View Full Version : Legal Question - Authorization

Jimmy Svensson
09-24-2005, 09:30 PM
I know little about legal subject matters, and am seeking advice on what an author is allowed to do without getting a lawsuit thicker than the book in question.

Can I, without authorization, write a book that quotes an established fictional character, say "The sayings of Tony Soprano" or the like? My gut feeling tells me no, but then I find books like "Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter" and "The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons". The former of the two claims to be unofficial - is it possible to use the name Harry Potter on the front cover without authorization? The latter of the two books seems to be a quite extensive encyclopedia of cartoons - could the authors have gotten permission from all of the license holders?

I am aware of the fact that laws differ from country to country, but any help is much appreciated.

09-25-2005, 08:11 AM
It depends. Really.

There are more variables than one can shake a stick at. As a counterexample, an unauthorized guide to the Seinfeld TV series was found to infringe on the copyrights and trademarks. There is no valid answer to your question in a general sense; it is very fact-specific, especially considering where a suit might be heard.

Jimmy Svensson
09-25-2005, 12:51 PM
I see. So the only thing the author can really do is to write the book and then see if any publisher is bold enough to print it. Unless you happen to be in the situation where you can sell books on proposal, I guess.

Well, I think I got my question answered to the extent possible, so I wish to extend my gratitude - thanks!

09-29-2005, 10:25 PM
What about for other thigns that are real? For example in my travel book, I have some unflattering things to say about specific stores/shops/hotels.. I've been trying to skirt the issue by saying "large chain hotel" and "stopped at a local coffeeshop"..but it makes it sound so much more generic, like you could change the name fo the town and it would still work the same..


09-29-2005, 11:12 PM
That's a whole different story. I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that for the Large Chain Hotel to sue you and win, they would have to prove that you made false claims that hurt their reputation.