1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Song lyrics

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Aug 12, 2011.

    How do we represent song lyrics in prose? Do we break paragraphs, even when the character's dialog flows from speaking to singing without pause? How do we divide lyrics?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, if the song is still under copyright, you can't use lyrics without the copyright holder's permission...

    how you type it depends on how it's used and how much of the lyric is being quoted...

    for just a few words, or a single line, you'd incorporate it into the paragraph as you would any quoted/spoken words... if you need to include several lines, it's best to do it as a block indent...

    better study the cans and can'ts of using lyrics before you go any further:
    www.copyright.gov
     
  3. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    They're public domain songs.
     
  4. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    And what about if we just name songs? I have a few mentions in my stories, and these songs are attached to copyrights. I know we can name things since you can't copyright a name, but I just want to make sure that extends to song titles (and artist titles). Does this fall under fair use?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. Fair use only applies to material that is copyrightable. Titles are not copyrightable, therefore they do not fall under Fair Use.
     
  6. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    So can I use song titles without fear? Or did you just answer my question when you said "Song titles are not copyrightable"? Sorry. Long night, little sleep.

    I'm guessing the same applies to artist names unless I'm told differently.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no restrictions against naming songs or songwriters/artists in your work, as long as you don't malign them, thus leaving yourself open to being sued for libel, defamation of character, etc....
     
  8. Robert James Burrows
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    Robert James Burrows New Member

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    Sorry if this is a sloppy laymen's approach but, for dialog I use "
    for lyrics however, I use ' - Perhaps go Italic while you're at it?

    If I wrote something, and had someone sing something I wrote, to show the reader that they're lyrics opose to speech, I would just use '.

    But from what I can gather, it's up to the publisher, how everything gets formatted anyway.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you are to enclose a set of lyrics, you should use either regular quotes (best for a single line or two) or a block quote (normal text indented from the paragraph level).

    Don't use italics, and don't use single quotes (unless you are in the UK, and are using single quotes for your dialogue as well).
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!... ' ' are totally incorrect in that context [in the us]... as are italics...
     

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