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Camy

What I Did on my Summer Vacation by Cole Parker

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Another great story from Cole Parker!

'What I Did on my Summer Vacation' is potentially as good as any of Charlie Higson's 'Young James Bond' stories, or the similar Alex Rider stories by Anthony Horowitz. Perhaps we'll hear more from Simon Bellow and I-Can. I certainly hope so!

Nice one, Cole. I loved it.

Camy

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Ah, read the story and thought it was very entertaining.

I was reminded of the movie from a couple of years ago, Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, starring teen heartthrob Alex Pettyfur. This kid is a total knockout, and it's a similar idea -- young 14-year-old kid gets secret training, doesn't quite know what it's for, and eventually gets drafted into becoming a spy. The novels were huge best-sellers, though the movie was a bomb -- not quite a comedy, not quite a drama, and too serious to be a spoof, but stopping short of actual murders and serious violence. Weird mix.

Cole at least brings in a romantic element and makes it a lot more deadly, which helped the story a lot, and I enjoyed it more than the movie (while still imagining Alex Pettyfur as Simon). I agree, somebody should change the displayed title so we can find the damned thing on the main page.

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I was reminded of the movie from a couple of years ago, Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, starring teen heartthrob Alex Pettyfur. This kid is a total knockout, and it's a similar idea -- young 14-year-old kid gets secret training, doesn't quite know what it's for, and eventually gets drafted into becoming a spy.

That movie reminds me of another movie "Little Nikita" (neither of which really remind me of Cole's story)

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Damn, here I was trying to write something original, not something that reminded people of something else!

Not that I mind, really. If anything I do compares favorably with published or filmed stories, that's pretty cool!

I write for a reason no one seems to talk about much. I write because it's fun. I try to do something different every time I write a story. This was my first time to write something that was much, much more plot driven that character driven. It was fun doing that, very enjoyable.

I guess doing different things each time means I don't fall into a rut.

So, I'm unlike Des, trying not to be in rut all the time. :icon_geek:

C

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Damn, here I was trying to write something original, not something that reminded people of something else!

No criticism intended. A lot of great story ideas have already been taken, especially in horror, science fiction, and spy thrillers. Hell, I've been scrambling for several years now with my current novel, just to avoid all the good time-travel ideas already used by Back to the Future!

There have been several major best-selling novels about young teenage spies, not the least of which was four novels in the Young James Bond series and seven novels in the Alex Rider series. At least you had the balls to have the kid actually kill people, which most of the others have stopped short of doing.

Go watch that Alex Rider film. Here's a photo of the film's star, Alex Pettyfer.

post-15-1221538904_thumb.jpg

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No criticism intended. A lot of great story ideas have already been taken, especially in horror, science fiction, and spy thrillers. Hell, I've been scrambling for several years now with my current novel, just to avoid all the good time-travel ideas already used by Back to the Future!

There have been several major best-selling novels about young teenage spies, not the least of which was four novels in the Young James Bond series and seven novels in the Alex Rider series. At least you had the balls to have the kid actually kill people, which most of the others have stopped short of doing.

Go watch that Alex Rider film. I'd attach a file to give you an idea of what the actor looks like, but the board software doesn't seem to work at the moment.

I haven't seen any movies in this genre, or read any books, so this was virgin territory for me.

No, I didn't take that as criticism, and the complaint was tongue-in-cheek and more directed at myself than anyone else for not being able to write something unique.

It's surprising, when you get engaged in something like this, how many loopholes you have to consider, how much time needs to be spent on making details authentic, on the fine edge you walk between making it comical farce on the one hand and over the top violent on the other. As with any writing I've done, writing this was educational.

Nothing teaches you more about writing than actual writing.

C

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I tell you, what really drives me crazy is coming up with a unique title. It's incredible, the number of titles that have already been used for music albums, movies, TV shows, and novels.

Seems like all the really good ones have been taken...

I cheated with my three novel titles so far. "Groovy Kind of Love" was, of course, a memorable 1960s hit (later covered by Phil Collins in the 1980s); "Jagged Angel" was inspired after I worked on the movie Jagged Edge; and I wanted to call my time-travel novel "Pieces of Fate," but the great fantasy writer Harlan Ellison already used that for an old Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode in the mid-1960s. So I had to settle for "Pieces of Destiny" instead.

