Copyright Question

I intend to do National Novel Writing Month again this year. I am thinking of a story based in the “1632 Universe.” This is a long-established universe based on time-travel.

But I am also toying with putting the thing up on Amazon as a self-published book. Buyers could order a hard copy (print-on-demand) or an electronic edition for their Kindle book reader.

Presume I only mention names of characters and places in the 1632 universe, “Ever since Mike Stern told us to …” and so on, would I be OK in terms of copyright?

The 1632 Universe was invented by the novelist Eric Flint. As a writer, I would not feel comfortable using it without his permission.

You should write him a letter. If Wikipedia is to be believed, he is open to collaborative efforts and fan involvement, so he may respond positively.

Eric lets people play in his universe, but not without his permission. You might try visiting the 1632 page and especially the Grantville Gazette, which is the officially sanctioned publication for 1632.

If you try to self-publish without getting permission, you could get into trouble. What you describe would be a derivative work and Eric (and Baen Books) would be suing you as soon as they found out.

Also, if you’re just mentioning characters in the 1632 and not actually portraying them, why set the story in that universe in the first place?

Bah. Nevermind.

If you are only mentioning the names, you are probably ok. If you are writing about the characters (especially). You could be in trouble:

Thank you. I find the Baen website gruesome, but let me drop EF a line.

Donald Kingsbury wrote a book that obviously took place in Asimov’s universe. It was a successor to the Foundation series called Psychohistorical Crisis. (Excellent book, better, IMHO, than Asimov.) But he changed the name of all the planets, all the races and even of Hari Seldon. I once asked about that and he said that it was to avoid copyright problems. Yet he copied the timeline unchanged. I don’t know he thought he could get away with that and he also copied the situation pretty closely. I assume he investigated the copyright questions thoroughly.

Incidentally, Courtship Rite was also in that universe (according to Kingsbury) but Asimov’s universe does not seem relevant to me.