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

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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 ...
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4answers
101 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 ...
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1answer
65 views

Releases needed for picture books?

Do you need location releases for national parks and model releases for Pets to use in picture books?
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1answer
63 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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2answers
83 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 ...
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2answers
115 views

How to get permission for using software screenshots in book?

I am writing a book which includes a review of old software and I would like to add a couple of screenshots for some of them. How do I go about this legally or, alternatively, does this qualify as ...
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1answer
65 views

Nonfiction: Need signed releases and/or pay subjects I am interviewing?

I am interested in writing a nonfiction book on social media. The book will be primarily practical advice based on my experience. However, I'm planning to personally interview some industry ...
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1answer
144 views

Legal and Social effect of story involving real life people

I have written a novel based on my past life experiences, however the story involves a few people who might not like the idea of getting their stories published. What is the legal and social effects ...
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1answer
143 views

permission to use emails from famous deceased person

I finished a creative non-fiction memoir about my secret life as a miracle worker. I am using three emails to me from a now deceased wildly popular tech icon. Our phone conversation as well as the ...
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1answer
68 views

Is anybody aware of a good way I can determine whether or not something is public domain, or royalty free?

I'm writing a textbook and I'd like to include an old paper from Alan Turing as an appendix. Searches on Google turn up copies of the paper, but I cannot seem to find anything explicitly indicating if ...
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2answers
685 views

Do I need an LLC to self-publish a political book in Florida?

Do I need to form an LLC to self-publish a political book out of Florida? Although, I have tried very hard not to break any laws, I am worried about frivolous or spiteful lawsuits. I am trying to do a ...
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4answers
66 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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3answers
131 views

Can you use a company's name as title for a short story?

I'm writing a short story about a girl whose boyfriend is doing in internship in another city. She goes to visit him every week. But the guy always call at the last minute, saying he can't come and ...
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3answers
163 views

What steps can be taken to avoid libel / copyright issues in social commentary?

I'm interested in the social, cultural, and political landscape around me, and I think I've "got a book in me" on the topic. A major source of material would be the writings of everyday people in ...
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2answers
133 views

What are “industry leading royalties”?

In the breakdown description I received from a publisher, they mention that they also pay industry leading royalties of ##%. What does that mean?
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5answers
243 views

Writing an article avoiding Libel

I will be creating a blog article that talks about Illuminati in our local country. I will be talking about the "organization's" role in making specific artists popular (for a duration) and in return ...
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2answers
121 views

Do different formats of the same book need to be registered separately?

We're self-publishing a book in both paperback and e-book format. The content between the versions will be identical except for some formatting corrections (mainly white-space) made for the digital ...
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2answers
472 views

When self publishing, are there benefits to making a company to represent your books? Is that then a publishing house?

Is it possible to create a company that acts like a publishing house? I imagine registering a company and contracting the novels I write under its name, and then putting them on Amazon and ...
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2answers
36 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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2answers
142 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
551 views

Create and publish collection of public domain poems from 19th century

Can I create a collection of original 19th century public domain poems without violating copyright laws?
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2answers
141 views

Does DRM affect copyright or the restrictions on distribution by the author?

I hear how it is easier for the user to select DRM (digital rights management) free options so that they can use more software packages to read the book, but does that affect in anyway the authors ...
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3answers
307 views

Writing your last will and testament

Coming from a background where I've only ever seen readings of a last will and testament in movies, what kind of style would be expected of such a document? Some personal stuff and then legalese ...
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2answers
81 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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2answers
82 views

Can a textbook contain heavy reference to other materials?

I find that nearly all college textbooks are self-contained. All of the readings, exercises, and multimedia (e.g. videos on a provided CD) are provided in a single package. I think textbooks suffer ...
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1answer
117 views

How far does libel extend in writing?

Suppose I wrote a book. Suppose it had a normal modern fictional story about it. Suppose that the characters aren't based on real people and have no relation to anyone. Suppose in the background of ...
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1answer
71 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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1answer
224 views

Will 9/11 fiction get a writer into trouble with the US Government?

I want to write about the very interesting topic of 'what really happened' on 9/11. How close can I possibly get to real characters and facts without getting sued? Facts I might include in my work: ...
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0answers
33 views

Using true/real names and events in a fiction novel [duplicate]

I would like to know where to reference what true or real names and events can be used in fiction novel. Example: Can you use words such as NFL or names of awards? I understand you cannot use ...
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2answers
93 views

Collaborating with Stephen King, but not the original

My name is Richard Devine and I am currently working on a collaboration with Stephen King, (obviously NOT the original author himself). We currently act under the pseudo name 'KD Novels' ...
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4answers
525 views

Intellectual Property Rights & Reuse of the Written Material

I started freelance writing in the January of 2012 and I am providing services for SEO, Blog Articles, User Manuals, Travel Sites and Technical Documentation. Since then I have this question in mind. ...
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3answers
355 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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3answers
59 views

DIT:Is it legal if a write a book about an artist?

An example is "Miley Cyrus transformation - a marketing approach" I wont use their stuff inside. No copyrighted material, for example, pictures So for my previous example, i would write how miley ...
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1answer
241 views

Inserting truthful (derogatory) statements in text

If I am writing and know that somebody kind of famous did something illegal and horrible (it's a well known fact with this individual, but they were never charged), can it be put in writing or does ...
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201 views

copy right issue with using exact Text from a text book

Here is a question related to a website providing mathematics solutions for students. Here are details: Students will enter the page number and problem number on the website, and the site will show ...
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237 views

Avoiding legal issues with plot similarities between my book and a movie in production

I am writing a novel whose plot that I just learned is going to be made into a movie---how can I protect myself if similar plot points are used so that I don't get sued and vice versa?
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4answers
114 views

Are there copyright issues with a novella title if it's a famous line?

If you use a line or phrase from a really famous poem that most can recite as a title for a novella, is it stealing? What can be done to give proper credit?
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4answers
183 views

Can a plagiarist sue one who plagiarized them?

I sometimes write rather vicious satirical pieces that heavily reference (arguably - but possibly beyond the point of plagiarism; definitely the same setting, the same characters, strong references to ...
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2answers
194 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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2answers
119 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
66 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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1answer
81 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
41 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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1answer
96 views

Legal issue of naming a character after a song character

Legally can you name characters after songs (poems, etc.) so long as those characters don't purport to affiliated w/ the song or the song writer/author? A similar question here asks the opposite ...
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2answers
53 views

Copyright of a TV series when used as reference?

Is it considered fair use to have screenshot, or character likeness, in a book as a descriptor or reference. For example, when describing time-travellers, can I use a few screenshots from Doctor Who? ...
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2answers
135 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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4answers
119 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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1answer
225 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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1answer
120 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 ...
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1answer
28 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 ...