Page 1 of 1

Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 4:15 am
by mark.benjamin
I've reached the stage of editing my novel and I'm a tad perplexed as to some of the description that is needed...

For example can one say - driving a Ferrari or do you have to say an expensive Italian sports car?
- drinking from a bottle of Jack Walker or just whiskey?
- listening to Jay-Z or listening to hip-hop?
- wearing Nike trainers or sport shoes?
- wearing an Armani suit or an expensive Italian suit?
- a Rolex or an expensive gold watch?

I'm confused as to whether it could be an infringement on copright...

Thanks in advance

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 5:12 am
by Hillsy
Ferraris, rolexs, armani suits.....Are you writing a novel or a hip-hop song?...hahaha

Seriously though grab almost any book at random and you'll probably find any number of named products - you just don't realise they're there. Any modern day novel without prodact names would be so awash with generalities it'd be almost undreadable. You might have issues if you called a new company that made toilet/shower combos 'Ferrari', or if you had a crazy ass capitalist dictator called Dave Nestle-Cadbury, you could possibly (and even then at a stretch) have something to worry about. Otherwise I wouldn't bother about it.

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 7:16 am
by Jaime
I've used brand names, and will leave them in. If I ever get to the publishing stage, I'm sure they'll let me know if it needs to be changed!

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 7:50 am
by MaryLA
Using brand names is quite acceptable in most novels, but the connotations need to be studied carefully because a character wearing Armani, sporting a Rolex, running in Nikes and driving a Ferrari sounds like an ad exec in parody of his profession. The stereotyping can be offputting -- images of that ubiquitous red Ferrari, the playboy in Armani smoking a predictable brand of cigarette or drinking a predictable brand of bottled water, choosing his ultra-reliable pack of condoms, ordering his predictable single malt etc.

I've tried building in more character detail around brands: to give him a deep-sea diver's Tauchmeister watch to fit with his mysterious expedition to the Galapagos, have him wear a crumpled Armani shirt to counter the suggestion of vanity, have him drive his wife's new Chevrolet Corvette and complain about it.

Just an idea --

Mary LA

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 10:58 am
by casnow
I think using brand names is perfectly acceptable, as long as you use them for description... if he's driving his Ferrari, and then you go onto describe how it is a terrible ride, breaks down every other month, and how it shifts poorly than you might better be off using the generic "Italian sports car" for legal reasons. I think using brand names in modern fiction is very useful. When you say an "Bob is wearing Armani suit", I instantly picture the cut, color, and style of the suit, in addition to picturing that Bob is wealthy (or likes to show it), whereas if you say he is wearing an expensive suit, I might not picture what you want, and I might picture what is "expensive" for me, and not picture Armani-expensive.

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 11:15 am
by mark.benjamin
@ hillsy: lol no not writing a hip-hop song...yet!! haha So how about writing concerning a famous/infamous person then? Like a mother walking into her teenage son's room and finding him watching the Paris Hilton sex tape? Or a character bumping into Bill Gates and having a word with him? What would happen then?

@ MaryLA: I agree with you there about the stereo-typing but I just wanted a general idea concerning brand names so wrote down the first brands that came to mind. Thank you for your input however! I now know how to spell Tauchmeister:)

@ casnow: Yeah that makes sense too when writing about a flashy character as that was the intention. But concerning the legal reasons in potraying a brand name as 'bad', what if the character is an alcoholic, abusive person whose favourite liqour is Johnny Walker??

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 1:49 pm
by Anavaz
I can tell you this, I've read a lot of books with brand names in there. I'm actually taking a class on intelectual property and we are right now on brand names (called trademarks) and to be sure and give you a true answer I will ask my professor.

P.S. - I LOL about the writing a hip-hop song comment :)

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 5:20 pm
by Dankrubis
I just recently read something about this but for the life of me I can't remember where. I think the article said it was acceptable to mention these things, but to watch for libel. Like, yeah, a character can get drunk off Johnny Walker and beat his wife, but don't say Johnny Walker gives you super powers (even though it totally does).

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 19th, 2010, 9:03 pm
by Anavaz
I asked my professor and said there's no problem mentioning brand names. You are only mentioning, you're not making money out of it, and yes libel is the only thing you need to watch out for. Hope that helped.

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 20th, 2010, 3:25 pm
by mark.benjamin
@ Anavaz: Thank you so much that helped loads! All I have to watch out for is libel otherwise brand names are okay to mention. Hope that helps other people who may have been confused as I was. Last thing I want is to get sued!!

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 22nd, 2010, 3:02 am
by Kaitlyne
I've got loads of these in mine, too, and think the same as Jamie. If it needs to be changed, someone will tell me if I ever get that far. Honestly, though, I think the only two I have to potentially watch out for are mentioning PETA (one character jokes about them, but another sticks up for them, so who knows), and my MC watching The Colbert Report. I actually kind of think I'd have to get permission for that one just because of how it's done, but if I couldn't I'd just rework the scene a bit.

I think the reasons movies, etc. have to watch out is because companies pay to have their brands put into movies and TV shows and it's considered a form of advertisement. I'd have to go look up the whole thing about that again, but I've read something about it before. If I get less lazy later I'll look it up again and let you know.

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 29th, 2010, 10:30 am
by linguista
What about names of people, songs, movies, etc? Is that all free territory too?

Re: Copywritten or not??

Posted: January 29th, 2010, 11:48 am
by Anavaz
I would say it's okay if you're just saying that the character is listening to the latest hit of X artist or you want to see the movie of X actor or that he/she looks like X things like that. Just as you don't cause any libel it's okay. I have mentioned popular songs in my MS and movies too and other great authors like Miguel de Cervantes.