Author Topic: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch  (Read 580 times)

Ace Fletcher

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You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« on: October 09, 2018, 02:32:13 AM »
I'm writing a Christmas story *not* for children that features characters from some of the classic holiday stories.

The question is, can I call these characters by name? Or would it be better to just describe them in a way that makes it obvious who they are?

What if I didn't name Grinch outright, but describe him physically and say he's a 'bad banana' and 'charming as an eel'?  Or maybe that would be problematic because those are some of the lyrics to the song.

*runs off to search the other place for the thread topic that I didn't read regarding copyright and lyrics*
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Lex

Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2018, 04:38:50 AM »
If you don't have express permission, and if the characters aren't in the public domain, you'd be infringing. Probably on a copyright AND a trademark. All books published before 1923 are in the public domain. Snow White and Dracula, for example, are fair game. The Grinch is from 1957. Not public domain.

Using lyrics that are not in the public domain is also infringement.

My advice: I wouldn't put any character in your book that isn't in the public domain. Whether you call them by name or not, it doesn't matter.
 
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Ace Fletcher

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Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2018, 07:44:24 AM »
Thanks for the advice. 
While trying to describe my character without calling him a Grinch I got that song stuck in my head, and my description spiralled down into copyright infringement.

My story has reindeer too, just not the one with the red nose:)



I changed my password to 'incorrect'. That way when I forget, it always reminds me, "your password is incorrect".
 

cecilia_writer

Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2018, 01:40:17 PM »
I don't know if you've read anything by Terry Pratchett, but I think way he adapted some generic characters such as the Tooth Fairy in 'The Hogfather' might be a useful model.
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Ace Fletcher

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Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2018, 02:47:16 PM »
Thank you for the recommendation, cecelia_writer.   Holiday satire is what I'm aiming for and 'The Hogfather' will be perfect research reading.

I changed my password to 'incorrect'. That way when I forget, it always reminds me, "your password is incorrect".
 

guest390

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Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2018, 08:49:51 AM »
Yes. It's infringement, but....unless you're selling tens of thousands of copies, no one is likely to care. If they did, you might have to take it down. But that's about it. No one is going to take away your house and car or anything like that. I think about the worse case scenario would be you'd be forced to turn over your profits. But again, the odds on anyone giving a tinker's damn is remote.
 

Ace Fletcher

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Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2018, 01:51:35 PM »
Definitely food for thought. Thanks for chiming in, Brian.

I'm learning there's a fine line between satire and infringement.
I changed my password to 'incorrect'. That way when I forget, it always reminds me, "your password is incorrect".
 

She-la-te-da

Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2018, 08:12:08 PM »
Yes. It's infringement, but....unless you're selling tens of thousands of copies, no one is likely to care. If they did, you might have to take it down. But that's about it. No one is going to take away your house and car or anything like that. I think about the worse case scenario would be you'd be forced to turn over your profits. But again, the odds on anyone giving a tinker's damn is remote.

Yeah. Disney gives a tinker's damn. They've been known to send people to tiny craft fairs and stopping people from selling stuff made from Disney trademarked fabric. Like, don't make a potholder with Mickey Mouse fabric, or you'll get handed a nice little lawsuit.

And it's entirely possible to lose everything you have defending against a lawsuit. So, advice to not worry about being sued for trademark infringement (the Grinch likely is also trademarked, since there are secondary products on the market) is potentially dangerous to someone's livelihood and personal financial status.

About the only way one could get away with using something like the Grinch is to fall right into the parody lane, which might be hard to pull off. And even then, one would have to defend against a suit, which won't be cheap and could take years.
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notthatamanda

Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2018, 12:10:37 AM »
If you don't have express permission, and if the characters aren't in the public domain, you'd be infringing. Probably on a copyright AND a trademark. All books published before 1923 are in the public domain. Snow White and Dracula, for example, are fair game. The Grinch is from 1957. Not public domain.

Using lyrics that are not in the public domain is also infringement.

My advice: I wouldn't put any character in your book that isn't in the public domain. Whether you call them by name or not, it doesn't matter.

Scrooge should be okay then.
 

Maggie Ann

Re: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2018, 12:38:36 AM »
Yes. It's infringement, but....unless you're selling tens of thousands of copies, no one is likely to care. If they did, you might have to take it down. But that's about it. No one is going to take away your house and car or anything like that. I think about the worse case scenario would be you'd be forced to turn over your profits. But again, the odds on anyone giving a tinker's damn is remote.

Yeah. Disney gives a tinker's damn. They've been known to send people to tiny craft fairs and stopping people from selling stuff made from Disney trademarked fabric. Like, don't make a potholder with Mickey Mouse fabric, or you'll get handed a nice little lawsuit.

And it's entirely possible to lose everything you have defending against a lawsuit. So, advice to not worry about being sued for trademark infringement (the Grinch likely is also trademarked, since there are secondary products on the market) is potentially dangerous to someone's livelihood and personal financial status.

About the only way one could get away with using something like the Grinch is to fall right into the parody lane, which might be hard to pull off. And even then, one would have to defend against a suit, which won't be cheap and could take years.

So true about Disney. An independent day care located in a small city of only 25K people, painted a couple of Disney characters on their exterior walls. Oh, yes, Disney went after them.