Friday, September 28, 2007

Copyright question

Perhaps there's someone reading this who can help me on this. In the book I'm working on, I'd like to include an excerpt of some song lyrics. I've spent a good portion of the day researching copyright law, and all I can find is what's called "Fair Use." Basically it says that I can use an amount that is fair to the creator. Does anyone have a better answer than that for me?


Jim Shannon said...

I've dealt with the "Fair use" issue years ago when I was active on the AGF message board. I still lurk there occasionally.

Fair Use is a good system but as long as your just using a snippet of the lyrics it shouldn't matter.

There's a scene in my current novel where the lead character and a minor character when they first meet. The minor character is taking the lead character away in his pick-up truck and cranks up the music in the cab:

"Bad to the bone, 'cause I'm bad. Bad to the bone."

I'm sure you know the tune. Most of us know where it's from but your not using the audio portion of the song. Fair Use allows you to do that. Amazon has sound bites of a track so you can sample the a portion of that track before you buy.

Of course it's always a good idea to include this in the Acknowledgments section of your novel. I use popular businesses a plenty in my novel and the appropriate acknowledgments will be supplied.

my reasoning for including the everyday in my writing is to juxtapose it against science fiction to make the fantastic seem common place.

Hope that helps.

J Erwine said...

In talking to several pros, it actually sounds like it's a very bad idea to use lines from a song. I'll just have to paraphrase what the song is about, and hope the readers get it.

It's not as powerful as using the lyrics, but it's better than getting sued.