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  1. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Earworm singer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Smoke, Apr 13, 2011.

    I'm wondering about my fanfiction where the insert suffers from Earworms. When I read many fanfictions, I skim through anything that looks like a lyrics insert.

    In rare cases, my character sings as dialogue inter-mingled with scene or emotion-building. This is the type that would escape my own filters if done subtly enough.

    The other case is that I include the lyrics as pre-chapter intros, and then hint that the character is singing mid-chunk. I figure that if my readers care, they would have looked up the song and listened to it either before or after reading the chapter, and my only hint is to indicate when the character is singing. (Ironically enough, the more important songs are long enough that I'm counting on my readers to find them on the internet.... one of my planned songs involves me creating a music video just so it's accessible.) The previous incarnation of the story did inspire some research into the band I was plagiarizing.

    I'm not worried so much about copyright or marketability, since the whole story relies on a copyright-holder not enforcing their dislike of publicity.

    In a meant-to-publish story, I would hire a poet instead of stealing songs. I'm still interested in presentation.
     
  2. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    None of my characters will actually sing because (a) I am not a good song writer and don't wish to expose myself as such. If they have to sing, I'll mention it like:

    "Omar licked his lips, then sung a slow Arabic melody in a low, quiet voice. As he watched the setting sun, the chilly Boston air carried the haunting lyrics to the old cementary..."

    While the context behind Omar singing is vague, and I know it looks totally random, but this little sentence basically lets the reader imagine the lyrics Omar is singing. The power of the imagination is truely a remarkable thing.

    However, if I wanted Omar to actually sing a song like the Beatles, I'd write something like: "Omar began to sing one of his all-time favorite music from the Beatles, Here Comes The Sun as he drove down the busy interstate."
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You are just begging for a career-ruining lawsuit if you publish lyrics without written permission, and that includes publication on a web site,
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    But what if a character just say a line, as in he's listening to the Beatle's in his iPod and he sings out loud a line from the song? Is it acceptable as the narrative acknowledges where the line came from and who sung it originally?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    ANY inclusion of lyrics exposes you to expensive litigation.
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    But what of works of art that isn't music? Like I had a character mention Dickens' Oliver Twist or quoted a line from Shakespeare with the citation and line? I always thought that as long as you make it clear where you got it, you are okay.

    I don't mean to irritate you or start an argument. My Fiction Writing teacher talked about this the other day and that's what she told us. She is also a published author as well, so I usually take her word for it.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Titles are not covered under copyright. Shakespeare is in the public domain. Including copyrighted artwork itself can get you in trouble, but a mention of it is a different matter.

    You really should familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of copyright law. It's important.
     
  8. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Maybe I should start including that disclaimer about having to be indentured servitude to the company I'm raping? Seriously, if Danny Elfman starts harrasing me, he's going to have to stand in line behind the people backing Laura Croft. Considering that I can only avoid being charged for property damage because of how cheap drywall under five layers of paint doesn't show marks from my paltry blows, they are better off leaving me alone and not going after all the others that own less than $100 worth of stuff.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This site supports the laws and the spirit of protection of intellectual property rights.
     
  10. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Okay.... Hopefully the site I post to is more obfuscating-dodging, or else I was screwed five years ago.

    At the time, I probably would have benefited from my indentured-servitude disclaimer. At this point, they'd probably drive me to murder as equally as getting me to limit myself to a single hip-flask during a typical work-day.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    professional writers respect each other's copyrights...

    any who want to write should bone up on the subject: www.copyright.gov
     
  12. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    This is fanfiction. It's more about getting away with providing free advertising and hoping that no one will demand your worldly possessions due to damage.
     
  13. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your teacher was probably talking about plagiarism. When quoting someone's work, like Shakespeare's, it's considered good form to make it clear you didn't write it yourself and include a source reference. Failing to do so will make you look like a fraud and may be against the rules of schools and universities, but it's not illegal and won't (normally) get you sued.

    When quoting copyrighted works, you also need to worry about violating copyright, which CAN get you sued by the copyright holder. Including a source reference is not a defence against copyright infringement.

    Many countries, including the United States, allow you to use a small part of someone else's work in your own without the copyright holder's permission. In the USA, this mostly applies to comments, criticisms and parodies ("fair use"), but it's also allowed in other cases if the passage is sufficiently small and passing ("de minimis"). Like in Cogito's signature, for example.

    Source: Stanford University

    I wouldn't take the risk of including a line of a song in a commercial work of fiction, but if it's fan fiction, go for it. You're already using someone else's characters.
     
  14. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Actually, my original question was more about reading patterns. Like I said, I'd hire a poet to come up with song lyrics if I felt the ear-worming was important enough to the story, but it seems not-worth-it if people are going to skim over that part.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Fan fiction does NOT fall under fair use.

    And on this site, you may not recommend how to get away with copyright violation.

    Whether or not you are caught or prosecuted is not the issue. Theft of intellectual property is despicable.
     
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