Sunday, June 29, 2014

And The Rejection Continues

I posted two weeks ago about being rejected for name usage by a company I'd contacted.  There is some debate about whether or not you can use a company's name or product without permission.  Some areas - sports logos, song lyrics, novel passages - are unambiguous, and you should only use such names in your work after you obtain explicit permission.  Some products - certain brand names for food, cars, restaurants - are open to a bit more gray area.  You can say your character is drinking a Coca-Cola, for example, as long as you don't use that as a generic(in the South, every soda is called a coke, as lame as that sounds, and it would be wrong in this example).  The basic rule of thumb is that you shouldn't use the product in a negative light.

The problem is difference over what constitutes negative.  Two more companies have denied me permission to use their product name in my novel Akeldama.  I didn't disparage the brand name in my work, but the context of the usage - in one instance, it was when the main character was being tortured and gave a phony job to spit in his captors' faces - was enough to make the company skittish.  Another saw the mere presence of violence as negative, as if a real vampire attack might happen at their business and such publicity would drive people away.

Of course, this is their right.  Out of an extreme of caution, I will always change a name that might be in conflict in my work.  For me, it's better to use a generic or another name rather than risk a lawsuit.  Fortunately, none of the brand names I've used in my work are instrumental to the plot and can easily be changed.  The reason I like to use specific products is that I feel they add a sense of familiarity and realism to the piece.  Readers can relate to a character powering a home with a Honda Generator or eating a Big Mac.  This makes them part of the same world, and so the suspension of disbelief is easier.  None of that means the book doesn't work if I talk about an SUV rather than a specific brand.

I'm continuing to contact companies for permission, and I'm grateful for the permission I have so far from some.  Beretta has already granted me permission to use their name under the condition that "bad guys don't use Berettas."  This isn't an issue, for only the good guys use guns in Akeldama(the bad guys are vampires, and thus have other means at their disposal when they want to use force).  Beretta was only an initial brief mention in Akeldama, but the other firearm company I contacted has yet to grant me full permission, so I think I'll probably give Beretta the benefit of free advertising, even though I originally wanted another product.

This asking stuff can be challenging, and I hate rejection, but it makes everything seem more real.  That may be the biggest benefit I'm getting from this.

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