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Writing Books/using old company material


I am in the process of researching a book on Fisher-Price Toys. My deceased father worked there and has many work related photos, documents, prototypes and information from the 60's, 70's and 80's. Who owns this material? Is it permissible to use this without permission of the company, which is now owned by Mattel? Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated; thank you.

Thanks for your inquiry, Eric.

You must get permission from the copyright owner of the photos, documents, prototypes and information to use them in your book. Contact Mattel's public information officer to learn the company's process for giving permission. The process may be to email the officer photocopies, pictures, and scans of your materials, or bring them to the officer's workplace. The officer may require photo credits for each, such as: Photo courtesy Mattel. Used by permission. Sometimes a credit on the copyright page is sufficient, such as: Photo credit, pages 7, 19, 35, 107, and 291, Mattel. Used by permission.

Be selective in what you wish to use, rather than overwhelming the officer with everything.

You may wish to consult an attorney on whether any of your materials fall under the fair use definition by the U.S. Copyright office. See Fair use without infringing on copyright is not always clear. Even if you learn your materials qualify under fair use provisions, as a courtesy you should credit photos when you know the owner. If you do not know the owner, it is appropriate to state: Contributed photo. However, Contributed photo or Photo courtesy Mattel will not relieve you of copyright infringement if such infringement exists.

Best wishes for a successful project.

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Wayne Groner


I can answer questions on all aspects of writing memoirs, biographies, family histories, and corporate histories including handling sensitive issues, interviewing, editing, self-publishing, and setting up a business as a memoir writer.


I have more than twenty-five years of experience as a radio and television news reporter, author, freelance writer, and workshop presenter. I present classes to nonprofits and professional groups, "How to Write Your Memoir or Life Story." I'm author of four nonfiction books. My latest book is A Guide to Writing Your Memoir or Life Story: Tools, Tips, Methods and Examples, available in paperback and eBook at Amazon. I'm past president of Springfield Writers' Guild (Missouri). My articles and book reviews on a variety of topics have been published in national magazines and on the Web. I was a senior-level college administrator for twenty-seven years, including nine years as a vice president, during which I wrote newsletters, brochures, magazine articles, and published and edited an alumni magazine.

Missouri Center for the Book, Springfield Writers' Guild, Greene County Historical Society, Christian County Historical Society.

Books: Witnesses of Hope, Faith, Love and Healing; Dumb Luck or Divine Guidance; The Pastor's Guide to Fund-raising Success; Levell-Drew Family History. National magazines including CASE Currents, Congregations, Ozarks Mountaineer, Your Community Hospice, Power and Light series of Sunday-school curriculum for adult learners.

Graceland College

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