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Graeme

When do you need to include copyright information?

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I've read several stories where a copyright acknowledgment has been included because of the inclusion of song lyrics.

What I'm not sure about is where the line needs to be drawn?

For example: song, book and movie titles, one or two lines from a song?

I've been assuming that mentioning something by title does not need a copyright acknowledgment, but I'm not sure if something is quoted from them, when a copyright acknowledgment should be included.

Graeme

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I've read several stories where a copyright acknowledgment has been included because of the inclusion of song lyrics.

What I'm not sure about is where the line needs to be drawn?

For example: song, book and movie titles, one or two lines from a song?

I've been assuming that mentioning something by title does not need a copyright acknowledgment, but I'm not sure if something is quoted from them, when a copyright acknowledgment should be included.

Believe it or not, I can answer this question PROPERLY.

From a LEGAL standpoint, if you use ANY line from a song (or movie or play), you MUST give full credit (at the start or end of your work will suffice). However, you CANNOT have that story published anywhere without the copyright holder's permission. For example if you use a few verses of a song (as I do) and Dude posts it, and the record company sends him a letter, he MUST remove it. And legally he shouldn't post it at all. There are fair use exceptions which generally would be a line that has gone into common use, "Frankly My Dear, I don't give a damn." Also when the title of the work is also in the work "Stairway to Heaven", you can use it safely.

Mentioning a TITLE of something (book, movie, play, song) requires absolutely no credit whatsoever. Though some authors (me!) like to give credit anyway.

That is your legal answer (summed up and lots left out).

Your practical answer is different. You can use a few lines, but you should give credit -- failure to do so is plaigarism. We all like to give nods to things we like. Just don't do it when you're submitting to a publisher.

-- wbms

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Graeme -

I think that WBMS has pretty much covered things, though of course, the requirements may be different in various countries. Even there, the various international conventions on intellectual property would tend to provide some consistency.

However, I would stress that for there to be a violation of another's rights, you would have to be appearing to claim rights of authorship - in other words, making the quoted material appear to be yours. (I realize that you would not do such a thing!) By citing the origin of that material, you are not claiming ownership or any attempt to produce a derivative work.

Obviously, citing tracts of others' written material is quite common in academic, scientific, and other non-fiction realms, and less so in works of fiction. In legal works, those citiation can be quite long at times. In fiction, I doubt that any quote is going to be excessively long or complete. I have seen some lyrics quoted that could be an entire song, but usually its a stanza or two and the refrain. Very doubtful that any uproar would occur from it, if the origin is cited. Keep in mind that it works to be a form of free promotion of the song. I cannot cite any hard evidence on this, but I believe that most fiction that gets yanked off the net is fanfic type work where the original creator of a fictional character or an actual celebrity object to a gay story involving them. Personally, I would think that the uproar would cause more attention than leaving things be.

At worst, the offending quotation would have to be edited out, unless you have been writing fanfic? There, the whole story would go, simply because it infringes on the character used or allegedly damages the celebrity's reputation. (They usually do such a good job themselves!).

Hope that helps - let me know if any questions.

richard

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Thank you, WBMS and RPnSoCal.

I believe that answers my questions, both from a legal and practical point of view.

As RPnSoCal alluded to, the internet complicates things considerably because of the issue of determining which countries laws will be applied, but the basic principles seem pretty clear.

I've never been a great fan of quoting lyrics, but I recently had an idea where a song could have a strong part to play in the story plot, so I wanted to know what to do. I'll probably take the simple approach and leave it out, and implement the plot a different way.

Graeme

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I've read several stories where a copyright acknowledgment has been included because of the inclusion of song lyrics. What I'm not sure about is where the line needs to be drawn?

If you read any mainstream novel, if there's a song quoted in it, generally there's an addendum to the author's copyright at the front of the book, which says something like:

"Song Title"

music & lyrics by Writer One & Writer Two

published by Blah-Blah Music, Inc.

administered by ASCAP

c) 2006 all rights reserved

Used with permission.

In some cases, the author's copyright page has another citation: "Additional copyrights on page XXX," usually at the very end of the book, and you reprint all the song copyrights there.

To get permission, you need to go to the ASCAP or BMI websites (ascap.com or bmi.com), find out who owns the publishing for the song, and write them a letter requesting permission. Technically speaking, I would only worry about this if your story was going to be published in book form. I think the odds are unlikely they'll sue you if the story was only "published" online, and even then, I suspect the most you'd get is a letter demanding that the lyrics be excised.

In some cases, publishers will grant quoting from a few lyrics at no charge; in other cases, there's a flat fee, usually between $500 and $1000 (depending on their expectations of the book's success). But things can get complicated. I know of a case where no less than Stephen King wanted to quote a lyric from a Beach Boys song (like "Fun Fun Fun"), and reportedly co-songwriter Mike Love asked for $100,000. King was so irate, he cut the song out of the novel and used another one instead. So some songwriters can get a little nutty.

If the song lyrics make a good point in your story, or if the music has a specific impact that you can't achieve any other way, then my advice would be leave it in. Music has been a factor in both my novels (and my third, which is still gestating), and I have no problem using a song if I think the story works better with it.

Even if you don't get "official" permission, I think it makes moral sense to at least acknowledge the songwriters' copyright and the names of the people who wrote the songs. To me, that's the least you can do, even in writing not done for profit.

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