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May 10, 2021
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May 12, 2021

What can you legally put in your book?

It should always be at the top of an Authors mind to check whether something they are stating in a book can legally be written there.


A good place to start is to understand what is copywritten and what isn’t.

As a rule of thumb these normally have copyrights attached to them: 

  • Literary (whether in written, printed, or digital), 
  • musical and artistic works, 
  • cinematograph films, 
  • sound recordings, 
  • broadcasts, 
  • programme-carrying signals, 
  • computer programmes and published editions

There are some common elements that Authors use in books and are always asking on social media if they have copyrights attached to them. So let’s explore these:

City / Town names:

You can use real names of towns and cities even if you are fictionalising parts of it, like a road name, or business name. Most fiction authors will set a book in a well know country or city but then make a fictitious suburb or town within it. This is allowed.


Quotes of any kind, whether its lyrics to a song or a quote of a famous person should be avoided unless you are giving them credit for what they said and its clearly stated in the contents of your writing. If the quote is significant, (or if it’s a lyric) then rather get permission from the author. One common mistake made by Christian authors is that they believe they can freely quote the bible. This isn’t the case, even the bible is copywritten and needs permission from the publisher to quote.

Brand names:

It’s okay to use a well know brand name, like Nike or Levi, however, ensure that you speak well of the brand and do not put it in disrepute. To be safe, rather invent your own.

Celebrity names:

Even though featuring a celebrity in your book might be okay, only do it if you are casting them in a favourable light. To be completely safe, its best to create a name to sound similar to the original or to create a new celebrity in your book all together.