Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Using Real Names of Things...

Yes, I'm limiting my time here. Yes, really. It's just that something I've been wondering about showed up on a billboard in Blogville today. I was just running my quick errands, (scanning the agent blogs) when I came across this title: Product Placement in Books posted by Bookends, LLC.

I have mentioned specific products in my MS: his car, her Frappucino (hmm... wonder where THAT came from?) I never question the use of these things. I assumed that since no one was harmed because the car had a severe manufacturer's defect, or because she never accused Starbucks of product tainting, that I didn't have a problem. After reading this post, I'll assume for now that I'm right.

The thing that had me wondering was names of specific places. My WIP is set in several cities; some I'm familiar with, some not. My BF is a source for some places in NY where my character lives in the present time. In her visit to her hometown area, she reflects comparatively on her neighborhood hangout vs. the restaurant/bar where she is dining with her sister. My BF once asked if I was allowed to use those names. I replied, of course! Why not? Hmm.... Maybe I should have really thought about the question.

It's still a question. The linked post did not address this specific issue. I did, however, leave a comment with my question. Hopefully the author of the post or another commenter will address this issue for me.

FYI... for any newbies out there that just happened to stumble along here: When you leave a comment, (in most cases) there is a box to check to have follow-up comments sent to you via e-mail. I do this when I want to see what others think about a particular topic, or post a question that I hope to see answered.

If you're a literary attorney, or just happen to know the legality of all this, please post a comment for others to read and learn from.

7 comments:

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I'm checking follow-up. Till now I've been using fictional names for people and places, but wondered if I could use a specific town.

Tatiana Lensky said...

of course you can use the proper names of towns and cities. Its public domain as are certain titles of music compositions and works of literature.

Regarding brand names: it depends. But to be honest,thats something the legal department of your publisher and/or your agent should be taking care of. You shouldn´t be worrying about that. Unless you are writing a book about the malpractices of Nike or Starbucks, using the term "frappucino" is not a problem.

Tatiana Lensky said...

http://digitalmedialaw.blogspot.com/

this is a blog on.....yes.....digitalmedialaw.
He may be able to offer additional advice.

Stephanie Faris said...

I wonder about these things too. Often I'll bring up brand names. I know when chick lit was huge, brand names were an essential part of the storyline. To my knowledge, authors didn't get kickbacks for that...it just added something to the story. As for setting it in real towns, sometimes I'll use a fictional town if the town is a HUGE part of the story and I want to be able to take liberties...

SquirrelQueen said...

I do know large corporations pay big bucks for product placement in movies and tv shows and also I imagine in books (probably have to hit the best seller list first before they come knocking).

As Tatiana said, this isn't something to worry about right now. Use the names and let the legal department sort it out before publishing. For some things they might need to get permission but that's their job.

Terri Tiffany said...

I have used names of towns that are real and I think you can. But will be interested in your information.

Lazy Writer said...

You will definitely have to let me know what you find out. I did read somewhere that if you mention a song or a movie, you have to pay rights for using it. But I'd never thought about place names. A big part of my ms is a Mustang. I wonder about that, too. You should do another post when you get a response from your question.