1. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Lyrics in writing?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Lucy E., Oct 4, 2008.

    I'm not asking this for me personally. A friend of mine is writing a novel. She mentions a particular song title in the novel, and she wants to use some of the lyrics (four words, if I remember correctly) as the title.
    Where does she stand on copyright issues?
     
  2. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think as long as she states what the song name and singer is, it is allowed. Whether it is said in the novel, or in an achknowlagements section in the back of the novel, if the singer is stated, it is usually ok.


    I'd check with someone who knows more about this though before you take my word.
     
  3. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    I know I used an entire chorus in one of my books, I told my English teacher and he said that so long as you did state somewhere in the book who the song was by and what the song title was, and didn't claim it as your own original work you would be okay.


    That's my english teacher, so I think it's credible but I'm not 100% either.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The music industry takes copyright VERY seriously. You are asking for trouble if you don't secure written permission from the copyright owner in advance.

    Song titles are safe. Lines from the lyrics are another matter.
     
  5. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Secure permission to use the copyrighted material or don't use it.

    I have heard some people argue that the "fair use" doctrine allows some limited usage of copyrighted material, but such use is usually restricted to academic applications or critical evaluation, not to be used in a profit-seeking venture like publishing a story. Here is the US Copyright Office rules on "fair use":

    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

    In general, your friend's use of the title is okay but not the reprinting of lyrics, but a literary attorney should be consulted before doing so. Of course, any traditional publisher would likely catch this during editing and remove the risky words, but if you went through a non-traditional publishing resource (POD, vanity press or self publishing), you could end up in a nasty infringement lawsuit. Like Cog says, the music industry is especially vigilant in such matters.

    ps This information applies to US legal system. I have no idea how such possible infringement is handled in the UK.
     
  6. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Okay, to elaborate:

    My friend mentioned the song 'Fix You' by Coldplay (she shares my fav song :p) playing on the radio during the novel. The novel is titled 'Lights will guide you', which is part of the line 'lights will guide you home' from the song.

    ???
     
  7. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Using lyrics in a school assignment isn't the same. Like Cogito said, the music industry takes copyright very seriously. You need written permission if it's going to be professionally published.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the english teacher was wrong, if it was used in a book of your own, written for publication, and not a class assignment... being a teacher doesn't make one a legal expert on intellectual property issues...

    pay attention to nacl's post... and don't go by what anyone says [including me] on a writing site, when it comes to copyright issues... check the laws at www.copyright.gov and/or consult a literary attorney...
     
  9. de la vega
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    de la vega Member

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    I second Cogito, NaCl, and mammaia. First of all, it is not safe to use either the lyrics or the song title. Copyright infringement is very serious.

    If you can afford the fee, or if there is no fee, consult a copyright attorney. If this isn't an option for you, go to the website already mentioned.
     
  10. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    'Tis an amazing song. ;)
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's nothing wrong with quoting a title, dlv... titles of anything can't be copyrighted and it's perfectly ok to use one or to quote one in your own work...
     
  12. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    See this thread for some more on the subject, thanks as always to maia http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=15598

    I posted on the thread above, but maybe it's in the wrong place?
     
  14. de la vega
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    de la vega Member

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    Yes, I did misspeak there. Thanks.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no prob, mad... see my reply there...

    and you're welcome, dlv!
     

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