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  1. #1
    Morris Graham
    Guest

    copyright restrictions

    I am almost through with my first novel. In my novel my character has a few hours where he is travelling, so he listens to music. I quote a couple of paragraphs from the lyrics of such songs as they relate to the characters mood or situation.

    My question is, how much if any of someones copywrited song lyrics can I refer to in my book without permission or paying royalties?

    Thanx



  2. #2
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    Zero. It's very tricky to get permissions to quote song lyrics, and yes, you must pay a royalty fee. To find out who owns the copyright for a song, go through BMI or ASCAP.

    Jeanne

  3. #3
    jayce
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    Google the term "fair use".

    That said, free legal advice obtained from an anonymous writing forum might be worth less than what you paid for it.

  4. #4
    jayce
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    Wow, I just glanced at your profile: you've written a novel based on and named after a game published by Activision? Unless you've worked that out with them, I'm thinking song lyrics aren't your main problem.

  5. #5
    Morris Graham
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    I am having issues with my member authentication. I had to create a subaccount and am now commenting based on that, however, since it is the same email server, I probably only get one chance to post with this one, since I din't get an aiuthentication on it either.

    I checked out 'fair use' on the US Copywright Office website.

    Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

    1)the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    2)the nature of the copyrighted work;

    3)amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    4)the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The distinction between “fair use” and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

    I can honestly say that the song lyrics, which are only four of them, about 1-2 paragraphs long in a 116,000 page novel is small in relation to the whole, and that the effect of the use will not hurt the commercial use of the owners of the property.

    The fact that 'fair use' may not be easily deined is tough.
    I still don't know what the right answer is.

    Morris Graham

  6. #6
    Joe Moore
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    Fair Use does not apply in your case. You must have written permission from the COPYRIGHT holder prior to publication. The minimum number of words you can use before infringement is ZERO. Furthermore, your publisher will not publish your book without written permission to use the lyrics. It is stated in all publishing contracts that NOTHING in the manuscript can be a violation of someone else's copyright or Federal Law.

    Regarding your title, titles do not fall under copyright. Only the content of the book. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Elena Solodow
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    Morris,

    Stephen King uses a lot of song lyrics in many of his books, and if you look at the title pages, he always cites where the quotes come from and gives the songwriter credit. It's a must.

  8. #8
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    Morris,

    I will repeat this: You MUST pay a royalty fee to use song lyrics. They do not fall into the "fair use" category. I can assure you that Stephen King paid the fee to quote song lyrics in his book.

    Most publishers hate dealing with song lyrics in general because it can be a real challenge to determine rightful ownership, especially if the song is 30 or more years old. Many of these older lyrics have a tangled web of ownership spreading over the writer, the performer, the producer, and various family members.

    You can put the song lyrics in an published work, but before you publish it, you must contact the party who owns copyright for permission to use them.

    There are more than a few publishers who have been stung by the costs of permissions for song lyrics, so be aware that this may not be an inexpensive proposition.

    Jeanne

  9. #9
    Gravity Fades
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    In all three of my novels out so far I quoted a line or two from songs and/or important personages. They ranged from Jethro Tull to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer to Jefferson Airplane to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson to Christian singer/songwriter Randy Stonehill to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

    In every case my publisher took it on themselves to gain the permissions and pay the fees (except for Jeff Davis; him being dead and all *G*). That's part of their job, and they warned me before going further that if any of them said no, I'd have to come up with something different. I agreed.

    All that said, Morris, be careful.

  10. #10
    Morris Graham
    Guest

    Re: copyright restrictions

    Finally got an email address to get a a confirmation email sent to it.

    I found something else besides song lyrics. I quoted an ap news release of JFK's assasination word for word. Is this also going to be an issue?

    thanx

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