Am I Obligated to Use The Word Shapeshifter in My Blurb

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SamanthaDrake

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There are shapeshifters in my story, but they are more of a plot device. My story is about a girl with a troubled past who meets someone that makes her question everything she believes. Its about her journey to freedom from living in the shadow of fear and the power of love. It is not girl meets 'alpha-hole'. I want people to focus on the fact its a meaningful story but also have fun with the sex, violence, and humor of urban fantasy. Also, feel free to weigh in on whether or not I should use the word sith to for a spirit creature that is similar to a symbiont that shares the FMC's body. Disney has made the name theirs, but I don't think anyone is going to mistake my spirit symbiont with a sith lord. It's worth considering. But anyway, do I have to say shapeshifter?
 

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Of course not. I expect urban fantasy to come with vampires, weres, fae, witches, shapeshifters.

As far as 'sith,' if it's a legitimate Welsh or Scottish word I'd make it clear in the first instance.

Something like this, but it's really just to illustrate the framing I'd personally try to include--you do it as you feel best. I'd not worry about Disney and certainly not at this stage. Finish the book. You can always find/replace later.

She was a dragon-sith, the fabled creatures from Scottish lore, known centuries back before Scotland even existed. Dragon sith had had many names through the ages. Shifter, ghoul, daemon--but to me, she would aways be sith. Or, as she preferred it spelled, sythe.
 
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lizmonster

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The only thing I'll say about Disney is that a) they search for their stuff; and b) whether or not there's prior art around "sith" may not prevent them from suing you, and lawsuits are costly even if you win.

Odds are they won't focus on you at all, but it's something to consider.
 

SamanthaDrake

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Of course not. I expect urban fantasy to come with vampires, weres, fae, witches, shapeshifters.

As far as 'sith,' if it's a legitimate Welsh or Scottish word I'd make it clear in the first instance.

Something like this, but it's really just to illustrate the framing I'd personally try to include--you do it as you feel best. I'd not worry about Disney and certainly not at this stage. Finish the book. You can always find/replace later.

I like yours better. But what I say is 'They call us storytellers in our world but they have also called us chroniclers, and shamans. We are sith." She calls herself Jessica Irving sith Kiva. It's like a title. I didn't want to throw out the word dragon right away. I wanted that to be a surprise. I kind of thought if there was an explanation of their nature it wouldn't matter. I like how it works with the title. I could use the word sithe. I could make up a word. I am an avid reader and I seriously would not care if the story was good. I think that is the most important thing. If it was explained how they were different right away. Especially in the genre I am writing for. I could use the scottish reference but they are from another dimension. Is there a scotland over there? I pictured it as a very different place. I can always change it later.
 
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Don't use Sith; not only because Disney has exploited the word, but because it's a real word in Goidelic Celtic languages, one that refers to Celtic myth, and you're using it in a different way.

Come up with your own name. Note that in hundreds of languages there are names that people use to call themselves vs the names others use for them. In some cases, others names' are taken up by the locals, who keep their own names for themselves to themselves.

For instance, the Welsh are called Welsh; but Welsh is a Germanic word that is roughly akin to "foreigners" in meaning; it's what the Germanic speaking people called the people of Wales, who call themselve Cymry.
 

SamanthaDrake

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Don't use Sith; not only because Disney has exploited the word, but because it's a real word in Goidelic Celtic languages, one that refers to Celtic myth, and you're using it in a different way.

Come up with your own name. Note that in hundreds of languages there are names that people use to call themselves vs the names others use for them. In some cases, others names' are taken up by the locals, who keep their own names for themselves to themselves.

For instance, the Welsh are called Welsh; but Welsh is a Germanic word that is roughly akin to "foreigners" in meaning; it's what the Germanic speaking people called the people of Wales, who call themselve Cymry.

