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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 ...
41 votes

How to prevent ebook piracy from stealing your livelihood?

Is there a practical, effective way to prevent this IP theft? Yes. As someone who has pirated countless books, I might give you some insight into my frame of mind. There's a very simple way you can ...
39 votes

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

Waving a wand and wiggling the fingers while magic happens is theatrics. In Faust, Goethe has the Devil make fun of a witch for being too precious and ceremonious with her magic, so you are in good ...
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34 votes

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

The concept of the 'Magic Wand' predates Harry Potter by at least a handful of millennia. Consider the 'Rod of Circe' in Homer's Odyssey which is used to magically transform Odysseus's men into pigs. ...
29 votes
Accepted

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

Here is the entry for thalidomide in Merriam-Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1983): thalidomide n {phthalic acid + -id- (fr. imide) + -o- + imide} (1962) : a sedative and hypnotic drug ...
28 votes
Accepted

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

Romeo and Juliet is in the public domain. And it's not even the source material - Shakespeare borrowed the story from somewhere else, (Pyramus and Thysbe is one very similar story, and Ovid didn't ...
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 ...
  • 95.2k
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-...
  • 1,053
18 votes

How to prevent ebook piracy from stealing your livelihood?

There is probably no stopping of file sharing in the modern world. But there is a chance we can make it cool to be backer and investor, sponsor and patron. Patreon, flattr, kickstarter, indiegogo ...
18 votes

Accusing private figures of crime in print

Although you have the right to tell the truth, that is not defined by what you just know must be true. The truth must be verifiable. What proof do you have to publish, or to back up what you publish (...
  • 95.2k
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 ...
  • 25.4k
16 votes

Authorship implications of presenting one’s manuscript as an older one in the prologue

Pretending to "have found and edited an obscure manuscript" is quite a common literary device. A few other examples include Neil Gaiman's The Dream Hunters (Illustrated by Yoshitako Amano, part of the ...
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 ...
  • 4,262
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 ...
13 votes

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

If your inspiration story is in the public domain (which all of Shakespeare is), you have no legal obligation to disclose your source material. Though with Shakespeare, people will of course figure ...
13 votes
Accepted

Outsourcing people to make a cover

I've had very good luck with fiverr.com (yes, two r's). It is called "fiverr" because the artists are supposed to be able to do some (relatively small) thing for $5 US. I have zero financial interest ...
  • 95.2k
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 ...
  • 1,875
12 votes
Accepted

Is my book legal? Is my story too similiar to Harry Potter

There are two elements to your question. The first is the similarity to an existing work. That question is answered here: Is my story too similar to an existing published work? The second is the ...
11 votes
Accepted

What is "Buying Back My Book"?

The reference is to buying out of a publisher's exclusivity clause, in order to regain the rights required to republish your own work elsewhere. Writers often refer to "getting your rights back" for ...
  • 4,781
11 votes

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

I would suggest you read this link (with actual lawyers responding). Basically if you are not infringing on a copyright, you don't have to say anything. Your example of Romeo and Juliet is in the ...
  • 95.2k
11 votes

Outsourcing people to make a cover

There are sites where artists who do book covers list themselves as looking for work. And there are individual websites or social media for various artists. Look around and find someone you like, or ...
11 votes

When does inspiration across artforms become plagiarism

Do Songs and Paintings have the same rules and protections as Books and Film for copying (into written form). Songs and paintings are protected under copyright laws, but it might be helpful to ...
  • 25.3k
11 votes

How to deal with moral/legal subjects in writing?

Making political, moral or legal arguments in novels can always get you backlash, especially when it is obvious who or what you are criticizing. If it is a topic with particular passions/people behind ...
  • 751
11 votes

How can I know that I'm not plagiarizing?

You are allowed to reuse ideas, but you are not allowed to reuse exact characters, names, or blocks of text. Let's take The Lord of the Rings as an example. You're not allowed to use the character ...
  • 311
10 votes

Do I really need disclaimers?

If you really think someone is going to use your book as a how-to, then write a preface which is a single large, comprehensive disclaimer. Put all the "don't do this at home" copy there, and if it's ...
10 votes

How to prevent ebook piracy from stealing your livelihood?

If you want people to be honest, make it easy for them to do so. Eighteen years ago, there was a hugely popular computer program called "Napster". It let people share their music collections with ...
  • 620

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