1. Cloukora
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    Cloukora New Member

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    Basing a chapter off of lyrics

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cloukora, Sep 24, 2013.

    Hi, I'm new here but I have a question.
    There's this band I really love, and I thought it would be really cool and awesome to pay tribute to them in my book. And so in a chapter in my book, most of the events that occur relate to song lyrics from the band. In the town, all the deaths occurring reference their songs. I.E. death by drugs, suicide, murder (I know, creepy, but they're actually pretty cool. In fact the guitarist is the drummer for Slipknot). I'm a bit specific about it too, I actually implement the song lyrics into the events. The question is, is this alright? I even reference their name in it as well. The MC explains that these events relate to the song lyrics. I don't think I'm giving them a bad name, in fact the MC also comments that the band doesn't really endorse death and explains that the band is just trying to break that social norm barrier. So what do you guys think?
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure it matters what e think - have you tried contacting the band?
     
  3. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    Murderdolls or Scar The Martyr? Try contacting the Record Labels/Band see what they say
     
  4. CharlesPenn
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    CharlesPenn Member

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    Great idea, you can pay homage to a band without there being any consequences. Yes it is best to get permission, but don't state you've used them in the story you've only gained inspiration from the lyrics, you can make references to anything in a book. If people enjoy the band and read the book it will click for them and they'll understand.

    Writers do it all the time, Stephen King, Ernest Cline, J.K Rowling etc...to name a few.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you use the lyrics themselves, it is a copyright infringement. You will need to get permission and will probably have to pay.

    If this is your first novel, you are likely putting the cart before the horse. It will not be an issue unless/until you publish (traditional or self).
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto what ed said...

    but it is such an important and potentially costly issue, you do need to deal with it before you even begin to try to get the book published... certainly before you submit it to agents/publishers, or make it available to be read anywhere...

    if you don't, you can be sued for all you have and will ever have... it's not worth the risk...
     
  7. Cloukora
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    Cloukora New Member

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    No, I haven't. I actually didn't think about it until recently.
    Murderdolls. Yeah, it looks like I'll have to unless I just scrap the whole chapter, which I'm not too keen on doing lol.
    Yeah, I don't like copy and paste the lyrics into the book, I just paraphrase and use them to paint a picture.
    It is my first novel. I'm actually going to be publishing it soon through Lulu, so that's why I'm trying to get it cleared up. The whole book is practically done, I'm just in the editing stage now.
    Yeah, I definitely don't want that lol.

    So I'll go ahead and try to contact them. I just hope it doesn't take that long for a reply, cause I'm really anxious to get it published. I kinda want to post an excerpt of the chapter here to give a better idea of what I actually mean. I feel like I'm not using the right words to explain it clearly (ironic for a writer). Also, would it be a good idea to send them my chapter
     
  8. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    never heard of anyone getting sued for "being inspired" by something... sounds strange :)
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bb
    i don't think anyone [certainly i didn't] said you can be sued for being 'inspired by' a song lyric... i was referring only to quoting any part of the lyrics verbatim, which is a major no-no if you don't have the copyright owner's permission...
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You might have a Fair Use argument if you use only small snippets of the lyrics, but that's a fight better avoided.
     
  11. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @mammamaia well I thought the OP just asked about being inspired by lyrics and structuring a chapter based on a song, so the whole issue of legality was out of the scope...
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bb... i took 'implement...into' to mean the op was going to include some of the lyrics... sounds like more than just being 'inspired by' don't you think?

    steerpike...
    the fair use exception doesn't apply to fiction, as far as i know from having read it... and i don't see how the size of the snippets would be relevant in re determining if fair use is applicable, in any case...

    absent the fair use exception, the law regarding inclusion of song lyrics verbatim is rather vague in re how many words would be allowable without obtaining permission from the copyright owner, so i always counsel being safe instead of sorry and not using any at all, if the song is not in the public domain...
     
  13. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @mammamaia
    I found this article to be a more-or-less informative account of fair use in the States
    http://www.mbbp.com/resources/iptech/fair_use.html

    If you live somewhere else and publish in a different market bare in mind that US Constitution and Copyright Law are not universaly accepted legislative documents :D
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It applies to fiction, but it's a harder case to make than if you're using a copyrighted work for educational purposes. Fair Use in the U.S. is determined by analyzing a number of factors, none of which are dispositive. One factor is the nature of the work (whether it is commercial or not, for example). This factor goes against you if you're writing a novel, and it is often considered an important factor, though it doesn't determine the result in and of itself. Another of the Fair Use factors is the amount of the original work being used, which is why I commented about the size of the snippets. The less of a copyrighted work you use, the stronger any Fair Use argument is. With song lyrics in fiction, there are also other Fair Use factors in your favor, such as the impact on the market for the original work, which seems to me to be rather slim. But the commercial nature of the use may be given a lot of weight by a court.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I should noted that the U.S. also has the concept of de minimis use, stated by one court (in the 6th Circuit, I believe), as follows:

    "To establish that a copyright infringement is de minimis, the alleged infringer must demonstrate that the copying of the protected material is so trivial “as to fall below the quantitative threshold of substantial similarity, which is always a required element of actionable copying.” Ringgold, 126 F.3d at 74. In determining whether the allegedly infringing work falls below the quantitative threshold of substantial similarity to the copyrighted work, courts often look to the amount of the copyrighted work that was copied, as well as the observability of the copyrighted work in the allegedly infringing work. See id. at 75. Observability is determined by the length of time the copyrighted work appears in the allegedly infringing work, as well as the prominence in that work as revealed by the lighting and positioning of the copyrighted work. See id."

    There again, the amount of the work used comes into play. De minimis use and Fair Use aren't exactly the same thing, but they are related. But my recommendation when you're writing a commercial work is to be on the safe side and secure permission, particularly since use of lyrics on fiction doesn't fall squarely into a Fair Use category, so you'd be stuck hoping a judge can be convinced that the use is Fair under section 107 of the Copyright Act, as applied by the Courts.
     
  16. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    A question (and a lot of posts about fair use on this forum actually go into 6 pages of bickering because the original poster had a question like this):
    One of three stories that I published in a local magazine in 1995 was titles "Nothing Else Matters" (yeah, it was a shitty adolescent tear-fest, but that's not the point)... I think my author's fee was around 10 Deutsche Marks (around 20Euros, or 30$)... Now, should I be afraid Metallica might come knocking on my door one day - it was a damn profitable bussiness for me back than :D
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Burlbird that's a song title (in addition to being part of the lyrics). Titles don't usually get any copyright protection. They're just too short, as a rule, to meet the minimum threshold for copyright.
     
  18. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Steerpike Theeringpachook >D
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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  20. Cloukora
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    Cloukora New Member

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    So it'll be fine if I use song titles for chapter titles? I know tv shows like Supernatural has done it before, but I don't know if they had to ask for permission. Also, having the main character wear band shirts is alright too, right? I know I'm asking a bunch of these questions, but for my book I would like to integrate real world things into my book to make it more relevant and real. I know brands are okay as long as I don't insult them or give them a bad image or whatever. I just don't know how it is with bands and that sort of thing.

    And I tried to find a way to contact Roadrunner Records through their site, but all they had was a publicity contact email, and a mailing address. So I messaged their Facebook account for advice on who to contact. Now I just have to play the waiting game.
     

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