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John Galt Mortgage Company?

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That’s what the man said, John Galt Mortgage Company.

It’s my understanding you need the copyright holder’s permission to use the name of a character in their novel if you associate the nature of the character with how you use the name.  In this case the company’s website contains the text:  “... we’ll send you our favorite quotes about entrepreneurship, economic freedom, and individual liberty.”  And they say "Go Galt" to get you to use their service.  If I were the copyright holder of Atlas I’d be annoyed.

The same is true – so I thought – for the title of a book instead of the name of a character in the book, as in the case of Richard Minns and his “Atlas Shrugged” sculptures.

A band called “Rush” did this with Anthem, but that book is in the public domain.

Edited by Dupin
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Copyright protection is a result of laws that embody property rights. They are conceptually more difficult than the laws prohibiting you from stealing my car, or even temporarily taking it. It is actually against the law (it is a crime) to take my car temporarily without my permission, but it is not a crime to take my pen temporarily without my permission (the distinction is that theft requires an intent to permanently deprive you of your property, but vehicular theft is a special crime defined simply as “taking without permission”). You are free to hate existing theft laws and to lobby for a legislative change that drops the “intent to deprive” requirement.

Copyright law is the product of national legislation in every country that has copyright (most do). Title 17 of the US Code embodies US copyright law, which is the foundation of copyright protection for Rand’s works (a right inherited by Peikoff). Names are not protected by copyright law. Copyright protection only recognizes original creations, which means that the author had to actually create the particular expression, but the name John Galt was demonstrably created over 100 years before AS, quite probably a number of times before that.

I am constantly annoyed when people misuse my copyrighted works (not by illegal copying, simply by misinterpreting), but it is supremely low-level annoyance. We can legitimately ask whether Rand (not Peikoff) would be annoyed at some misuse of her writings, indeed we can also ask whether I would be annoyed at misunderstanding of Rand’s work. I don’t see the value in speculating about the emotional states of others, but I do see the value in discussing objective moral principles.

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