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Customer Discussions > Kindle Book forum

Using song lyrics in a story....

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Showing 1-25 of 36 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 25, 2012 3:21:44 PM PDT
Karah says:
I know song lyrics are obviously copyrighted, but what is the rule on using lyrics in a story. If we give obvious copyright credit for them, etc. I've looked through rules and regulations and everything, but wondered if anybody else had any insight into this?


Posted on May 25, 2012 3:24:21 PM PDT
Giving credit doesn't count. You definitely need to get permission from the artist/copyright holder.

Posted on May 25, 2012 3:41:45 PM PDT
Karah says:
Ahhh, thanks! That's what I figured, but I wanted to double check. But it's okay to mention a song in passing, like, for example "(name of song)" played on the radio as say a couple danced or something?

Posted on May 25, 2012 4:56:16 PM PDT
Splinker says:
I have one line of lyrics in my story and i will probably be removing it. Not worth the hassle to e.

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2012 5:00:51 PM PDT
Ms. P. says:
You can mention the name of a song. Titles can't be copyrighted. Any part of the lyrics, though, gets into dangerous territory, and there is almost no "fair use" because a song is so short, that any excerpt tends to make up a significant percentage of the text.

Posted on May 25, 2012 5:04:59 PM PDT
Splinker says:
Feel free to parody them if that works for you.

Posted on May 25, 2012 5:08:23 PM PDT
someguy says:
I think I read somewhere that there is a set royalty, depending I think on how much of the song is quoted, that must be paid to the person who holds the rights to the song. So, in other words, if it's not completely necessary for the book, it might be more hassle than it is worth.

Posted on May 25, 2012 6:05:18 PM PDT
I was struggling with this same question a while back working on a sequel and decided to use an old song that is past copyright laws.

This goes with Bible versions also, you have to get permission. I just used King James Version so no permission was required.

It's good to know that titles can't be copyrighted.

Posted on May 25, 2012 7:30:24 PM PDT
Karah says:
Thanks guys! Really appreciate it!

Posted on May 25, 2012 7:55:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 25, 2012 7:56:08 PM PDT
Doesn't this sort of question belong in the MOA forum? This is a forum about Kindle books, not business practices.

ETA: Yeah, I know. A waste of my time mentioning it, but didn't want you all to think I was asleep.

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2012 10:03:12 PM PDT
Karah says:
Sometimes I don't think I can win for losing with posting around here. The MOA section seems to be people pimping out that work or introducing themselves. I simply had a question. Maybe their should be a "business practices" forum.

Posted on May 26, 2012 2:30:23 AM PDT
Cypher Lx says:
I was doing the same kind of research, Presley. There is this huge legal issue that you have to get around before even considering publishing a book with song lyrics. You basically have to find out exactly who holds the copyright, get permissions, and then pay them royalties from whatever you make on the book. Essentially, this could mean you make nothing on your own creation. So unless you just want to publish and get absolutely nothing out of it other than people knowing your name, it's not worth it.

Posted on May 26, 2012 2:38:26 AM PDT
' line of Oasis's "Wonderwall": £535...'

An interesting piece on this very subject:

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 6:24:31 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 26, 2012 6:26:50 AM PDT
Maybe there should be, but until there is, your business practice questions should be in the MOA forum. This is a forum for Kindle book discussions.

How is that not clear?

ETA: You know, you could start a forum about business practices. Or start a thread in the MOA about business practices. Or you could continue to post in the Kindle book discussion forum and annoy potential readers.

Posted on May 26, 2012 6:42:47 AM PDT
Splinker says:
It isn't worth it. I'm in the process of removing one line that snuck in through final edits (don't tell Freddie Mercury).

Posted on May 26, 2012 6:44:41 AM PDT
Splinker says:
Related question.

What about parody? I have a few chapters that start off with lyrics by the Undead Brothers ("Lord I was born a shambling man) and a few other similar spoofs. I believe these should be okay because parody doesn't violate copyright laws, but I would like to be sure. Anyone know?

Posted on May 26, 2012 7:34:52 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 8, 2012 7:24:19 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 7:37:33 AM PDT
Splinker says:
But, as someone pointed out, the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work may always be too large, given the shortness of most songs.

Besides, there is what is legal and there is what is litigated. Who wants that headache?

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 8:06:03 AM PDT
Well, according to the article you've listed @

'... The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission...'


'...The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot give this permission...'

There is a difference between using extracts for a review, and using them in an 'original' creative piece. From the above, I'd agree with Splinker.

I also gave the wrong link in my earlier post. This is the correct one to the original article in the Guardian Newspaper:

Apologies to Kno, because I know (no pun intended!) this is not a subject that interests you. However I do think it is part of the general sphere of book discussion, and isn't solely of interest to writers. (Much the same, in fact, to another thing that has always intrigued me, which is the accidental use of real people's names in novels. Somthing for another thread though!)

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 8:31:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 26, 2012 8:34:31 AM PDT
Oh. So that explains why this Announcement is stickied to the top of this forum:

Initial post: Oct 6, 2009 8:49:45 PM PDT
Amazon Kindle Customer Service says:

The Kindle Books forum is the place to discuss Kindle Books with other customers.

And this topic is a discussion of Kindle Books or is this topic a discussion of authors' business practices ?

I've long since given up trying to direct traffic because you authors are so self-important that you can't comprehend that many readers are not interested in the how-to of writing books. If the reader is interested, he knows that he can find plenty of that in the MOA forum. Since you're so positive that this is interesting to readers, please point out which of this thread's participants are NOT authors.

Posted on May 26, 2012 8:53:43 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 8, 2012 7:24:20 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 8:55:54 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on May 26, 2012 9:00:55 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 8, 2012 7:24:20 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 9:16:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 26, 2012 9:25:53 AM PDT
anyone taking legal advice from this man....

Oh, never mind.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 9:27:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 26, 2012 9:28:37 AM PDT
Well, I kind of half agree and half disagree! It's certainly not about Kindle books, but it is about books. The article I quoted was in the books section of a major national newspaper, so obviously they thought it was of interest to their literary minded readers. And I shared that view. However, I agree that this discussion does seem to have been dominated by people who may once, or at some time in the past, have been writers. So, it looks it isn't as interesting to readers as I thought. Sothere you go - you're right, I'm wrong!

Thing is though, Kno, I think it's really upsetting that there is this 'war' going on over here. I can see how it started, but it seems to have got to the point where the irritation at spammers has turned into a kind of prejudice against anyone who ever picked up a pen, which is a bit of a shame really.

The trouble with the MOA, is that some people think it's exclusively for promotion, so it's difficult to have a discussion without someone sometime popping in with the inevitable plug. My own view is that there should be a promotion forum simply for promotion - and nothing else, and it should be outlawed everywhere else. Then maybe we could all get back to talking to one another as individuals. What do you think?
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Discussion in:  Kindle Book forum
Participants:  13
Total posts:  36
Initial post:  May 25, 2012
Latest post:  May 26, 2012

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