Need Copyright help writing a book. Please help!

7 replies
I am writing a book for the first time and I need some help with the copyright law. The one I am confuse is can I use a trademark, a famous person name who is alive, and exact word by word definition of a word from a dictionary website without asking permission from them directly since I will be only using it for comparison, comment, research and educational purposes. Am I allowed to do that? You can read the copyright fair use page here: U.S. Copyright Office - Fair Use
#book #copyright #writing
  • Profile picture of the author ibringjoy
    If you are writing anything besides original content, the best thing to do would be to consult a copyright attorney for what all you can use and what you can't. It's certainly better than guessing, or trying to interpret all the ins and outs of the law yourself.

    Even if we told you some accepted general practices, none of us know exactly what is in your book, or how you are using the non-original content.

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    • Profile picture of the author otaku3230
      Okay this is how i will exactly use the dictionary definition word for word from a website.

      Example: I will be writing on Harmful effects of pornography. So I will give the first example of its effects as
      Addiction and write the definition of addiction word by word like this:

      Addiction: The term "addiction" is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive physical dependence, such as: drug addiction, alcoholism, compulsive overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction, etc.

      Then write a paragraph or two how pornography can cause addiction.

      And i will be write in this style for at least 20 or more words and write the definition of it word by word from a website like this one: Psychology Matters: Glossary.

      On trademarks I will use famous pornographies companies and criticize how badly they influense us with their entertainment media. So i will just name them and also have their logo printed on the book. Same goes for famous people but not use pictures.

      So is this all okay to do right and is protected with copyright fair use policy?
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      • Profile picture of the author zapseo

        No one -- unless they are a lawyer -- is really qualified to answer your question.

        People have asked for legal advice on the Warrior Forum in the past --and got something that someone thought was legal advice.

        And got burned by following it.

        In the strongest possible recommendation: legal questions should be asked of lawyers, not internet marketers.
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        • Profile picture of the author otaku3230
          Okay I understand now.

          If anyone don't mind, can they also tell me do i have to register with the usa copyright government if i live in the usa? Can i not register my book in another country online and without living their like canada and without being a citizen of it?

          Also, can i just pick up the copyright certificate for my book when it is approved from the office without them having to mail it? It is because of privacy reasons.

          Please, please let me know if you know anything about this. Thank you!
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  • Profile picture of the author DeenaEsq
    Ok, so everyone's asking for a lawyer's opinion and here it is...

    First, yes. You are allowed to name other companies in your book under the fair use exception for commentary and critique. However, fair use requires that you use only the smallest portion that is necessary to identify that company.

    For example, if you were talking about McDonalds, you're allowed to do that. You're not required to call it "the fast food restaurant that uses the golden arches as it's logo", but you're not allowed to use the name, the logo and the slogan to identify the company. The name is sufficient to establish who you're talking about.

    The next problem that you're going to have is that you're skating a very thin line between acceptable speech and libel. Defamation of these companies will very likely not only get you sued, but you'll lose. Make sure that you don't say anything untrue and that nothing gets stated as fact that is only an opinion.

    As far as registration, the US Copyright Office (U.S. Copyright Office) doesn't want people showing up at their offices. You can send in your registration and they will send you a certificate. If you're worried about privacy, get a P.O. Box or have it sent to your publisher or lawyer's office.

    That being said, you don't have to register in the US to have copyright protection. Once it's written, it's protected. Just make sure you have it printed out with the computer's date stamp on it to evidence your completion date.

    As far as other countries, signatory countries to the Berne Convention or the Universal Copyright Convention will honor your US copyright. You can find more information here:
    U.S. Copyright Office - International Copyright

    The dictionary definitions are a stickier problem. There is argument about whether they're an original expression or not and therefore protected by copyright law. My view is that they are sufficiently original to warrant copyright protection. I would suggest either getting permission from the author/publisher of the dictionary to use them with attribution to the source or I would suggest writing your own.

    Now to the final, and most important, question. Are you going to get sued? It's likely that you will. I've done a lot of work for "adult" sites and they have the resources to fight you if they get their backs up.

    My advice would be to be as careful as possible. You might even want to have an attorney review any of the sections that you think might be defamatory.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

    __________________________________________________ _______
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    Deena Burgess, Esq.
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