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

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What does “//” or “///” mean in legal documents [migrated]

I see // or /// after text in legal documents. OPTION 1. Is it used on ANY PAGE to indicate "this line intentionally left blank"? Example: there are a few blank lines at the end of a page but there ...
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1answer
42 views

Can I use a real college in my fiction book? [duplicate]

So for the novel I'm writing, the main character is a college student living in Michigan. Is it okay for me to have her go to a college that really is in Michigan? I wouldn't be displaying it in a ...
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2answers
44 views

best licensing option for freest possible sharing of lyrics while retaining the right to get paid if someone else makes money from them

I would like to share many song/poetry/lyric works. I would like to share them as freely as possible, allowing modifications, use of small pieces or lines or concepts, etc.. I want to encourage ...
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3answers
77 views

Using the name of fictional characters/series in a different context

I was wondering about if I could use the name of the fictional character Magneto in the scifi book I'm writing. There is no direct connection between the Marvel/DC universe and my book. Instead, I ...
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1answer
69 views

permission from the building owners needed to depict a drawing of it on cover of novel?

Do I need permission from the owners of a building to depict a drawing of it on the cover of my novel?
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3answers
107 views

Referencing real and fictional people/characters in novels - legal implications

I've been going out of my way to avoid referencing famous people in my novel as well as fictional characters, but I keep seeing pop culture references in other books I read as well as in TV shows, ...
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2answers
35 views

Including a book extract in my blog

Can I include an extract of another persons book in my blog? If so, are there any restrictions that I must follow? PS: If I am asking this question in the wrong place, I will delete it and ask for ...
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1answer
33 views

Do I need copyright, trademark or other registrations, to publish stories by Shakespeare?

I have written summary and storyline of Shakespeare's plays. I need to know the process of publication, and the legal notes, on publishing synopses, where the original author is someone else.
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5answers
332 views

Attributing a real quote to a fictional character

I've looked at a few fictional character quote questions on here but none seem to hit onto my question: Can I attribute a real quote to a fictional character? That is, can I take a quote that was ...
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3answers
262 views

I'm scared that my story is plagiarizing another story

I am working on my debut story. In my freetime, I write another story that will be the start of a series. The series consists of Steampunk fairytale retellings. Lately, I have been worrying that it ...
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1answer
50 views

Questions on a plausibility of a Naruto Homage

I've been itching to write a web fiction serial that's also a homage to Naruto since I found out the manga ended and went on a re-reading binge... Anyway it'll loosely have similar ideas i.e. clans. ...
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2answers
74 views

Can I write about an old and real person that is strongly related to a company?

I'm thinking about Henri Nestlé, born in 1814 and deceased in 1890. He was the founder of the company with the same name, located in Vevey (Switzerland). He is going to be a not-so-important ...
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1answer
360 views

Illustrations for a children's book to be republished

I illustrated a book 20 years ago. No royalties: one-time use. Did not sign a contract for copyright. It is considered an orphan. Now the author wants a new publisher to print same illustrations. Do I ...
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4answers
160 views

Can I use already used fictional language?

When creating a world where there are either aliens or fantasy races, you know that they should speak their own language. But the truth is, that for story purposes, such races will speak their ...
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1answer
91 views

(Negative) references to real people and places in a novel

I was wondering about how much freedom a writer has to refer to real people and places in a fictional work and in what situations it's best to get permission or avoid it altogether. I do know that ...
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1answer
40 views

Best practices for designating prose as intellectual property?

--Subtitle - What is the cheapest & most simplistic proof an idea belongs to me that will hold up in court. Is my (explained below) example still good? Is there a better way? When I come up with ...
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3answers
862 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.
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2answers
449 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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6answers
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 ...
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3answers
371 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 ...
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2answers
765 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 ...
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3answers
114 views

Write a book with “protected” characters/ideas without copyright?

I want to write a book about an idea/story I've had for many years that I find many will truly enjoy when furnished out; however, I don't want this to be "open-source"; I don't want anyone to be able ...
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4answers
135 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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4answers
95 views

Use of old ads in a book

There will be approximately one dozen images scheduled to appear in my upcoming book. These are, in the majority, old ads from various clients, industries and campaigns I have worked on. I make no ...
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1answer
46 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 ...
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1answer
80 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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2answers
109 views

How to use creative commons materials?

Creative commons materials are popular on the web, and people are using these materials for creating new websites, as there is no severe copyright restriction. How does creative commons copyright ...
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2answers
84 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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4answers
206 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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1answer
76 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
438 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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3answers
1k 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, ...
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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2answers
39 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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4answers
123 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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3answers
353 views

Consequences of autobiographical stories whose events are potentially illegal?

I have been writing erotic stories that are based on true incidents in my life. Since some of those incidents (which occurred many years ago now) have been of questionable legality, I am unsure if ...
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2answers
213 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
74 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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5answers
4k views

Is Academic Ghostwriting legal?

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 ...
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3answers
73 views

How does one determine how much of a song you can use without paying?

In the movie, "The Perez Family," there was a scene that featured the band playing something like two lines of the song "I Will Survive" before there was a voice-over. In my screenplay, I have the ...
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2answers
158 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
169 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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3answers
1k 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 ...
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3answers
368 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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1answer
195 views

Getting My Rights Back

Back in the late 90's I wrote a picture book which eventually was published in 2002 by a big name publishing house. The book was critically acclaimed, won an award, and went through a couple of ...
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1answer
66 views

What was the legal doctrine or standard that made the following acceptable?

In writing a review about the movie "Moneyball" some years ago, I noted that the name of Billy Beane's assistant had been changed to "Peter Brand." The issue was that the movie was "based on a true ...
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2answers
133 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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141 views

Poor man's copyright techniques

I'm about to get an editor and submit my full book to a publisher. I had my book notarized. Then I put it in a large orange envelope and mailed it to myself so the UPS could put a date stamp on it. ...
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1answer
93 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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5answers
258 views

Legal ramifications for writing about fictional relationships with celebs

I’m thinking about developing a blog where the main character is fictional and has fictional relationships with well known celebrities and sports figures. Are there any legal ramifications for ...