Writing Books/Titles


Hi Bobbie,

I wondered if titles are copyrightable if you alter them.  For example, if I wrote a book called "85 Shades of Grey" from the "50 Shades of Grey" trilogy, or "The Secrets" from the book "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne, or "The Hungry Games" from the author of "The Hunger Games, or "Lessons: Awaken the Powers Within" from "Awaken the Giant Within" book by Tony Robbins?

Would any of these titles pose a problem?

Thank you so very much

First of all, I'm not an attorney, but as I understand the law, titles cannot be  copyrighted, although they can be registered as trademarks. It is my understanding that only the copy (content) of a manuscript can be copyrighted, not the title. That said, however, anyone can file a lawsuit for almost any reason, and if you use titles that authors believe infringe on their work, they can file lawsuits in civil court. You must then defend yourself, which means you will have to hire and pay for an attorney and court costs, etc., even if your opponent loses and you are allowed to use the title you chose. In other words, it's not worth the risk, whether it's legal or not, to choose titles that intentionally are close to original, well-known titles. Instead it is wisest to be original and create your own titles that get well-known on their own merits.

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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