Short explanation: Your book or chapter cannot contain or be based on/inspired by copyrighted content (like song lyrics, quotations, characters, or imaginary worlds) that belongs to other people or companies.
More info: Intellectual property is a legal term that refers to creations of the mind. Some examples include: music and lyrics; poetry; books, comics, or movies (including characters and the imagined worlds they inhabit); artwork; inventions; and software. Intellectual property rightfully belongs to its creators (or in some cases, to corporate entities like music labels, book or comic publishers, movie studios, video game or music producers/distributors, etc.). Strict laws about intellectual property exist to protect creators against anyone who uses their work without authorization or proper financial benefit.
Not every place on the internet is diligent about preventing intellectual property violations, but because Storybird is a place where people are creating original work every day, we take protecting these rights seriously. What does this mean for your writing? In general, references to intellectual property in your own story are permissible (for example, a character can mention a title or some of the details about a book or a song or a TV show), but your original writing cannot include someone else’s actual intellectual property itself, in whole or in part (for example: song lyrics and quotes from other books cannot be included in your story). You also cannot write fanfiction, or a story that is based on or inspired by another creator’s characters, world (including invented locations or the rules guiding the society), or unique combination of creative details (like animal clans with a particular pattern of naming, or a specific quest that must be fulfilled that contains the same challenges and special powers as in a video game). It’s not enough to credit the creator, note that a copyright violation is not intended or that you have no rights to the original work, or state that your story is inspired by/based on someone else’s work—if the original creator has not signed a contract with you or been paid a licensing fee by you for the right to incorporate their work, then it’s against the law for us to publish it on our site or in Storybird’s public library, so your work must be revised.
Note: There is one exception to intellectual property laws: certain books, poems, and songs have existed for so long (many years after the creator’s death) that their legal rights have expired, so the works are considered “in the public domain,” and owned by no one. Excerpts from these works can be included in your writing if you can prove that the work is in the public domain upon request by our moderators.
The good news about all this: when you put your writing on Storybird, we’re serious about protecting your rights, too! No one may copy your work, in whole or in part, or make money from it without your permission.
For more information and explanations about specific issues relating to our Guidelines, check the other topics in the Understanding Our Guidelines section of our Help/FAQ.