, ...
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35 votes
Accepted

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

In the US, an author holds the copyright to his work for all his life, and his heirs hold it for 70 years after his death, at which point the work becomes public domain. (source) In other countries ...
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32 votes

Want to publish unpublished work found in an auction storage unit

You cannot publish the work without permission. It was copyrighted the moment it was written. The fact that you 'purchased' the manuscript is no defence. By that token I could 'publish' all the books ...
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  • 5,233
31 votes
Accepted

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

Naming your character Violet Raine does not violate copyright. You can throw in a joke about the mom being a Prince fan but the father drew the line at naming the kid Purple. This would be ...
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  • 24.3k
27 votes

Borrowing Characters

I am not a lawyer, but you really should not do this. Orson Scott Card (OSC) and any partners he has (publisher, movie studios) own "Ender", and you cannot profit from it in any way whatsoever. OSC ...
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  • 92k
26 votes
Accepted

Can we "borrow" our answers to populate our own websites?

You have the legal right to reuse elsewhere what you post on Stack Exchange. It's your content. When posting to SE, you give SE a nonexclusive license to use it, and doing so requires that it's your ...
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  • 3,744
26 votes

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

The answer to your question depends on how strongly the set of names is associated with the preexisting work of fiction. Not just the individual names, but the set of names together. For example, ...
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25 votes

Who owns the copy if a copywriter provides copy as a paid service?

If you're in doubt about your legal obligations, find a copyright lawyer and get some professional advice.
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23 votes

Do I need copyright permission to rewrite an old classic?

No permission needed for public domain works As you note, after a certain amount of time, works fall into what is called the public domain, which means that you can do whatever you want with them, ...
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  • 3,573
22 votes

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

Minor point as I've met people who don't get this - authors and publishers are only paid for the new copies of their books. When you buy books from any kind of second-hand store, it's only the store ...
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  • 399
19 votes
Accepted

Can I Copyright My FaceBook Status Post?

Technically, you own all of the content you post on Facebook; therefore, you can copyright it. HOWEVER, by posting something on Facebook you: ...grant [Facebook] a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-...
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  • 1,053
19 votes

Who owns the copy if a copywriter provides copy as a paid service?

Your business is with the client. Tell the writer to contact the client. Inform your client about the demands the writer made and ask him what he wants you to do, tell him that the risk is his. Do ...
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  • 291
18 votes
Accepted

What should I do if my book's title is already taken?

If you think the title is the best fit for your novel, you should keep it. There are many novels with the same name in the market, which makes it a little hard to find a novel with smaller market ...
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  • 306
18 votes
Accepted

Do publishers care if submitted work has already been copyrighted?

If you live in a country that is a signatory to the Berne Convention (most countries are), then your work is copyrighted as soon as you create it, regardless of whether you go through any registration ...
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17 votes

Can someone publish a story that happened to you?

"Can someone take a story that happened to you, without your knowledge, and publish it?" Of course. Newspapers does this all the time. No one asks the president's permission before writing a news ...
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  • 25.2k
15 votes
Accepted

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

The name of a product cannot be copyrighted it is trademarked. The appearance of the product can be copyrighted, trademarked or patented (trade dress). Video games need additional license due to the ...
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  • 2,815
15 votes

How to express copyright when you use a pen name

The form for filing copyright has fields for both "Author" (the person whose name is on the work) and "Copyright Claimant" (the person who is claiming the copyright). Under Author, ...
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  • 336
15 votes

Borrowing Characters

This probably should have been raised over on law.se, but I hang out there, and can answer. (See this question and answer from law for more on fair use.) The literary homage in which one alludes to ...
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  • 4,014
14 votes
Accepted

Help! I accidentally gave my fictional character the same name as a fictional character on a TV show. Do I have to change it?

To contradict the other answers there is a difference between copyright and trademark law. You may want to sell your YA novel to a major publisher or wish to see film & TV rights, merchandising ...
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  • 1,161
14 votes

Can someone publish a story that happened to you?

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. You do have (limited) legal rights to your own name and story. In this case, if the author used your father's actual full legal name, and other ...
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13 votes

When an imagined world resembles or has similarities with a famous world

I say, ignore it. Sort of. I think you're right that the primary characteristics aren't the problem but it's all in how you flesh the race out. If your goal is humanoid aliens with human levels of ...
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13 votes

How can I know that I'm not plagiarizing?

El ver mucho y el leer mucho avivan los ingenios de los hombres. (Seeing much and reading much sharpens one's ingenuity.) ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra Your fear of plagiarism is a common anxiety ...
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  • 1,873
12 votes

Want to publish unpublished work found in an auction storage unit

For what it's worth I think what you're trying to do is awesome! As @Surtsey's answer (correctly) points out the work is still copyrighted regardless of the absence of an explicit copyright notice. ...
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  • 6,597
11 votes
Accepted

Unofficial Fan Fictions - How can I Secure Them?

If they're on the Internet, someone has a copy of them. They are free now, and you will never have full control of them again. I won't swear to it, but I think when EL James got her book contract ...
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11 votes

Who owns the copy if a copywriter provides copy as a paid service?

It all depends on the contract. (Bear in mind that I'm not a lawyer. This is my amateur understanding of U.S. copyright law.) If the client was foolish enough to purchase the text from the writer ...
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