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Gee Pecman, I wouldn't let previous use stop me from calling a story by name that was used by something like a TV series, even though I did enjoy the man from U.N.C.L.E.

In fact, same or similar titles are often used for very different types of stories and unless you know something about the man from U.N.C.L.E. that would make hm suitable to be in a gay romantic story, I would have used Pieces of Fate. I seriously doubt that many people would have remembered the TV episode title, oer even cared if they had.

But I understand the desire to have an original title. Sometimes it is best just to have the right title even if it has been used before.

(I believe titles are not subject to copyright restrictions unless they form part of a patent or trademark.)

:icon_geek:

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Gee Pecman, I wouldn't let previous use stop me from calling a story by name that was used by something like a TV series, even though I did enjoy the man from U.N.C.L.E.

It's a creative and moral issue for me. I'd rather come up with a title that's unique and different from anything anybody else has done before.

I believe titles are not subject to copyright restrictions unless they form part of a patent or trademark.

Speaking as somebody who owns a couple of trademarks, I agree. The trick there is, you can't sue somebody who uses your trademark unless it's in your specifically-marketed area. For example, one of my trademarks was for a magazine title; the second was for a piece of computer software. A Taiwanese electronics company stole our magazine name and tried to use it on a Fax machine. We initially thought they'd settle with us and give us a fortune, but our attorney told us it'd cost about $150,000 just to begin the lawsuit, and there was no guarantee we could win. As it turned out, the company dropped the product six months later, and it went nowhere.

You can't copyright an idea, either, but there have been plagiarism lawsuits, when the texts are too close -- particularly when they try to pass off the new work as "research." J.K. Rowling just shut down that Harry Potter encyclopedia book, based on the website, over that very distinction. Sadly, the website (www.hp-lexicon.org) has shut down as well, which is sad.

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I don't believe that a tv series title has ever been protected by copyright.

As far as I know, they've never gone to trial. But ABC and NBC went toe-to-toe in 1975, when ABC had a late-night variety show called Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell, while NBC had a new sketch comedy show called Saturday Night. Only after the Cosell show crashed and burned did NBC finally give the OK to change the name of the show to Saturday Night Live, which is what it's been called for the past 32 years. I doubt most people even remember it once had a different name.

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I haven't seen any movies in this genre, or read any books, so this was virgin territory for me.

My partner just reminded me of two more: the three Spy Kids movies from writer/director Robert Rodriguez, and the two Agent Cody Banks movies starring Frankie Muniz. Both about kids that become spies -- but again, with a very light-hearted tone, no death, and very little violence.

I still say your story is braver, because it has real violence, real death, and (ahem) some real sex. Ain't gonna get that in no PG kids' movie.

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You can't copyright an idea, either...

You can't patent an idea either, the idea has to be turned into a fully functioning invention, that's called "reduced to practice". You have to have drawings, and describe how the invention can be produced, what it's inputs and outputs are, how it functions.

Colin :icon_geek:

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You can't patent an idea either, the idea has to be turned into a fully functioning invention, that's called "reduced to practice".

That's the way the law is written, but the reality is, anybody can sue you (in America) if they have enough time and money to crush you. They may not win, but they can tie you up for years, just trying to defend yourself. And, as has been proven many times, even if you're ultimately vindicated, you may not be able to collect legal expenses.

There's a lot of case law still being decided about computer software, what can be protected, what can't be protected, and how broad patents can be. To me, this is an immensely complex area that doesn't quite apply here. And judges can be woefully ignorant about complicated technical issues. Patent & copyright infringements are also handled very differently when it comes to publishing, movies & TV, and music.

The reality is, movies with almost-identical stories and ideas happen all the time. I'm reminded of the "giant asteroid hits Earth" dilemma that Paramount and Disney had in 1998, with the two movies Deep Impact and Armegedden. It had been done 35 years earlier with When Worlds Collide, but Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle did it best with their 1977 award-winning novel Lucifer's Hammer (which has yet to be filmed). Nobody could sue anybody, because the idea of a giant asteroid hitting earth has been around for about 80 years.

