Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Time for Some Fair Use

I was just typing along--la, la, la--throwing lyrics around like candy and thinking: Oh the beauty of the words...oh, to connect with people through music...oh, to create mood in my story.


In my first book, Dealing with Blue, I peppered lyrics from The Great Pretender by the Platters in my first chapter since it seemed appropriate, pairing nicely with the theme of the story: fake it 'til you make it.

No one said a thing.

In my second book, RHOH, I had written that a ring tone blared, "I am iron man." My copy editor jumped on it, saying I couldn't use even a single line from Iron Man by Black Sabbath unless I had permission. I could use the title of the song and the artist without repercussion.

That's it!

At the PNWA conference I attended a session called Legal Issues for Writers led by an attorney, Jason Cruz, and he pretty much agreed. Don't take any chances. Be sure if you're borrowing you have the legal right to do so or check that it's in the public domain.

Good luck!

I immediately rewrote the first chapter in Dealing with Blue to get rid of the lyrics and, fortunately for me, I think my story was better for it.

Here are a couple helpful links:

The Book Designer -- "...for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

Jane Friedman -- "Because songs and poems are so short, it’s dangerous to use even 1 line without asking for permission, even if you think the use could be considered fair."


"Only those who are asleep make no mistakes." ~Ingvar Kamprad

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