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6-5 Song Lyrics, Fair Use & Trademarks

(c) 2010 by Mona Leeson Vanek

Song lyrics are not quotable without direct permission from the copyright holder, and even then you often have to pay for the use. To avoid a possible problem, you need to go to the rights manager of that particular song. Don't use *any* song lyrics without permission. They *will* sue. No sane publisher will let you do it, either.

Publishers have tight rules for songs. Small press publishers refuse to publish stories that include ANY song lyrics due to the cost of obtaining permission and rights.

When you quote lyrics "blah, blah, blah," and then the rest of whatever you're writing. Then make a note at the end and ALWAYS include the publisher:
  • written by xxxxxx
  • originally performed by xxxxxx
  • published by xxxxxx, Inc.
Fair use is pretty restrictive and does not apply to many published materials, including music lyrics and poetry. There's no real definition of fair use for anything--it's what the court says it is, and the plaintiffs have better lawyers than you do.

Don't use Mickey Mouse as a character in your story, either. Disney is famous for prosecuting people, even the ones who don't have any money. Some fanfic is okay, but some is not, and they'll get you if you use the wrong character. Avoid trouble by being very very careful to not infringe copyrights or trademarks!

Chapter 13 - Genre Writing and Writing for Children:

Next: 6-6 e-Zines By The Dozen,

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