If one studio registers a title with the MPAA first, though, then they get dibbs on it (at least in North America). And I think if you had a really unique title, and somebody else tried to use it, the publishing house with the deepest pockets would ultimately win.

The bottom line is that Cole is perfectly safe to use a teenage spy as a plot idea, because it's substantially different from the other works. But if he created a boy with magic powers whose name was "Barry Dotter," then he might have a problem. :icon_geek:

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Geez. Anybody who created a name like "Barry Dotter" would have to be sued, indeed, charged with an offense against humanity. Don't think I didn't notice the Freudian implications of the verbalization, "Bury Daughter", although maybe in the USA it is pronounced 'burry', and that doesn't apply.

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From the US Copyright Office:

Names, titles, and short phrases or expressions are not subject to copyright protection. Even if a name, title, or short phrase is novel or distinctive or if it lends itself to a play on words, it cannot be protected by copyright. The Copyright Office cannot register claims to exclusive rights in brief combinations of words such as:

Names of products or services

Names of businesses, organizations, or groups (including the name of a group of performers)

Names of pseudonyms of individuals (including pen name or stage name)

Titles of works

Catchwords, catchphrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions

Mere listings of ingredients, as in recipes, labels, or formulas. When a recipe or formula is accompanied by explanation or directions, the text directions may be copyrightable, but the recipe or formula itself remains uncopyrightable.

Australian Government Copyright FAQ

Are names and titles protected by copyright?

Copyright protects literary works including books, poems and newspaper articles. The Copyright Act does not expressly protect names and titles. In most cases dealing with this issue, the courts have held that names and titles are not protected on the basis that they are not substantial enough to constitute literary works and that they fail to satisfy the test of originality under copyright law.

As you can see both the US and Australian Laws seem to regard extending copyright protection to titles, similarly.

I have no doubt that specific cases could well be the subject of a matter before the courts. But the above articles would indicate that one could be expected to be asked (with perhaps, threat of litigation) to cease and desist the use of a title, before any attempt at prosecution. The above quotes also would indicate such prosecution has a slim chance for success.

However, the artwork of the title can be registered as a trademark or might be subject to copyright.

This would mean I can call my story The Sound Of Music, but I would not be able to draw or write it in the style that was used for the movie title.

It would also be questionable for my story to be about the Von Trapp Family singers because their story forms the basis of The Sound of Music movie.

But if my story was simply about two boys discovering that saying "I love you," to each other was like music to their ears, then based on the above I would have a fair chance of being able to use the title, if such was my want.

I can also quite imagine a severe, dark, story, called The Sound of Music about a youth whose dysfunctional family throws him out the door because he is gay, and their final words, as he lies bleeding in the gutter, are for him, the sound of music that sets his spirit free. (pass the tissues) :icon_geek:

As I said above I understand the desire to find an original title. I certainly don't think all the good ones have been used. If that is the case then we should hold a funeral service for the English language as soon as possible and it should be in some other language. :icon_geek:

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I would think regretting that all the titles have been used is akin to composers regretting all great melodies have been written.

Just as the vast combinations of possible notes continues to make new musical compositions an everyday event, we have too many words in our language to have used up all title possibilities. Granted that many of the simple ones have been used, and probably more than once, just as Twinkle Twinkle and such simplistic melodies have now been written, but with each word we add, just as with each note we add to a melody, we're mathematically reducing the chances we're cloning someone else's title.

I wrote a story early on in my 'career' as a writer and named it Tim. I have no idea how many other stories may have had that title. I didn't check, and didn't know where I would have done that in any case. I assumed the title had been used before. But I was fairly certain no one had ever written what I wrote in that story before. And that was what was important to me. The story was wholly about a boy named Tim, and I thought it an appropriate title therefore. Now, sitting here thinking about it, I still can't think of a better title.

I love being creative. It's one of my prime motivations as a writer. But I tend to put most of that energy into the story, much more so than into the title. I don't so much care if the title is creative as that it's appropriate.

Just my opinion.

C

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