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Thread: Is it okay to use a title that someone else has already used?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    Is it okay to use a title that someone else has already used?

    I'm preparing to pitch a column to some magazines. I put 3 sample pieces together and also a heading, for them, which fits the bill pretty well. I did an internet search on this heading/title and only one hit came up for an essay with the same title published in 2004 on somebody's website. Do I have to be concerned about this?

  2. #2
    Dragon Writer Varthikes's Avatar
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    I've seen two different books with the title "The White Dragon". And, there are many movies that have identical titles.

    So, I don't think it's a problem. As long as the content is different.
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  3. #3
    Big Meanie Head "A" Is For "Agent"'s Avatar
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    It's not a problem unless say, you were to call your new memoir, Angela's Ashes.
    Or if you were to write a tragic romance novel and call it Titanic. You feel me?

  4. #4
    the philosophical pegasus Shadow Dragon's Avatar
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    Like others have said, it's been done before. However you should avoid it if you can. And like A for Agent said, definetely avoid using famous titles.
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." - Socrates

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    ...cool. Thanks everyone. The essay was on politics and my column is about sports so sounds like I'm safe. Makes sense with the examples you sited A Is For Agent. If I titled a memoir Angela's Ashes readers might confuse mine for it and enable me to profit through association, which definitely wouldn't be right.

  6. #6
    Hot bug on doll action! Use Her Name's Avatar
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    Titles are not copyrighted. I find it better to use titles that have not been used on prize winning or popular novels. I was writing a novel once that I called "Angle of Repose" only to find out that a novel of the same name had been published by Wallace Stegner. It was a massive book and the novel he loved the best out of his own work. I could not possibly use the title even though I legally could. Angle of Repose is a geologic/physics term and anyone could use it-- Stegner did the best job with it. Nor would I use "Life on the Mississippi," though I legally can. Like great sports hero's numbers, I think it is a common author's tribute to retire a title when someone has really nailed it.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    sounds like a good policy, Use Her Name.
    Thanks for the very useful info.

  8. #8
    The late, the great XThe NavigatorX mdin's Avatar
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    Does that mean I shouldn't name my book Harry Potter and the Raiders of the Lost Ark?

    My Art

  9. #9
    Brony level >9000 Nivarion's Avatar
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    well let me put it like this, names and titles are so uncopyrighted that i could start writing a book called "Gone with the Wind" and use the pen name Margret Michell, and as long as it isn't a novel about a love story in old south, i would be fine.

    but for now, im off to the tech section, something is very wrong with my browser...
    Hey, I'm back after, like, months! Almost a year even!

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