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Permlink Replies: 14 - Pages: 1 - Last Post: Nov 9, 2017 3:06 PM Last Post By: Mary Peebels
Oscar Eduardo

Posts: 7
Registered: 09/18/17
How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 10:14 AM
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Hey everybody,

I am currently in process of writing a book and I want to mention some songs to depict better some scenes.
How do I have to proceed to mention songs in the book without having any sort of troubles due to copyright issues?

Thanks a lot!

Salamander Mall...

Posts: 339
Registered: 10/16/17
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 10:18 AM   in response to: Oscar Eduardo in response to: Oscar Eduardo
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If you must, you mention title, and nothing else.
Elodie

Posts: 698
Registered: 03/23/14
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 10:28 AM   in response to: Oscar Eduardo in response to: Oscar Eduardo
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Use italics for song titles, and people will often recognise the title. If you want to go a step further (by including 1 or 2 lines of a lyric - just be sure not to use many more!) add song xxx by yyy as used in your book in your copyright page.
Diana Persaud

Posts: 2,550
Registered: 10/07/13
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 10:42 AM   in response to: Oscar Eduardo in response to: Oscar Eduardo
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I would mention just the title.

I don't think using lyrics is a good idea. But if you decide to use lyrics, you need to check with an IP attorney. No one on this board is qualified to dispense legal advice.
Emily Veinglory

Posts: 3,378
Registered: 04/25/13
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 12:05 PM   in response to: Elodie in response to: Elodie
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Even a very small part of the lyrics opens you up to a copyright infringement lawsuit. Just the title is pretty safe.
Salamander Mall...

Posts: 339
Registered: 10/16/17
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 12:26 PM   in response to: Elodie in response to: Elodie
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Elodie wrote:
Use italics for song titles, and people will often recognise the title. If you want to go a step further (by including 1 or 2 lines of a lyric - just be sure not to use many more!) add song xxx by yyy as used in your book in your copyright page.

You can refer to a line in a song if it functions as an alternative to the title (such as Knock Three Times on the Ceiling instead of Knock Three Times), otherwise no. There's no use adding "song xxx by yyy" on the copyright page unless written permission has been secured. Songwriters are more touchy about copyright infringement than anyone else in the world.
thrasherll

Posts: 5,049
Registered: 06/27/12
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 12:46 PM   in response to: Elodie in response to: Elodie
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Titles are not protected by copyright law, but song lyrics are and the "fair use" law doesn't work for songs because even one line from a song can be a large percentage of the lyrics, especially after subtracting the repeated lines in refrains.

L. L. Thrasher

Notjohn

Posts: 22,977
Registered: 02/27/13
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 1:01 PM   in response to: Oscar Eduardo in response to: Oscar Eduardo
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You can't use the entirety of anything, and that includes a stanza of a poem or song. Otherwise, "fair use" does indeed apply to song lyrics. Be aware that nobody has ever defined "fair use." Thus the more fearful writers are, the more they ask permission, which is an admission that permission is required and can be charged for, so it's to every writer's advantage to define "fair use" broadly. In the case of a book, I don't ask permission for quotes totaling less than 500 words, assuming the book is of normal length and the quotes don't include a full chapter or the gist of a theory. In the case of a song, I wouldn't ask permission to quote anything fewer than two full lines, and if it's a song that hasn't been heard for many years, I might go wider than that (but never a complete stanza).

(Don't trust KDP to publish a print edition. Don't trust CreateSpace to publish an ebook.)

Good luck! -- NJ

Notjohn's Guide to E-Book & Print Formatting

The blog:
http://notjohnkdp.blogspot.com
Emily Veinglory

Posts: 3,378
Registered: 04/25/13
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 1:16 PM   in response to: Notjohn in response to: Notjohn
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No one is saying it does not apply, only that even a single phrase can exceed fair use--and record labels like to sue. So the safety zone is much tighter than for prose or even poetry.
Justin Sampson

Posts: 59
Registered: 11/29/15
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 6:20 PM   in response to: Notjohn in response to: Notjohn
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Notjohn usually gives good advice. People won't care if your book isn't some huge bestseller, but I guarantee you if your book makes money and someone finds the lyric you will be successfully sued.

Case law/precedent says that referring to songs/moves whatever by title is fair use. Using even one line of lyric is not. What you have to do is contact the copyright holder and negotiate for it and you'll pay a fee. They will usually ask how many books you expect to sell. If you sell more after a while you may have to renegotiate the fee. But I doubt anyone will notice you if you aren't a book made into a movie and translated into multiple languaes, i.e. huge seller :)
Dave Casey

Posts: 310
Registered: 03/03/16
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 10:21 PM   in response to: Oscar Eduardo in response to: Oscar Eduardo
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I don't know. I'm thinking of using the following couple of lines in a novel I'm writing. My main character fires up an old ham radio and this is what I'm writing.

Josh looked at the lights on the front of the radio and then went blank on what to say. Then he figured to paraphrase his
favorite Pink Floyd song seemed like a good idea.
“Hello. Is there anybody out there?”
Joseph M Erhardt

Posts: 4,458
Registered: 12/21/15
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 7, 2017 4:34 AM   in response to: Oscar Eduardo in response to: Oscar Eduardo
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Just to play Grammar Nazi for the moment, song titles are in quotation marks. Album titles are italicized.

And to emphasize what everyone's been saying: If a song or poem is still under copyright, the only safe part to quote is the title.
Oscar Eduardo

Posts: 7
Registered: 09/18/17
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 9, 2017 9:34 AM   in response to: Oscar Eduardo in response to: Oscar Eduardo
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Hey everybody, thanks for the advice! I am just planning to mention the title of the song, not any part of it to avoid any sort of further problems it could bring.
Nancilee Merczel

Posts: 1
Registered: 08/24/14
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 9, 2017 2:05 PM   in response to: Oscar Eduardo in response to: Oscar Eduardo
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My book takes place in the seventies, so I DEFINITELY needed to mention certain songs to place readers into that time period...what I did was mention a song, such as "I'm your Boogie Man," was playing on the radio (and I always put the song title in quotes... then my character would add something like: "K.C. and the Sunshine Band! I love them!" Of course, my character is twelve, so she's allowed be overly enthusiastic! When I originally wrote the book, I put in actual song lyrics...then I removed them when I learned I could run into legal trouble. It's just not worth it...
Mary Peebels

Posts: 421
Registered: 01/07/16
Re: How to mention songs in my book?
Posted: Nov 9, 2017 3:06 PM   in response to: Nancilee Merczel in response to: Nancilee Merczel
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Nancilee Merczel wrote:
My book takes place in the seventies, so I DEFINITELY needed to mention certain songs to place readers into that time period...what I did was mention a song, such as "I'm your Boogie Man," was playing on the radio (and I always put the song title in quotes... then my character would add something like: "K.C. and the Sunshine Band! I love them!" Of course, my character is twelve, so she's allowed be overly enthusiastic! When I originally wrote the book, I put in actual song lyrics...then I removed them when I learned I could run into legal trouble. It's just not worth it...

That's the method I use. My latest book takes place in the late 1960s, and two characters are walking past a large group of Vietnam War protesters at a college campus. The protesters are chanting, carrying signs, shaking tambourines and pounding on bongo drums. Further down the path, there's counter protesters with signs that defend their side of the issue. One character mentions to her friend that the scene brings to life the words of the song, "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield.
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