Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A - Z Challenge [2016]

My Theme: Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers

Q for Quoting song lyrics in a book

Did you know that any song published after 1923 is not in the public domain? Therefore if you are quoting song lyrics in your novel, especially if you use them to create an atmosphere, introduce it as a main scene or go so far as quoting more than a few words from the song, you may be breaking all kinds of copyright laws and you could have major music publishers or collection agencies on your door demanding money or a letter from the copyright owner's lawyer!

You might use song lyrics in all innocence but be warned - you need to seek permission from the appropriate bodies and that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

This is one of the better sites I've found to explain your position as a writer:

The title of a song, or book, come to that are fine. Make up your own lyrics if you must have some!


  1. Copyright can be so frustrating at times - it seems very unfair that you can't quote a single lyric without issue - after all it's not the whole song. If you were throwing in whole bits of a particular version with music and all, that I get, but the odd lyric seems like it should be fair use as long at there is accreditation. Not that I use lyrics, but it's the principle of the thing.
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  2. It's very frustrating but I understand why copyright laws are so strict. Mostly I just invent my own.

    Meet My Imaginary Friends

  3. I just read a book that quoted the song "American Girl" from about 10 years ago. It factored into the plot, but I noticed the author expertly avoided quoting more than one line here, another line there!

  4. Now if only they could protect the artists from cover versions of their songs and, of course, illegal downloads the way they protect them from extra publicity from writers... Good luck with the rest of the AtoZchallenge.

  5. Hello from A to Z, Fran. I suppose if someone wanted to copy a few lines from a book I'd written (just speaking hypothetically, since I'm unpublished), I hope they would abide by the copyright laws too.