I see your point but I can't help but think how many people use the words like sylph, or dryad and put their own spin on it. Because sith is connected to Disney, it makes people uncomfortable. Even when Terry Goodkind did it in sword of truth. How many people reading my book are going to care? I just disagree with the assessment that it won't work.
 

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I see your point but I can't help but think how many people use the words like sylph, or dryad and put their own spin on it. Because sith is connected to Disney, it makes people uncomfortable. Even when Terry Goodkind did it in sword of truth. How many people reading my book are going to care? I just disagree with the assessment that it won't work.

Disney has attorneys on retainer. It doesn't cost them a dime to sue. So there's that.

But why not use a word that is yours, that means what YOU want it to mean, instead of wrenching an extant word out of its context?
 

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Disney has attorneys on retainer. It doesn't cost them a dime to sue. So there's that.

THIS is the point. It has nothing to do with your intent, or Terry Goodkind, or the origins of the word. Disney casts a wide net, and being right isn't going to save you money if they snag you in it.

Also, it really would bother me if as soon as people saw a word in my book they started thinking about Star Wars and not my story.
 

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THIS is the point. It has nothing to do with your intent, or Terry Goodkind, or the origins of the word. Disney casts a wide net, and being right isn't going to save you money if they snag you in it.

Also, it really would bother me if as soon as people saw a word in my book they started thinking about Star Wars and not my story.

To build on what lizmonster said here... Disney has to defend its trademarks if it wants to keep them, so yeah, you'd better believe its legal department goes after any infringement. Why chance that?
 

SamanthaDrake

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To build on what lizmonster said here... Disney has to defend its trademarks if it wants to keep them, so yeah, you'd better believe its legal department goes after any infringement. Why chance that?

Because I'm stubborn. Especially when I believe I know what I am talking about lol. I'm most likely going to change it because it would be so easy to do with a little thought but it's pretty far from having to worry about it now.
Thank you everyone for the discussion. It was fun! I think I am ready to cave beneath the opposition lol.
 
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-Riv-

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Because I'm stubborn. Especially when I believe I know what I am talking about lol.
If you want to chance the legal aspect, that's up to you. (It's not a hill I would die on, but that's me.) Also, this really only comes into play if you are self-publishing. A publishing house would most likely have you change it.

--

But why not use a word that is yours, that means what YOU want it to mean, instead of wrenching an extant word out of its context?

Also, it really would bother me if as soon as people saw a word in my book they started thinking about Star Wars and not my story.
THIS.
Apart from the (not inconsequential) potential legal issue, randomly evoking a strong Star Wars vibe when that's not your intention seems like it would be a distraction from rather than an enhancement to your story. I would ask myself why is it so important to use that specific word, especially since it's not directly related to the original meaning/s in any case?

All the best,
Riv
 

SamanthaDrake

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If you want to chance the legal aspect, that's up to you. (It's not a hill I would die on, but that's me.) Also, this really only comes into play if you are self-publishing. A publishing house would most likely have you change it.

--




THIS.
Apart from the (not inconsequential) potential legal issue, randomly evoking a strong Star Wars vibe when that's not your intention seems like it would be a distraction from rather than an enhancement to your story. I would ask myself why is it so important to use that specific word, especially since it's not directly related to the original meaning/s in any case?

All the best,
Riv

Yeah I said I would probably change it. It wouldn't be hard to do if i gave it a little thought. I am stubborn and I like to argue.
 

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Because I'm stubborn. Especially when I believe I know what I am talking about lol.

I’m glad you decided to not use “sith”, because there’s being right, and there’s having enough money to win in court or bleed your opponents dry even if you aren’t right. Disney might be the former, and they certainly are the latter. Don’t take chances with possible copyright violations. Disney is quite litigious, and has more money than you.
 

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I'm not sure why this belongs in Romance | Women's Fiction, but the discussion seems to over at this point.

If I'm wrong, and it's not over, I'll unlock and move the thread to SF & F, where urban fantasy lives.
 
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