1. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    Song lyrics in a book?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Moneica, Apr 15, 2014.

    Ok, in the book I am writing it has a lot of music influencing it. Meaning my main character has the ability to control the radio and what comes out of it in the book. So there are several different mentions in the book of him doing this, and the song that is playing. For example, below is a short part of what I'm talking about.


    The radio that had not worked since the lake starts playing a soft slow melody

    over the speakers.

    “Forever my darling, my love will be true. Always and forever, I’ll love just you…..”

    I turn my eyes towards the radio then back up at him.



    Is this ok to do? My book centers around this kind of thing between the two characters.
    Thanks all
    Moe
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's definitely not ok to do it if the song is still under copyright and you haven't obtained written permission from the lyricist to use the lyrics...
     
  3. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    Ok, is there a place on the net you can go and find out who holds the copyright to the song. I have done searches and come up blank.
     
  4. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    ok, I've been reading up on all this, and what I found is songs can't be used under Fair Use Act. But song titles can't be copyright. So if I rephrase the parts in my book and just use the song titles then it should be ok. For example..

    The radio that had not worked since the lake starts playing a soft slow melody

    over the speakers.

    “Pledging my love...........”

    I turn my eyes towards the radio then back up at him.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is actually an interesting point because the words that are in the title are being used in the lyrics. So it could be that it's OK to state the title (i.e., "Song Title Here was playing on the radio.") but that it's not OK to use the title as lyrics (i.e., The woman sang, "Song title here..."). I'm not sure how this works, but I'd be interested in finding out.
     
  6. Moneica
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    Moneica Member

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    But when you copyright a song, you can't copyright the name of the song, even if its in the lyric. So I am guessing, this has now become how you phrase it?
     
  7. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    You can quote lyrics from public domain songs and you can quote any song title under fair use. Lyrics to songs that are currently copyrighted will require getting permission.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is just a guess, but I don't think you can quote the title if it's in the lyrics because you're technically still quoting the lyrics. However, saying that the song's title is such-and-such is fine because you're not quoting the lyrics. Does that make sense? Again, I could be wrong here, so it's best to consult someone who actually knows about this stuff.
     
  9. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    You can quote the song title even if it is in the lyrics.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless a copyright lawyer has firmly told you that, I don't think that you can say it with confidence. Yes, it seems like a logical extension from the fact that the song title is not copyrightable, but logic doesn't always win in the law.
     
  11. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    I can say it with confidence because it is so. You are the one who is unsure.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    How do you know for sure? Are you a legal expert on the matter?
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    So you are a copyright lawyer, or have asked this question of a copyright lawyer?
     
  14. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    You don't need to be a legal expert to understand something as cut and dry as that. It's no more complicated than knowing that it's illegal to run a red light. You guys can mystify the situation and work yourselves into a tizzy if you want, but I've given you all the correct info you need.
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Giving advice like this is just about the worst thing you can do. The fact of the matter is that this issue is complicated. Hopefully no one takes your advice without first consulting a lawyer.

    Do you at least have a source to back you up?
     
  16. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Here is a mention of this fact in a CNN article: http://travel.cnn.com/tokyo/none/quoting-lyrics-twitter-may-summon-jasrac-bogeyman-690709

    This blogger mentions this fact: http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2013/03/so-you-want-to-use-song-lyrics-in-your.html

    Some forum poster mentions this fact: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=140574

    A copyright expert answers this exact question: http://ezinearticles.com/?Song-Titles,-Lyrics,-and-Copyright-Infringement:-When-Do-I-Need-Permission?&id=6810897

    The book doctor mentions this fact: http://www.spawn.org/editing/askthebookdoctor40.htm

    All these are from the first page of a google search.
     
  17. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    This is not secret information.
     
  18. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    This page directly quotes the information from the us copyright office website indicating that song titles are uncopyrightable.

    http://www.musicrevolution.com/production-music-blog/2011/01/18/can-song-titles-be-copyrighted-legal-advice-from-a-music-publisher/?ModPagespeed=noscript

     
  19. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    I went ahead and looked on the US copyright office website myself, here is some pertinent information: http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html#title

     
  20. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    All of those links say the exact same thing we've been saying: it's OK to use a song's title. My issue is using the title when it's part of the lyrics. These are two different things. In the first case, you're simply mentioning the title (which, again, is OK). In the second case, you're using the actual lyrics, which is what I'm not sure about.

    Again, to illustrate my point, consider the following two cases:

    1. Artist Name's song "Long Title but I'm Trying to Illustrate a Point" was playing on the radio. (This is OK.)
    2. Her favorite song was on, and she sang along. "Long title but I'm trying to illustrate a point..." (I'm not sure if this is OK.)
     
  21. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    I'm doing fanfiction (automatically non-profit and it is allowed to exist because most holders are apathetic towards destroying free advertizement, even when all it would take is a postage stamp or maybe an email.) People are screaming at me that I will be sued immeasurably if I include a line from a song. I am confident that I could email the songwriters and get permission from at least one to have a few bars of lyrics without more cost than a drawing.

    For a published work, try to make something up or bribe a poet to help you first.

    BTW, MLM is a serial abuser of unmarked sarcasm.
     
  22. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    If you quote it as the title of the song and not as a lyric of the song, you have quoted the non-copyrighted title and not the copyrighted lyrics.
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which one of those sources addresses the question of using a song lyric that is the same as the song title, in the context of a lyric, not a title?

    Edited to add: You may see no difference between:

    Context of a title:
    Joe grinned as the song "ChickenFreak's Argument" came on the radio.

    Context of a lyric:
    Joe grinned as a singer crooned, "...ChickenFreak's Argument...."

    but that's no assurance that a judge or jury will agree with you.
     
  24. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    There are thousands of songfics on fanfiction.net. Legal or not, when it comes to fanfiction, copyright holders seem to not care.
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    ...yes, but that's not the question under discussion.
     

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