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I'm currently writing my first non-fiction book. In the book, I want to use examples from movies and tv shows to show how someone can grow. 

I was talking to a friend and he mentioned there may be an issue with trademark and/or copyright by using character names, plot lines, and movie/tv show names in the book. 

Anyone have any experience in this? 

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Replies to This Discussion

It isn't a problem to use titles or even brief quotes from books or movies. Longer quotes may require permission. Always, always attribute properly. Songs are another issue and may require more hassle than they're worth. You can use the title without issue, but quoting lyrics can get sticky b/c songs are so short. 

I do have a blog post from awhile back with a little more info. 

Happy writing!


Thank you so much for your answer. My plan was to use small quotes. Maybe a sentence or two along with a couple of plot points. Each quote/plot point would have the movie attributed to it. 

Think that will fly?


First, IANAL, so, this is only educational information from a fellow author.

For copyright concerns, the kind of references you will be making are called, "Fair Use." and fall under the Fair Use Doctrine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use).

For trademark concerns, it's important to understand that trademarks are intended to prevent you from using somebody else's brand to make money (e.g. trying to look like that entity, pretending to be an affiliate of that entity, or pretending to actually be that entity). Trademarks can be referenced in a work so long as you explicitly call out that the trademark is owned and by who. I'm assuming you won't be pretending to be, work for, or represent those trademarks. So, you are safe.

And, of course, these questions are best answered by a lawyer whom you have paid so that you are protected. Knowing what I've listed above just arms you with the right vocabulary when you talk to a lawyer.


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