Moira here welcoming you back to another #SensualSunday. As Kacey mentioned yesterday it is bloody cold here in Canada right now, some parts more than others. To say I’m a fair weather individual is a serious understatement. I really do not like air that makes my face hurt!
But that isn’t what today’s post is about. Although I have much to say on the topic, it’s not really about writing is it? LOL! No, today I want to discuss the use of brand names, etc in writing. Or rather the fact you should avoid doing it.
Most publishers will not allow you to use brand names, names of songs, song lyrics, search engine names, etc in your stories. Now there are a few exceptions to this rule, but you still have to be very careful about how and when to use them. I think that authors with publishers are pretty lucky, the editors who work for them and with us keep us in line when something slips past us. They have house guidelines they follow to help ensure no author for that publisher gets in trouble for putting something into a story they shouldn’t have.
How you ask can you get in trouble for using a registered, trademarked, and copyrighted name? And there is your answer right there. It’s COPYRIGHTED. Again, there are a select few exceptions to this, and it’s mostly everyday items like iPods, Google, and such but even then – they need to be used sparingly and with care. Avoid naming songs, and using song lyrics wherever possible. You can easily do this by turning it into a reference. For example, if your story’s character is dancing around singing (I’ll stick with the season here) Drummer Boy, and pa-rum-pum-pum-pumming around the house, keep the reference to upbeat Christmas music. Maybe make reference to drumming along with it if you feel the need to be more specific. Songwriters are particularly gun-shy, with good reason, anyone remember Napster?
While the odds are low that anyone would decide to sue you for copyright infringement (the use of works protected by copyright law without permission) I’ve always felt it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Because I couldn’t afford to be sued by some big corporation, could you? Doubtful since they could quite literally keep things tied up in a courtroom, and thus any lawyer you hired, for years if they so felt the need. That is money draining from you on a constant basis. Money you could otherwise be using to pay your mortgage, fix that weird noise in your car, get a new dishwasher with, or buy something you’ve always wanted but had to wait for.
There’s one other matter you absolutely must consider, your brand. If you are sued what do you think that does to your brand, your good name, and your readers mindset toward you and your other works. So the best idea is, be careful, think it through, and if you are ever in doubt – ASK THE QUESTION. Whether it is to your publisher, to your fellow authors, or your lawyer, be proactive and be safer than sorry.
XO Moira Callahan