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Lyrics in books

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Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:06 am
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Chimera7 says...

I've seen every once in a while an author place song lyrics (sometimes a line, sometimes several), on a title page or blank page before a prologue or part or chapter. I'm writing something now, and there are a few lyrics I'd love to use, just to kind of set the tone for the story, but I was wondering what copyright restrictions go into something like that. Is it as simple as asking permission, or is there a huge sequence of emails or phone calls and (probably) a fee. If anyone happens to know please tell me!
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Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:38 pm
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Rosendorn says...

Short lines cannot be copyrighted, which would make it you don't need to ask permission. (Although it helps if you attribute it) Also, if a work has gone into public domain and nobody has bought back the copyright so it's out of public domain, then you don't have to worry about it at all.

However, in the case of a larger section of recent lyrics (Ie- not in public domain), then you're dealing with issues. Permission, possibly royalties pay, and legal issues.

Safest bet: take public domain works.
Formerly Rosey Unicorn

A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo

Ink is blood. Paper is bandages. The wounded press books to their heart to know they're not alone.


A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
— W.H. Auden