1. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Quoting songs

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by agentkirb, Nov 12, 2009.

    I don't know if I've ever seen this in books I've read. From a copyright infringement standpoint what are the rules here?

    Is flat out copying a verse infringement? Even if you mention in your story who the author of the song is?

    What about if you split up the lines of the song into single quotes (as if the character was singing it outloud, and then after every line there would be come kind of commentary). For example...

    "line one from song" He sang loudly as he beat his hands to the music.
    "line two from song" He pushed his foot on the gas pedal even more as he sung along.
    Blah blah blah

    I'm just kind of curious as to what the rules are.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    You need permission of the copyright holder, period.

    And the holder of the copyright is likely to charge for that.

    (But if the line used is the title of the song, then that's alright, because titles cannot be copyrighted.)
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    somewhat true, as long as the song is still under copyright... very old ones wouldn't be...

    a single line of a lyric can generally be used without permission, as long as you cite the source properly... but the law is a bit fuzzy on how much is too much... you need to familiarize yourself with the copyright laws... do that at the source:
    www.copyright.gov
     
  4. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I know in general about copyright laws (siting sources, etc), but then there's the law and then there's the application of the law.
     
  5. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    I'm using some old songs in my work...anybody know when the copyright expires?
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't believe a single line of a lyric without permission is any less of a copyright violation. I think it's just than no one is likely to bother to take that to court.

    But agentkirb, you will NOT get advice here on how much of a copyright violation you can get away with. We do not condone the theft of intellectual property at all.
     
  7. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    Most owners of lyrics zealously guard their copyright. Be safe and either ask for permission (and be prepared to pay, or have your publisher pay) or only mention the song's title and/or who performed it. There's no reason you couldn't have one of your characters "start belting out the lyrics to Satisfaction like he was Mick himself" or somesuch.
     
  8. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    It's not like that.

    This is why I'm asking in this thread so that I don't accidentally break the law when I don't know what I'm doing.

    Edit:

    I can kind of see where you got the impression that that's where I was going when I said "there's the law and then there's the application". I know that lawyers use old court cases where a law was interpreted a certain way to help their case. I didn't want read up on law and interpret it one way and then it turns out there have been 100s of court cases where people do something like what I was asking and I get in trouble.

    Again.. I'm pleading ignorance here, just asking a question. You guys have answered that question and I thank you guys for your advice.
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    In most countries, I believe it is 70 years after death. But you should definitely check that with your country's copyright law.
     
  10. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    Actually, fair use law may cover you. This site has some information on past fair use decisions in a variety of cases: http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyright_and_Fair_Use_Overview/chapter9/9-c.html

    Alternately, you can copy the US Copyright Office and they will tell you if what you want to do is covered under fair use or not: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html (see the last paragraph)

    Hope this helps.
     
  11. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I don't think fair use applies to fiction...
     
  12. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    Actually, my worry was about fair use applying to a for-profit work. But yeah, good point.
     
  13. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I'm not terribly familiar with Fair Use, as the doctrine itself isn't a part of English Law.

    I'm really interested in Intellectal Property law though, and it's one of my career considerations at the moment.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Fair use applies to quoting for educational or review purposes, primarily. It does not apply to for-profit writing, because the inclusion of the copyrighted material may be viewed as a way to increase the marketability of your writing from someone else's work.
     
  15. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's off topic for which I apologise, but my company has a whole department dedicated to Interllectual Property and its protection.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but i can't make any sense of this... here's the last paragraph that you refer to:

    as you can see, they won't tell you anything in re specific cases and make a point of saying it's best to consult an attorney...
     
  17. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    Oh man, I totally misread that! Boy is my face red, lol.

    Thanks so much, Maia.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you look good in red though, so don't sweat it! ;-)
     

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