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I am writing (and self publishing) a non-fiction travelogue about a cross country roadtrip. I have already obtained permission from the person I traveled with, and there are no other main characters involved. What I am wondering is, what do I need to get permission for with regard to places we visited?

It is my understanding that as long as I am being truthful about a hotel, business, or attraction I visited, I am OK (while I mentioned some things that could be improved at certain locations, I didn't say anything paticularly negative). When giving any historical background of a location, I will be citing the sources where I obtained that information. I have also been planning on listing the websites for each location in the back of the book. Am I correct in understanding that this should all be fine, or would any of this require legal permissions?

I am slightly unsure about any photos that I may use. I personally took all photos myself and the ones I would like include are just of the location without any people in the picture. I'm wondering what, if any, permissions I would need to get from the business or attraction in the photo? Furthermore, is there a difference with regard to legality between publishing a photo of a national landmark like Mount Rushmore, versus a privately owned location like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or a local museum?

Lastly, (and I think I already know the answer to this but am not completely sure), is it legal to mention the name of a television show or movie without permission when I'm doing little more than just mentioning that we watched it?

I tried to research these questions and have found conflicting answers so that made me a bit nervous and unsure just what I could do. Because I am self publishing I would also like to avoid the cost of having a lawyer go through it if possible.

Thanks in advance!

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1 Answer 1

In general, there are no copyright issues that you need to worry about as long as you're truthfully reporting your own experiences. In particular, there is nothing that prevents you from mentioning companies, products, locations, or people by name, so long as you are not lying or attempting to present yourself as having some official affiliation with those companies.

All rights to a photograph lie with the photographer, not the subjects photographed. So you don't need to worry about photographs, either, with one minor exception: if you photograph a work of visual art, reproducing that photograph may constitute copying the original (copyright-protected) work of art, and so may be prohibited by law. Buildings (such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and landmarks (such as Mt. Rushmore) are not subject to this restriction.

You are also free to print photographs of people that you took yourself, without requiring the permission of the people in the photograph (though it may be considered polite to ask). The only exception to this is if the photograph or accompanying content may be considered defamatory.

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Just to add - the TV show/film thing should be fine, as you are only referring to it. –  Schroedingers Cat Aug 2 '12 at 8:03
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With photos, keep in mind that the people in photos you wish to publish have privacy rights, so you will need to obtain a release from them. –  Cliff Hangerson Page Aug 13 '12 at 17:10

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