1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Using lines from a poem for my title

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JosephMarch, Mar 15, 2015.

    Is that okay as far as copyright goes? I might change the lines around a bit. There is actually a lot of poetry in my novel, so I want to use some in the title, not just because it is currently the 'in' thing, haha.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not usually, no. You can usually use the titles of poems, but not the lines of poetry themselves.

    You could look into older poetry, though, stuff that's no longer under copyright.
     
  3. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah look into copyright regulations. And yes, it hurts when you can't do it. I know because I wanted to have a bunch of pop-culture references in my story...but I have a feeling the Taylor Swift lyric quotes are going to have to go (especially given her penchant for trademark protection over her work.) That said you can mention poems or poets (I use this trick a lot) and beat around the bush so to speak.

    That said - depending on the poets you want to use - anything from the 1800s or earlier is going to have passed into the public domain (and pieces of the early 20th Century depending on what country you're in and where the writer lived). So those you can definitely use.
     
  4. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, everybody who died before 1945 are free to be exploited - everybody who survived WW2 or had the luck to be born afterwards are, unfortunately, off limits... Except if you plan to publish in Moldova, for example. In that case you really are one lucky s.o.b. :D

    You can still, however, use titles of pop songs - lyrics are a no-no, titles are a why-not. Same goes for those poetry-things, and films, and other books of fiction, and geography text-books, and articles from Jstor. Except if you plan to misuse them - you can have a character see a "Ghostbusters" movie, but you can't have a story about four ghost hunters in 80s NYC who fight a giant marshmellow and call themselves the Ghostbusters.... (I always thought that no body is that stupid, by the way, but history taught me otherwise. :p )

    Yeah, and of course, if you really neeeeeeed that three verses from an untitled 1972 Philip Levine poem (your whole narrative is going to crumble to pieces without them!) you can always send a letter to Random House and ask for permission etc. If they ever get back to you, you may be asked to pay 50-500$ for it... Or you can find a Moldovan poet who would be glad to give you permission to use his verses for free! :D
     
  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    The other thing to think about is what's important to you and what you may be willing to pay for the rights to later. Not advocating this but I've done a bit of lyric quoting in my own stuff and while I limit it and realize it may get cut, I leave some of it ithere draft because it helps and because I may one day want to ask a publisher how much we would have to pay Taylor Swift and/or Kesha to leave them in.
     

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