Using song lyrics


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Thread: Using song lyrics

  1. #1
    Member KHK's Avatar
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    Using song lyrics

    I am not sure this belongs under Research, but couldn't think of a more suitable subforum. Mods, please move this thread if needed.

    What is the proper procedure for quoting popular song lyrics in a book?
    Is it enough to provide attribution in a footnote, or in the beginning/end of the book?
    Or do I have to find the copyright holders, reach out to them, and obtain an explicit permission to use the lyrics?

  2. #2
    Member Irwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KHK View Post
    I am not sure this belongs under Research, but couldn't think of a more suitable subforum. Mods, please move this thread if needed.

    What is the proper procedure for quoting popular song lyrics in a book?
    Is it enough to provide attribution in a footnote, or in the beginning/end of the book?
    Or do I have to find the copyright holders, reach out to them, and obtain an explicit permission to use the lyrics?
    Option three is the winner!

    You also have to pay them to use their work, if they so desire, or they could sue the crap out of you. After all... you're trying to make money from their work.

  3. #3
    It ain't cheap either.

  4. #4
    Slightly off topic, but I have royalties down for this example (also with my new member status, I cannot make a new thread on the creative forums, yet, boo hoo ). The song I'm using lyrics from was self-released by my friend Austin, and he gave me the ok to use them.

    My question is: how would one go about putting diegetic music into literature? I suppose that term doesn't quite fit here, since the readers can't hear it, but I don't know what else one would call it. Basically in this scene, I have a song come on over a radio, and want to write the first stanza, which then sparks a conversation between the two characters speaking. How would I go about doing that non-awkwardly? I've put it as a block quote here, just to highlight the lyrics, but that's not how I'm for sure going to do it.


    “Well of course it’s boring, Craig! That’s what we’re hoping for, I don’t want shit to go down, or else that gives me more paperwork!” “Yeah, I getcha, Cliff… But can’t we at least turn on the radio or something?” “Well, we’re not supposed to…” Cliff looked down at the radio pensively, the allure of stupid catchy pop-rock drawing him ever closer. “…but what the hell! Alright, 3 2 1 let’s Jam!” Cliff switched on the radio with an overly percussive vigor and tuned to a local rock station. Craig immediately perked up. “Aw yeah! Now you’re speaking my language, love this tune!”

    “Gretchen,
    my girlfriend’s stepmom works
    as the manager at the store
    she calls my line, late at night
    to keep me from getting bored”

    “That’s the fuckin life, man.” Cliff said rather wistfully. “What? Working in a grocery store? Trying your best not to fall asleep? Seems like a shit job to me…” Cliff looked flustered at Craig’s low appraisal. “Nah, nah. I’m talking’ having a hot older chick like that looking after you.” “Older women, eh?” As Craig turned on fifty, the charm of an older woman began to become lost on him. At this point, a hot milf relative to his age would be about eighty. There’s nothing seductive about that. Cliff, on the other hand, was young, About twenty three. Part of Craig could understand his viewpoint, but then again, he didn’t really care. “What, you need a sugar mommy? I’m sure I could find you one, you short on cash again? That’s the price you pay for all your stylish suits.”



    It's my story, Mom! I can put a Cowboy Bebop reference in if I want!
    Last edited by SodaLord; February 12th, 2020 at 08:21 AM.

  5. #5
    I'm going to give you the "it depends" answer and hope it's not too vague.

    In general, fair use doctrine allows snippets, credited of course, to be used in general works and, to a greater extent, in reviews and discussions about the work. Something like this can work:

    Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was playing on someone's radio and, at the moment of the eclipse, exit light, enter night, echoed across the field. The crowd broke out in applause, whether for the eclipse or Metallica, I'm not sure anyone could tell.

    Naturally, stuff that has fallen into the public domain is fair game and so on. And, just as naturally, your editor may send you a note telling you the legal department wants the line removed.

    Jeff

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