Much as I'm sure you would like to have a clear-cut answer to your
question -- and as much as I would like to offer you one -- I'm afraid
it isn't possible.
Protection of fictional characters through copyright -- or through
related law such as trademark or unfair competition -- is so murky
that clear-cut answers just aren't in the cards, I'm afraid.
I can tell you this, however: the Cherry Ames books are most
certainly copyrighted, and were you to use the character name without
permission, you may well find youself on the receiving end of a
cease-and-desist letter, and possibly, a lawsuit.
Even though the law is not particularly clear, common practice can
offer you some guidance. You would be hard-pressed, I'm sure, to find
very many unauthorized uses of common fictional characters from
currently copyrighted works.
Anyone who makes use of, say, James Bond, Mickey Mouse, Wonderwoman,
Superman, or other familiar characters without first getting
permission would certainly be naive, to say the least, to suppose they
could do so without ending up in a legal battle over the use.
Although Cherry Ames isn't quite in the same league with these
characters, the overall rule-of-thumb isn't all that different.
Let me pause, at this point, to emphasize the disclaimer down at the
bottom of the page -- Google Answers is no substitute for professional
legal advice, so take all this with an appropriate grain of salt.
Having said that, though, I suspect it would be unwise to try to make
use of the Cherry Ames character without permission.
The Cherry Ames books are copyrighted. If you head to the search page
for the US Copyright Office, here:
you can conduct a Title search for [ Cherry Ames ], and you'll find
about 15 records for copyrighted works. The listings look like this:
CHERRY AMES AT HILTON HOSPITAL (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, BOARDING SCHOOL NURSE (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, CAMP NURSE (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, CLINIC NURSE (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, COMPANION NURSE (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, COUNTRY DOCTOR'S NURSE (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, DEPARTMENT STORE NURSE (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, DUDE RANCH NURSE (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, MOUNTAINEER NURSE (1 item)
CHERRY AMES, NIGHT SUPERVISOR (1 item)
and so on.
At this site:
Protection of Fictional Characters
you'll find a pretty good (if somewhat legalistic) discussion of the
convoluted nature of the law on this topic. But I think you'll agree
that the overall gist of the article is that such characters do have a
fair degree of protection under a variety of laws.
In particular, the article notes the legal dispute that erupted over a
book called "Lo's Diary", a retelling of the classic novel, Lolita,
from her point of view. The battle ended in a sort of stalemate,
without a clear-cut finding by the courts as to whether a fictional
character like Lolita can be 'borrowed' in other works.
But do you really want to be in a position to find out the answer, by
being taken to court yourself? I fear that's a possibility you would
be facing were you to make use of a fictional character without
I hope I've given you a clear-enough answer to your question, despite
the inherent murkiness of the topic.
However, please don't rate this answer if you find you'd like
additional information. Just post a Request for Clarification, and
I'll be glad to assist you further.
All the best,
search strategy -- Used bookmarked sites on copyright.