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FallenAngel
05-22-2010, 03:43 AM
http://www.publaw.com/titles.html


Copyright Law Protection
While the copyright law will generally protect the contents of a book, the title of that particular book will not be protected. The purpose of the copyright law is to protect the author's creative expression. Although nothing in the Copyright Act specifically precludes protection for titles, Copyright Office Regulations and judicial decisions have made it clear that titles are only the equivalent of short slogans and therefore a title does not contain sufficient expression to be worthy of copyright protection. At least one reason that courts are hesitant to grant titles copyright protection is because they fear that by doing so they will prevent the title's use by others for whom that particular title may be equally appropriate.



Im curious. If this is true. Let's say for example there's a video game "Final fantasy"

And there's an author of a book that wants to entitle his book "The Final fantasy" But it has nothing to do with the game at all. Would he be able to do it?

For all anyone knows. The author is writing about a love story, perhaps the final wish of a dying girl. (A walk to remember could be set as an example).

Xvee
05-22-2010, 04:00 AM
James Cameron successfully sued another movie from using the name Avatar. The other movie is based on a cartoon called Avatar: The Last Air Bender. Now it'll be released as The Last Air Bender.

There's a book call The Robber Bride by Margret Atwood. Another writer wrote a short story also called The Robber Bride and I asked her if there are legal issues and she said no. The short is published and she didn't get sued.

Ryan_Sullivan
05-22-2010, 04:00 AM
Yes. However, publishers and authors would likely be reluctant to ever publish something that has a similar title that's famous.

bonitakale
05-22-2010, 05:04 AM
Games and movies have their own arcane ways of doing things, involving trademarks and stuff. But you can title a book or story pretty much anything you wish-- Listening to Prozac (which uses a trade name), say, or Shades of Gray (a lot of books are called Shades of Gray). You can use a quote, like Gone with the Wind, or Absalom, Absalom. I suspect you could call one I Hate Pringles with no problem.

However, of course, the publisher isn't likely to allow you to call your book by the name of a current bestseller, like Dead in the Family (which, of course, is a play on another book, A Death in the Family.)

Medievalist
05-22-2010, 09:48 AM
I don't have time or desire to explain this--

Google Copyright, and Google Trademark

These suits are based on trademark laws, not on copyright.

blacbird
05-22-2010, 10:08 AM
To clarify what Medievalist just said, Copyright and Trademark are two entirely different animals, legally. Alas, they are often confused in comments made here.

caw

kaitie
05-22-2010, 01:02 PM
I also highly doubt a publisher would publish a book with the same name as something very famous like Final Fantasy. I'd also say I'd be very cautious about it in general because of biases. If you're talking about something relatively unknown that's one thing, but if you're talking something hugely popular, it's a bad idea not just from the legal standpoint.

Now, this might just be me, but personally, if I was an agent (or publisher) and saw that you gave the work the same title I would either assume you were a) clueless or b) purposely trying to rip off the title, and nothing about that second option is a positive.

I actually hit Amazon when I'm thinking of titles and see what else pops up to make sure I don't end up with something that's already held by a lot of other books (or movies I might not have heard of because I've lived in another country for the past four years).

Jamesaritchie
05-22-2010, 09:47 PM
The Copyright Act isn't everything in the law, and you've never, ever been allowed to claim copyright protection for a title.

What copyright does and does not protect is pretty clear, and always has been, courts aside.

What difference does it make? Trademark generally covers whatever copyright misses.

Just because a word, phrase, name, etc., is trademarked does not mean you can't use it, you just can't use it in a way that's similar to the way the trademark holder uses it. You can't cause confusion between your business and his. If those who see your usewould have reasion to think you and the trademark holder are in some way connected, you're in trouble.

This usually is something for the courts to decide. It's generally best not to test the courts.

slcboston
05-22-2010, 10:08 PM
Titles can't be copyrighted for another reason as well, and one that makes common sense once you think about it.

Look at something like "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (which is a great book, btw) where the title comes from a phrase in common usage. If you could copyright this, then every time someone used the phrase in print, they'd have to clear it with the Hemingway estate. I can't imagine the nightmare that would ensue from that.

That being said, you don't want to share a title with something famous, for reasons stated above. Calling a book "Romeo and Juliet," even if it's about hamsters, is going to raise certain expectations.

Jamesaritchie
05-23-2010, 12:14 AM
That being said, you don't want to share a title with something famous, for reasons stated above. Calling a book "Romeo and Juliet," even if it's about hamsters, is going to raise certain expectations.

True, but you can twist it. I can't remember who wrote it, but I thought the title Rome-0 and Julie-8 was rather clever.

blacbird
05-23-2010, 01:15 AM
Titles can't be copyrighted for another reason as well, and one that makes common sense once you think about it.

Look at something like "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (which is a great book, btw) where the title comes from a phrase in common usage.

Which Hemingway took from a poem, long in public domain, by John Donne.

caw