Is it okay to use someone else's characters in your own book?
Is it plagiarism if I want to write a book and decide to use characters from another person's stories? Is it plagiarism if I do not ask or inform the person?
I would think so. I think it would be asking for problems if you didn't get something in writing stating the permissive use of other writer's characters. I would feel "robbed" if that happened to me.
If the characters are historical figures whose characteristics are familiar, then yes. Use them by all means, they're 'common property'.
Otherwise it's definitely 'hands off'! I wouldn't thank you for nicking mine, and nor would anyone else tolerate it. (Besides which they're usually covered by copyright law). You could find yourself in hot water using characters created by famous authors alive or dead (their interests are usually represented by lawyers and family).
Literary characters are usually arrived at with some thought, not just conjured up, so we should give their creators the benefit of protection as fellow writers.
I'd have to add that you could mention characters such as Long John Silver and Sherlock Holmes in passing. as they've passed into 'national lore' (almost common property) even bring them into a story, 'talk to them', but coin your own title and plot
Yep, that author has worked hard to develop those characters, they are not there for someone else to use, the author deserves, and will get, the full protection of the law. The only way you will get away with it is if they are historical characters, they are in the public domain, don't use another's words to describe them; or if the book is out of copyright; however, it is a poor author who can't create his own characters.
To take the ENTIRE character, name, personality, NO!!
But as I've said in some of my other works, EVERYTHING we do and say is a copy of something someone else said somewhere.
So I would say if you love something about a particular character, focus on that and build the rest of the character around it.
If the author, or the copywrite, is still alive then do not take the character. It's a disservice to that writer, and you as well. If the story in question is public domain, like Sherlock Holmes, then you can technically use the character as no one has ownership of it anymore. However, using famous public domain characters is also ill-advised because the market is over-saturated with them and your writing will be compared to a famous author. Unless you're a stellar writer, it may reduce your work to glorified fan fiction. I would suggest that you create a new character and just use the other as a basis. As the story progresses they will pull away from that source material enough that no one knows who you were emulating.
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