Can you get sued over book titles?

Like if I write a book called Scary Sally’s Goose Bumps

Or Prairie’s Sherlock and Holmes 

Or Denver’s Casablanca

Could the authors of Goosebumps or Sherlock Holmes or Casablanca sue me? 

My friend told me you can’t copyright extremely common words and phrases like “What” or “Free” or “That.” So I think I’m safe but not sure. 

My book title uses the exact words in somebody else’s book title but I added my own words in it too. 

2 Answers

  • 1 month ago
    Favorite Answer

    Actually you can not copyright a book title.  they could not stop you from publishing a book called "Gone with the Wind" or "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

    You can use Sherlock Holmes as Doyle who wrote the books released his copyright on them before his death.  Holmes and anything related to the original stories is now public domain and anyone can use them. You could not use any characters created by later authors whoused the Holmes character.Casablancs is the name of a city so they can not stop you from using it.  However they can stop you from using any characters who appear in the original movie.  "Goosebumps" is a trademark, so you would not be able to use.  While they can not copyright the words, they can create a "trademark" using them.  Which they have done.

  • 1 month ago

    Yes.... Titles are not "extremely common words," they are equivalent to brand names like "Apple," "Google" and "Budweiser." If the owner of that brand believes that you are using their brand image/reputation to draw attention to your work, you can certainly be sued for infringement.

    Copyright and trademark law allows a certain bit of room for adaptation if the use is in the creation of a unique new work, but the owner can argue that you are using their names strictly to use their image/reputation to bring attention to your work, they can and likely will issue you a "cease and desist" warning. If that is ignored, a lawsuit is the next step.

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