literature

26. OCs with a Canon Character's Name

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It's one thing if the OC has the same name with a canon character of the same fandom the fan fiction takes place in (which could be problematic: however could also be interesting), but it's another thing entirely if the canon character is not present within the fandom the fan fiction, or even original fiction, takes place in.

Kagome Higurashi from Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha is practically an iconic character.  Anyone who reads manga has probably at least heard of Inuyasha, and since this series is so popular in the manga world, the main character, Kagome, would also be well-known.  Takahashi didn't make up the name, "Kagome."  Kagome, as the name or word, is more well known as a little children's game, but, if written in kanji, the popular translation would be "bamboo weave pattern". Not to mention Takahashi used the name because she had seen it on TV, so she herself used the name from another source.  In other words, if you're going to attack anyone because they used Kagome as a name for their character because the person happened upon the name reading or watching Inuyasha, it would also be like attacking Rumiko Takahashi who also happened upon the name from another source.  

Now if someone used the entire name, Kagome Higurashi, for the character, then there's a problem.  Now coincidences do happen, but with a media as popular as Inuyasha, it would be really hard to defend yourself in court for copyright infringement.  It would be best to look up the publishing date, compare, and change the name if your story came out after the other party's story.

Naruto, from Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto, is a little unusual.  Literally, Jiraiya, another character from the same fandom, looked down at his ramen, saw a narutomaki, and on a whim decided to name a character from his book after the sliced fish cake with the spiral pattern.  Then again, Naruto is also the name of a few places in Japan, which is a common practice to name children after places, so as popular and unusual as Naruto is, it's OK.

What if the original creator of a fandom made up the name from scratch?  Then there's a problem with using names from that particular fandom, just as using the same spells as J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and calling it your own.  The author made up the name, which makes it completely unique, and if they even made up a language to go along with those names, makes it all the more credible for if they need to file a DMCA or copyright infringement form.

To summarize, it's OK to use names or words from outside sources for your story unless the copyright holder made up the name and/or language him or herself and unless you're using the full name of the canon character for your own character.  And just because a fandom is popular, doesn't meant that the names are any less accessible.
If you haven't, please read my Mary-Sue: Who is She? Series first.

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Griffonmender's avatar
You probably could use Kagome Higurashi- higurashi is "cicada(s)", and also the name of a horror anime.
It would, however, make it hard to find your Kagome underneath all the pics of the other Kagome. ^^;
Not to mention you can't copyright a name or title- though if it's TRADEMARKED, you can't use it.
And if the name is stupidly common, like George, Steve, or even Mario, it's honestly just stupid to go "you stole this name from x!"- both because names can't be copyrighted AND because how would they know which George you "took" that name from, anyway?