General legal questions. There are also separate tags for "copyright" and "creative commons".

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21
votes
9answers
540 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
14
votes
8answers
560 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
285 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
653 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
200 views

Creative Commons and writing on the web

I usually write on the web; I would like to license my writings using one of the Creative Commons license, but I can't understand how that license can protect our works. We really like to share our ...
9
votes
3answers
269 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? ...
9
votes
2answers
735 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
1k 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? ...
8
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
516 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
130 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Legality of Academic Ghostwriting

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 ...
7
votes
4answers
123 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, ...
7
votes
3answers
165 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
226 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
141 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
457 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) ...
6
votes
2answers
548 views

My Ex husband's wife self published a non fiction 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
499 views

How do co-authors' rights to a manuscript work?

When an individual writes a novel, he owns all rights over the manuscript until he starts selling those rights to others. What is the situation when the novel is a collaborative work? How are such ...
6
votes
1answer
72 views

Shared world contract

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 ...
6
votes
2answers
779 views

What permissions do I need to write a non-fiction book based on personal interviews?

I am writing a non-fiction book based on recorded interviews with several people. I have recorded verbal consent to be interviewed for the book from each person. One of the interviewees has since ...
6
votes
1answer
197 views

Legal effect of standard fiction disclaimer

Does the standard fiction disclaimer (... any resemblance to persons living or dead...) have any legal effect? I am most interested in citations of reasonably authoritative legal opinions. Especially ...
5
votes
3answers
137 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What are the legal implications and best practices for publishing screenshots of web sites in a book?

I want to publish screenshots of web sites in a book and provide a critique of each screenshot. Many of the screenshots would be cropped to just show a section of a page. Adobe has published these ...
5
votes
1answer
138 views

Stories based on news: are they allowed?

I just read a story on the news that made me go: Oh my, this would make a great short story. I've never written a story based on a news article before. So I'm wondering, will someone sue me? Am I ...
5
votes
3answers
129 views

Converting the MIT License into a limerick

In 2005, Alexander Genaud created a Poetic License based on the MIT license. It consisted of 2 Limericks which attempted to distill the already meager license jargon into a fun, simple, and tiny text. ...
5
votes
1answer
151 views

What permissions do I need for nonfiction travelogue?

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
61 views

“ing” words in technical translations from Japanese to English

I proofread technical documents that have been translated from Japanese into English. The translations must be "literal." I cannot, generally, make them more concise. One thing that pops up over ...
5
votes
1answer
613 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
774 views

When do I need to obtain permission to photograph and write about a business, work of art, or person?

I am preparing a book which will include lots of short passages, on a variety of subjects, many of which are related to a single area in a city. Each passage will also have a photograph, which I ...
4
votes
3answers
394 views

How can I get a copyright for my e-book?

As I'm a new writer, I don't know how to get copyright for my first book. Could anyone help me please? My book is an e-book in E-Pub format.
4
votes
2answers
146 views

Dealing with potential copyright issues: manga

I have been spinning yarn around Kuchiyose Edo Tensei, a reincarnation technique I came across in the popular anime/manga series Naruto. Further developing on that, the concept of bloodlines (or ...
4
votes
1answer
393 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
722 views

Do I need permission from people I am writing about if I am writing about a true story that was reported in the media?

I am writing a factual book, that will [hopefully] primarily detail real events that have happened in the past, that are related to the subject of the book. The real events have all been reported in ...
4
votes
2answers
255 views

Is it safe to write about a fictional murder in a real-life location?

I am writing a novel, and part of the plot has one character killing another in a specific real-life location. I mean the setting is extremely specific - for example, a particular hotel, or one ...
4
votes
1answer
842 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
149 views

Can I write reference books about a fictional universe from an existing franchise?

I want to write some reference books containing details about the fictional universe of some popular franchises, such as Tintin, or Star Trek. This would contain short plot summaries (1-paragraph in ...
4
votes
2answers
249 views

Is it legal to use a parental advisory on a book?

I am a motivational speaker and am self publishing a nonfiction book about child abuse. i ahve some inappropriate language in the book and want to know if my designer by law can use a parental ...
4
votes
1answer
87 views

How would an agent approach a debut piece written by two new authors (co-authors)

This is still all in the realm of the hypothetical, but given that it becomes closer to the reality, I'm very curious... Let's say you have two new, previously unpublished and unrepresented authors ...
4
votes
1answer
185 views

How can I prepare for a career in instruction writing and editing?

To technical background authors (e.g. Isaac Rabinovitch) who would possibly work in teams with non-technically trained writers: How can I prepare myself to be able to do what you do? How can I ...
4
votes
3answers
302 views

Can a mock-magazine with fictitious content count legally as fan fiction?

I contribute to a motoring website, well, one that's got Photoshop of cars, motoring history etc. - it's a small obscure site with only a few users. Recently I've been learning InDesign and Quark ...
3
votes
2answers
293 views

Do published authors have rights to use their own book cover images?

With the caveat that I'm sure it varies based on publisher, genre, etc., but -- generally, if you were an author who was published and the book cover was designed by the publisher, but you wanted to ...
3
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
162 views

UK laws broken by piracy of novels

I'm preparing some briefing notes on various open licences and I'm looking for some clarification on legal aspects of standard practice in the UK. (If there is a better SE site for this question feel ...
3
votes
3answers
143 views

Disclaimer when writing about governmental entities

I've read many novels involving characters working at the NASA, Vatican, Secret Police, high government officers (Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson for example) and doing stuff that I wouldn't like being made ...
3
votes
4answers
95 views

Using emails in an autobiography

I am writing about my life experiences and I want to use email correspondence between myself and another to tell part of the story. I have not used real names in my work and have altered the emails ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

Releases needed for picture books?

Do you need location releases for national parks and model releases for Pets to use in picture books?
3
votes
2answers
76 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 ...