copyright infringement

Question: If I mention a popular, or even outdated character, movie, piece of music, or anything like that in a novel I'm writing, is it important to mention somewhere that copyright belongs to "insert name here" company? Do I need to ask the company ahead of time if it's ok to mention the copyrighted material in my novel? Or is all of this irrelevant, and novels have some sort of weird loophole of an excuse when it comes this?

Answer: First, my usual disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is just my understanding from what I have read on the subject.

Simply mentioning the title of another work is not a problem. It's only a problem if you are passing off someone else's work as yours or reproducing a large piece of their work in your book. You can mention the title of a song, but don't quote lyrics.

Similarly, you can mention a famous character, just don't make him or her a character in your book unless that character is in public domain.

For instance, you can write a story about Robin Hood, but not Harry Potter (apart from fan fiction, which most copyright holders turn a blind eye to as long as you don't sell to it a publisher or the public).

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