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  1. Hublocker

    Hublocker Active Member

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    Quote songs?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Hublocker, Feb 15, 2019.

    I have a scene in Karaoke bar. Can I legally mention artists and song titles without requiring copyright permission?
     
  2. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not a lawyer, but I think you're safe if you just quote a line or two. But if you're going to be using a publisher, be sure to point out the usage and have their legal people look at it.
     
  3. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    Pretty sure artist and song title are not subject to copyright. I can mention Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run any time, any where without fear of a copyright lawsuit.
    Same thing with book titles and authors.

    In my WIP, one character is quite fond of the Pern series, and even dresses up as Melony (with nine little robot firelizards) for Halloween. But crucially, she isn't Melony (not even close. :) )-- I can mention another author's character, but I don't have the right to use that character.
     
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  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    There is no problem mentioning songs and artists. I've published works doing both and it wasn't even an issue brought up by editors. Song lyrics are a different story. I did not quote any lyrics and I know that you need permission for that. However, I have a friend who published a story using lyrics. Her publisher did all the work to obtain the rights, and she said the cost was minimal for the particular lyrics she used. Her publisher picked up the tab on that.
     
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  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I agree that mentioning name and artist isn't a problem. Song lyrics tend to be short so the amount you can use and make a fair use argument can be limited. That said, something like this wouldn't trouble me:

    Kathryn revved up the old Ford and switched the radio on. Springsteen's voice drowned out the sounds of the road. She felt thirty years younger as she sang "We'd go down to the river."
     
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  6. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    And if you have a character singing along, they can get the lyrics wrong. Happens all the time.
    Like singing along with Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze and using "'Scuze me, while I kiss this guy!" instead of the real line.
    I doubt that would infringe on the Purple Haze copyright, but I'm not a copyright attorney. :)
     
  7. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Given how few lines are in the average song, that would be like quoting an entire chapter from a novel ;)
     
  8. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    True dat. But I missed the original poster's remark about artists and song titles. These aren't subject to copyright, although I don't know what the status is of a song whose entire lyrics are the song title.
     
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  9. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    Sufficiently short works are almost impossible to copyright. So the title might have to be pretty long to be protectable.
     

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