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Writing Books/Writing a book/copyright infringement


Hello and thank you for taking my question. I am writing a fictional story taking place in this time period and so far I have referenced a few names and places that are real, but I am starting to worry I shouldn't. For instance, I make a quick reference to Johnny Cash, another regarding Frank Sinatra with a few lyrics to one of his songs. I also will be writing about Las Vegas and a specific hotel there, plus a wedding at one of the hotels. Am I allowed to mention a name like Caesar's Palace, or a restaurant that exists there---I would only be saying favorable things, but does everything fall under the line of copyright infringement and I cannot? If I wish to reference a hotel, do I need to make up a name of one? Am I allowed to mention famous names, if they are favorable? Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Hi Michele,
This is a great question! You should not hesitate to name well known people and places. I would go further and say it is important in order to give the reader a feeling of veracity. In all of my 14 novels I have used real places and referenced real people. The reader then relaxes and when you take them deep into fiction, they follow because they believe you!

One point, if you quote actual lyrics from songs you will need (or your editor) to get permission to quote lyrics. It is not usually a problem and I have always received permission without paying a fee.

Best of luck with your novel!



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Sandy McCutcheon


Author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a memoir and children's fiction.I can work with people on the process of writing, what to expect and ask for from an editor. How to work with the publisher`s marketing and publicity people. And how to survive book launches and publicity tours!


Published author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a young adult and three non-fiction titles. Visit his Moroccan blog at for a look at his blogging work.

St Andrews, Helsinki University and other institutions. Adult Educator of the Year Award, Australia

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