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Writing Books/Copyright considerations


I have a couple of potentially stupid questions...(forgive me if this is the case).  I am wondering if it is generally permissible to have a character in a novel make reference to a specific musical group and/or specific song (no lyrics, just the name of band or song) for the purpose of establishing a scene setting.  Also, would product brand names (such as a specific make and model of automobile) be safe to mention without having to worry about copyright violations?  Thanks.

Hi Jed,

No, it's not a stupid question- it's a responsible one for a writer.

When it comes to a song title, a band name or vocalist, a make of car, it is permissible.

My own novel has a character that drives an old '76 Dodge Charger that is a piece of junk, and he listens to Ozzie's "Mama, I'm Coming Home."

As long as it's in reference to characterization and scene, it is permissible and as long as it's not specifically derogatory, inflammatory, it's fine.

(side note: it would be unreasonable and unlikely for all authors to write about fictitious cars that we "make up" and songs and vocalist/bands that don't really exist: it wouldn't be for good reading, would it? What reader could understand, let alone, identify or know what to "imagine"?)  

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Jannie Balliett


I am a published writer, Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing, specializing in novel writing, and creative writing. I can answer most any question concerning writing a book, plot and characterization, tighten the prose, and the editing process, and help advise with publishing and the requirements of obtaining a literary agent.


I'm a published writer, freelancer, and Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing for my two Online writer workshops.

Sisters In Crime Internet Chapter, The Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Brazos Writers Group.

Writers Post Journal magazine, May 2006 issue, Augusr 2006 issue, Nov/December 2006 issue and soon in 2008, On A Whim, flash fiction anthology, offered in Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.

Some college, creative writing, fiction writing

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