View Full Version : Is it okay to use a title that someone else has already used?

11-15-2008, 01:01 PM
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?

11-15-2008, 02:14 PM
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.

"A" Is For "Agent"
11-15-2008, 03:41 PM
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?

Shadow Dragon
11-15-2008, 04:27 PM
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.

11-15-2008, 04:43 PM
...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.

11-15-2008, 07:07 PM
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.

11-15-2008, 07:48 PM
sounds like a good policy, Use Her Name.
Thanks for the very useful info.

11-15-2008, 09:41 PM
Does that mean I shouldn't name my book Harry Potter and the Raiders of the Lost Ark?

11-18-2008, 03:03 AM
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...