Question about using real places in WIPs

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klbritt
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Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by klbritt » July 19th, 2012, 11:04 pm

While on vacation a couple weeks ago, I jotted down a novel idea and have since run with it (letting my other 88K WIP rest for a bit - DOH!)

Anyway, the setting of this WIP is a place that I am very familiar with and have strong ties to. Are there any "written" rules about using the real names of places, i.e. city, school, stores, etc. in the WIP? I've never lived in this place, but visited it often throughout my life. I wouldn't want to offend anyone who lives/works/goes to school, etc. there, so in that case, would it be best to totally fictionalize the whole place but use some of the landscapes and landmarks?

~Kristie
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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by CharleeVale » July 19th, 2012, 11:47 pm

There are plenty of popular books that use real settings. I don't think you should have a problem.

CV

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by Beethovenfan » July 19th, 2012, 11:57 pm

Twilight. Forks, Washington.
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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by klbritt » July 20th, 2012, 12:13 am

I thought it would be okay, but then I wonder if it wouldn't be prudent to contact the school/shops that you mention to ask if it's okay to use them in the novel..

~Kristie
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-: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read - Groucho Marx :-

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by Amanda Elizabeth » July 20th, 2012, 12:15 am

Haha Forks was the first thing I thought of. For that reason though, I actually decided to make up the suburban town name my book takes place in, and though in the book it is outside of Baltimore, it's actually mirrored after my own hometown outside of NYC. Some of the book does take place in Baltimore though and I use multiple real buildings there.

I think that would be a good question for Nathan if you are self-publishing. If you aren't, write the book, get an agent, get the manuscript sold and the publisher can handle that.

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by writersink » July 20th, 2012, 6:26 am

Amanda Elizabeth wrote: I think that would be a good question for Nathan if you are self-publishing. If you aren't, write the book, get an agent, get the manuscript sold and the publisher can handle that.
I agree. Just write the best book you can and worry about all the other stuff later.

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by oldhousejunkie » July 20th, 2012, 9:02 am

I don't know if I would use real shop or school names, but using names of towns, cities, etc should cause a problem. I wen to great lengths to research real towns/villages for my historical. I did use a real church name and I thought that it shouldn't cause a huge problem since it is a church. I just verified the denomination, of course!

Best of luck!

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by polymath » July 20th, 2012, 12:46 pm

Not a rule, a law, trademark law protects business' trademarks from undue ridicule and diminishment of value, though countered by fair use doctrines.

Don't portray a place in an undeserved negative light, respect a place's intellectual property value, and you should be all right under fair use doctrines.

Xerox used to be a proper noun, a trademark. It's now also used as a common noun and a verb. The unique identity has been lost by common usage. One example of diminution of value. But because the loss was through no single deep pocket source, there was no one to sue or charge with a criminal usage.

"Droid" is one example of an intellectual property trademark that has legal muscle behind it that will hammer down any, any usage.
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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by wilderness » July 20th, 2012, 5:30 pm

polymath wrote:
"Droid" is one example of an intellectual property trademark that has legal muscle behind it that will hammer down any, any usage.
Thanks for the tip! I was totally going to use that. Whoops.

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by Tigerbunny » July 20th, 2012, 6:12 pm

I am so glad I read your post! I'm half way through a WIP and have been wondering this very same thing. Thanks for posting!

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by LizV » July 23rd, 2012, 9:12 am

polymath wrote:"Droid" is one example of an intellectual property trademark that has legal muscle behind it that will hammer down any, any usage.
What, so they're suing the Star Wars franchise? I think there's a pretty clear case of prior art on that one. (Not that it was original to Lucas, either.)

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by Amanda Elizabeth » July 23rd, 2012, 10:17 am

Lucas does not own the word Droid -- he owns it in relation to movies and robots. Verizon owns the word Droid in relation to cell phones/devices. It doesn't necessarily matter how much clout a company has when it comes to using their product/name. In Fifty Shades of Grey (yes yes, I read them, hang your heads in shame) they use the word Blackberry on practically every single page. They also make multiple mentions of the iPad. As long as there is no defamation of the company/product, no false pretenses(Starbucks selling burger and fries for a ridiculous example), or using the product name to sell your book, they can't tell you that you can't mention them "just because" without first taking you to court and why would someone want to endorse a company like that in their book anyway?

Using the names of stores could be tricky, because you want to make sure it doesn't paint a negative picture of the business -- which is someone's livelihood. I don't think I'd even feel comfortable having a negative event happen in the name of a real restaurant or store, even if the location has nothing to do with the event. And how about the people in your novel who will own/work there? You say you have ties to the community -- will it offend anyone? Will someone get the wrong idea and think you're picturing a character as their fictional equivalent?

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polymath
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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by polymath » July 23rd, 2012, 11:43 am

Lucasfilm Ltd. owns the trademark on the term Droid. Verizon Wireless licenses from Lucasfilm Ltd. the use of the word for labeling its Android operating system. Having been burnt by indiscriminate government and public usage and subsequent diminishment of value of the term "Star Wars" for the missile shield bluff, Lucas is ever more cautious about letting his trademarks diminish in value.

Me, my pockets are not so deep I could withstand a litigation. And Lucasfilm Ltd. would have a cause for action and favored legal standing for litigating an entertainment use like in fiction.

Does Fifty Shades of Grey spell the word "Blackberry" or "BlackBerry"? The medial case, a now-common graphic text icon and logo usage, term is a trademark, the former, a common word, is not and cannot be trademarked except in special, narrow circumstances because it is a common word.
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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by Amanda Elizabeth » July 23rd, 2012, 1:11 pm

Checked just for you and it is BlackBerry :)

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Re: Question about using real places in WIPs

Post by Sommer Leigh » July 23rd, 2012, 4:48 pm

Kind of on topic, there was a post today on GalleyCat about author Patrick Weinsink getting a cease and desist letter from the Jack Daniels trademark lawyer. His book cover looked too much like their trademark, but the cease and desist letter is extremely professional and polite, and they even offered to pay for a cover redesign for the author. Classy, no?

I am thinking most are not that classy about it. But I thought it was worth sharing.

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/ja ... ten_b54722
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