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Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of net?? : General Questions & Discussions • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of net??

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Breezybealle
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Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of net??

Postby Breezybealle » Sun May 26, 2013 8:36 pm

I was wondering how to determine whether something you find on the internet is publishable or not. For example, I am in a forum that someone has posted a writing prompt that I find appealing. Within the forum guidelines, it specifically states that it is "public domain" and that all ideas/info/etc... written in that particular forum are up for grabs to be used in any way, shape or form by anyone for anything. If I were to publish a book and wanted to use a specific writing prompt or two, how do I discern whether I have the right to do so without breaking any rules?Do I even need to credit anyone? Do I need to credit the website itself? The author of the forum thread? Or can neither be done even though it states that that particular thread is free to use?

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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby shadowwalker » Mon May 27, 2013 7:32 am

Not a lawyer, but these are prompts. It's like saying you can't use an idea because someone else thought of it. Prompts, ideas, themes - those are meaningless. It's what you do with them.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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Breezybealle
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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby Breezybealle » Mon May 27, 2013 9:02 am

but what if it is the prompt itself; As if someone were to make a collection of prompts from all over? Or if it was a little bit longer than one line. Some of the stuff I've found are full paragraphs up to entire background stories (still offered as public domain)

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shadowwalker
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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby shadowwalker » Mon May 27, 2013 12:16 pm

Length doesn't matter. Seriously. If it's only a prompt, an idea, a suggestion, it doesn't matter if it's one sentence or ten pages - as long as it's not a full fledged story, and especially when it's put up on a public forum, take it and run with it.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby mfarraday » Mon May 27, 2013 1:17 pm

You can't copyright an idea or prompt and then tell someone they can't write a whole story off of it. You might put a whole book of prompts together and make a book that you can sell, but anyone who writes a story based on them, well, the story belongs to the author.

I wrote a story based on a prompt I saw last year; I sold the story, and the copyright of the story belongs to me. I did not credit the person who wrote the prompt. It was a historical account of what a certain type of criminal did in the 19th century. Since it was telling about a piece of history, nobody could really tell me what I could/couldn't do with it.

Even if it hadn't been a historical account, however, and had only been another type of prompt I liked, I still would've used it, if I wanted, and not credited anyone. Especially if I did all the work of putting the story together.

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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby Breezybealle » Mon May 27, 2013 8:02 pm

Thank you, that actually take a load off my mind. It saves me from the labor of having to track down each individual and asking for permission to publish. That would be exhausting! I have spent months and months on a personal search for certain things and having grown tired of scouring the internet for the same bland prompts, my idea is to create a book for people like me who have the ability to write, but definitely need more than just a "nudge" in the right direction. A lot of people scoff at the idea of using someone else's prompt, but I say if the idea is put out there and the person cannot or does not want to write the rest of the story themselves, then it's my duty as a writer to finish it for them, lol! No, seriously though, there are just so many ideas out there sitting around and as long as it took me to find the few that I did, I'd like to put some together in a format that could be used by anyone in my shoes. It's going to have a lot of my original ideas, too, as well as blank character sketches, plot diagrams, and a few other brainstorming materials to go with it. Basically, I'm putting together a book I wish I could have bought for myself without the hours of rigorous searching! I'm trying to get more feedback and ideas to put together, but my blog is so poorly viewed I can't really get it out there. I did however, hit a goldmine with a plethora of ideas, but that's the site I'm worried about. I'm worried that if I publish a chunk of ideas from the forum (even though it explicitly states "public domain", free to use, blah blah blah) that they will say I stole from their site. Which, I guess, in all honesty would be semi-true? I'd like to use a lot of what they offered up, but I don't want to be skeezy, either.

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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby pls » Mon May 27, 2013 8:17 pm

You can't steal something that's free, Breezybealle. At the worst someone might complain, but so what?

It might be nice to credit the sites you take prompts from, though, in an appendix or separate chapter or whatever - you'd be providing some free publicity for them in return for using their prompts.
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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby shadowwalker » Mon May 27, 2013 10:01 pm

Soooo - you're not taking one or more prompts and writing a story from them, but just gathering the prompts into a book? Why? All one has to do is Google "fiction prompts" or "story prompts" and you get thousands of results...
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby Breezybealle » Tue May 28, 2013 8:05 am

That's what I thought, too, but I'm looking for more detailed than "Remember a time you were angry. Now write about how you felt & why you felt that way"... Trust me, I've searched far and wide for specific prompts and it's very frustrating coming across page after page of the same type stuff. I want something that is ready to go, easy to use, and all in one place. I'm building a book that I would've bought myself if it had been available. Plus, that's not ALL it's going to have in it. It's going to be filled with numerous resources, too.

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Re: Publishing ideas that are claimed "free to use" off of n

Postby shadowwalker » Tue May 28, 2013 8:36 am

Okay. Just seems like there are more than enough ideas out there for writers to choose from without making up a book of them, but whatever floats your boat, I guess.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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