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Sid H.
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Fair Use Question
« on: Dec 6th, 2006, 4:45pm »
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Hi,
 
 I am writing a non-fiction book that I plan to self-publish and sell for a profit.  It is about business/economics and I had a question about whether it's OK to name a company by name.  
 
Without going into what the book is about, there a 4 or 5 companies I would like to mention by name and discuss their busniess model as examples for parts of my book.  Some of the information would simply be factual information about the nature of their business, but some of it would be opinions.  They would not be negative opinions really, but I could see how the companies could prefer not to be mentioned in the book if they had a choice.    
 
 
 
Anyway, my question is, if I don't slander or lie about the companies and don't imply that I am affiliated with them or endorsed by them, is it legal for me to mention them by name even if they prefer not to be in the book?  In other words, is it alright for me to make money off of a book that uses these companies as real world examples of companies employing a certian business model I am discussing in the book?  What if I did have a negative opinion about their busness model, but it was clearly an opinion, and I made an argument supporting it?  If my opinion damaged their business, would they have to prove that I gave false information about their business, or just that my opinion or argument led to the damage of their business (for instance, because it made others look at the company in a negative light)?
 
 
 
P.S. I understand that a self published book would probably not be noticed by the companies, but for sake of argument, assume they got hold of the book and prefered not to be in it, and that I was making money off of it.  
 
 
 
Thanks
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Isaac
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Re: Fair Use Question
« Reply #1 on: Dec 6th, 2006, 4:55pm »
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on Dec 6th, 2006, 4:45pm, Sid H. wrote:
Anyway, my question is, if I don't slander or lie about the companies and don't imply that I am affiliated with them or endorsed by them, is it legal for me to mention them by name even if they prefer not to be in the book?

 
In the US law if you do those things, and tell the truth, you should be on the right side of the law.  In other countries the burden of proving that the material in the book is false might be on you, or it might even be true that truth is not a complete defense.
 
And of course it might well be that reasonable parties might disagree about what's truth and what's slander.  Being right doesn't always prevent you from being sued.
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Isaac
Sid H.
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Re: Fair Use Question
« Reply #2 on: Dec 6th, 2006, 9:20pm »
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Thanks for the reply.  On another note, I was wondering if all of those Ebay for dummies and Windows for dummies (or the complet idiot's guide to so and so) books have to get permission from the companies.  In other words, those book are pretty factual and non-opinionated.  Can you write a book like that without permission?
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JSonnabend
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Re: Fair Use Question
« Reply #3 on: Dec 7th, 2006, 7:20am »
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While Isaac has approached his answer with an abundance of caution -- and following his advice would certainly minimize your risk -- I'm not sure his analysis is accurate.
 
If your book is clearly a work of fiction, I don't believe naming a company by name would have any substantive defamation implications.  That's not to say there isn't risk involved, i.e., risk that the company named might take umbrage with your remarks, but legally, they might not have a case.
 
If using real world company names in your book is important to you, you might consider having an attorney take an hour or two to investigate the issue in a bit more detail than either Isaac or I have done.
 
- Jeff
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SonnabendLaw
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Isaac
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Re: Fair Use Question
« Reply #4 on: Dec 7th, 2006, 7:38am »
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on Dec 7th, 2006, 7:20am, JSonnabend wrote:
If your book is clearly a work of fiction,

 
The OP said the book was non-fiction.
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Isaac
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