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  1. #11
    One of my LM wins involved lyrics from about 6 different songs. Haven't been sued and don't expect to be.

  2. #12
    Member Irwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    No it isn't, that's nonsense.
    You could have just written: pure crap is about to follow.

  3. #13
    Member Irwin's Avatar
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    This is from a Writer's Digest article:

    Q: What are the legal ramifications of reproducing song lyrics in a manuscript? If permission from each copyright holder is necessary, what’s the best way to secure these permissions? Also, can I use a song title as the title of my book?—June Youngblood
    A: Song lyrics are copyrighted, which means you need permission to use them. According to our legal expert Amy Cook, there isn’t any specific law about how much you can take under fair use, but it’s common for the music industry to say you need permission for even one line of a song.


    “The music industry is pretty vigilant about song lyrics,” Cook says. “This is especially true if you’re using the lyrics in a novel to progress the story or add atmosphere. If you’re a music critic reviewing a CD, you have more leeway under fair use.”

    As for song titles, however, titles of any kind (book, song) aren’t copyrightable. But they occasionally can be subject to trademark or unfair competition laws.

    https://www.writersdigest.com/editor...-my-manuscript
    You might get away with using someone else's song lyrics in your novel, but all it would take is one person to recognize them and report you to whoever holds the copyright, and they could sue the crap out of you, even if you didn't make any money from it, which is the way it should be. It's stealing. You're trying to benefit from someone else's work, otherwise, you wouldn't have used their lyrics.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Irwin View Post
    This is from a Writer's Digest article:



    You might get away with using someone else's song lyrics in your novel, but all it would take is one person to recognize them and report you to whoever holds the copyright, and they could sue the crap out of you, even if you didn't make any money from it, which is the way it should be. It's stealing. You're trying to benefit from someone else's work, otherwise, you wouldn't have used their lyrics.
    I know that article. What I'm saying isn't that it is incorrect but that it isn't the full picture.

    This is the problem with trying to get legal advice from the internet. The person who gave that advice in the article was speaking in very general terms about something for which no general approach applies. As a result, their advice is 'by the book'. And that's fine.

    But there is a huge variance in copyright law between the extent of what constitutes 'theft'. This is especially true if we are speaking about a handful of throwaway lyrics.

    If I have a line in my story where somebody is listening to the radio and begins singing along and that results in a couple of snippets from 'Eleanor Rigby' in a manner which makes it extremely clear this is a reference to a song on the radio...that is no different to a line in which Joe Schmoe goes to his refrigerator and pours himself a glass of Pepsi. In other words, that's not plagiarism, that's not stealing, it's covered under the umbrella of a 'pop culture reference' which nobody has ever been sued for. The reason they have not been sued for it is because there is no way any lawyer for Warner Brothers or whoever owns the content could possibly prove malicious intent or damage based on that level of usage.

    OTOH: If a writer copy-pastes significant portions of a song's lyrics verbatim and/or bases the story around the content, that's totally different. That is plagiarism because in that case the intent was obviously to utilize the song lyrics as 'own work' and to effectively use them to improve the story, without payment to the author (the writer of the lyrics). People have been sued for that sort of thing, though not many.

    Look at it another way: How many unauthorized biographies and books about musicians and music are out there? Freaking thousands. None of those will provide full lyrics, because of the point above, but most of them will reference lyrics or lines from songs, etc when discussing the music, in the course of making their point. It isn't stealing.

    On the other, other hand I understand people get skittish about this stuff and it is good advice to err on the side of caution, which is essentially what the article you posted is saying. I'm just saying something is only illegal when a judge actually decides, and that has not been a problem based on incidental quotes of song lyrics in otherwise unrelated stories -- find an example. And no, it doesn't matter what the 'industry lawyer' hacks have to say about it -- they are well-known for being bastards and writing cease & desist letters knowing they are as weak as bad tea. Well, okay, but fuck 'em. That sort of thing was a big reason I exited that profession and I'm not about to give a fig for what some commercial licensing legal bureau has to say.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

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