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Copyright permission

Switch Blayde

I just spent most of the day trying to get permission to use six lines of a song lyric in my novel. I don't know if I'll ever get it. But my eyes are blurry and I'm cranky, so what better place to rant.

Google took me to the ASCAP ACE Database (whatever that is). I entered the song title and singer. It listed three companies. The first one was Brenda Richie Publishing and since the singer is Lionel Richie I thought, "Gotcha!"

I called them but was told to send an email to someone whose email was listed along with the phone number. She responded almost right away. She was a paralegal at a law firm. She said the ASCAP database was hard to use and ensured me that Warner/Chappell Music was the 100% copyright owner.

So I Googled them and called their L.A. office. Left a message, but got no return call. So I called their NY office and was told to call Alfred Music Publishing Co and was given a phone number.

The message at Alfred was to do the request on their website. I filled the form out, but a lot of the information couldn't be put in (company name, price of book, publisher, format (hard copy, soft copy), number of copies, etc.), so I put n/a in those spots. They also wanted a book synopsis. I used that box to tell them what I wanted and why. Then there was another box which I used to show them a sample of what it would look like.

Now I have to wait up to 45 days to find out if they'll give me the permission to use six lines of a copyrighted song.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

G'day Switch,

I looked into this quite extensively some years ago when I wrote 'Out of Reach.' At the time I found out some very important things, which summarise as:

1. You need to identify who you need the copyright from.If you're only using the words you need to look up the lyricist, if the music is by another person you need to know their name, and if using the actual sound recording that's details of the recording artist or company.

2. Having found the correct name you then need to check who is the current copyright holder of that aspect of the song.

3. You need to check your country's copyright laws and identify how much of the copyrighted material you wish to use. Fair Use allows the use of part of copyrighted material without having to apply for permission.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_the_United_States#Fair_Use

If you're using 6 lines out of 10 lines, you have issues, but 6 lines out of 40 lines is less of an issue. The US laws are on this are very fluid in their interpretation and application.

At first glance I think you have a good case for Fair Use but you need to check against what the article above says.

Edit to add: 4. You also need to check if the copyright is current or lapsed. You'd be surprised how many are lapsed, but most music recordings are still current, while the lyrics may be lapsed.
.............

Here in Australia the Fair Use provisions allow for up to 10% of an item as long as it doesn't exceed more than 10% of a chapter in a book. So I have it a lot easier than those in the USA.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

1. You need to identify who you need the copyright from.If you're only using the words you need to look up the lyricist,


When the paralegal said she guaranteed that Warner/Chappell Music had 100% of the copyright, I wonder if she was talking lyrics or the version of the song by that artist. Maybe when I get a response by Alfred Music it will clarify that.

The Fair Use sounded great until I read:

Using a more creative or imaginative work (such as a novel, movie, or song) is less likely to support fair use


and

using even a small amount of a copyrighted work was determined not to be fair use because the selection was an important part—or the "heart"—of the work

Ernest Bywater

I know what you mean. It's because of the those aspects I didn't use a lot of the lines from the song inOut of Reach but just referred to the meaning of the lines. My main problem came about with not being able to make contact with the current holder of the lyrics copyright. The song was still under copyright, but the contact details for the current holder were out of date.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

The first one was Brenda Richie Publishing and since the singer is Lionel Richie I thought, "Gotcha!"

I called them but was told to send an email to someone whose email was listed along with the phone number. She responded almost right away. She was a paralegal at a law firm. She said the ASCAP database was hard to use and ensured me that Warner/Chappell Music was the 100% copyright owner.


When you asked the question did you point out it wasn't the music or the performance you were interested in, but only the lyrics. If you did and she clearly knew that, then the rights may have been sold on.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Switch,

Next time try checking with the US Copyright Office If the copyright is registered, and most commercially published works are registered, that will tell you who the current copyright owner is for a lot less effort.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

When you asked the question did you point out it wasn't the music or the performance you were interested in, but only the lyrics. If you did and she clearly knew that, then the rights may have been sold on.


I told her I wanted to use the 1st 6 lines.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I told her I wanted to use the 1st 6 lines.

TV talk shows frequently want to run the first few lines of a song, as do dramas an other shows. You need to explicitly say, "I only want access to the lyrics". Hell, even if you explicitly state you're publishing a book, they'd have no way of knowing whether there's an associated audiobook, or a Mac multimedia book. Almost anything is possible nowadays.

If your entire job revolves around protecting music from copyright theft--which they see everywhere--then you generally won't even consider the lyrics--which simply aren't your concern.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

TV talk shows frequently want to run the first few lines of a song, as do dramas an other shows. You need to explicitly say, "I only want access to the lyrics".


Actually, if its for a live performance by musicians or an audio recording, it would be a lot easier.

There are two organizations that sell blanket licenses for public performances of music in the US.

ASCAP

BMI

But they don't handle licensing lyrics for print media.

That's why I recommended going to the Copyright Office to check if it's registered. If it's registered, they have a record of who owns the copyright.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Next time try checking with the US Copyright Office


Couldn't figure out the search. Looking for who owns the copyright for the song "Endless Love" so I entered "endless love" as a title and got nothing that looked like it (and almost 1,000 results).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

The song was still under copyright, but the contact details for the current holder were out of date.

Is there anything in the copyright law protecting those who have exhausted reasonable options to request permission and not received a reply?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

I tried looking at the copyright search, even opened up their tutorial. What a nightmare.
However, I did notice it seems the search facility might only include "publications" from 1979 or later.
Allmusic.com lists a 1973 album with 'Endless Love' by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie.
So perhaps an email to 'Contact Us' at the Copyright Office may be the way to go ask how to search for apre-1979 recording.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

"Endless Love"


Wikipedia lists the song as being written and produced by Lionel Ritchie in 1981, and performed with Diana Ross.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endless_Love_(song)

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/l/lionel+richie/endless+love_20083832.html

Endless Love lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Seems they bought it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Ross at Play

Allmusic.com lists a 1973 album with 'Endless Love' by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie.

Sorry, Switch.
I stuffed up somewhere, and don't know what the 1973 date I saw was, but the song was not released until after 1979.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


Endless Love lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.


That's what the paralegal told me. She said Warner/Chappell had 100% of the copyright. Their NY office told me to contact Alfred Music Publishing. It seems that company and one other handles most of the licensing for music copyrighted. So I made the request to the right company. But I was lucky.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Is there anything in the copyright law protecting those who have exhausted reasonable options to request permission and not received a reply?


I don't think so.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Their NY office told me to contact Alfred Music Publishing. It seems that company and one other handles most of the licensing for music copyrighted.


Warner Chappell Music Licensing

Alfred Music Publishing is a sheet music publisher and handles print media licensing for Warner Chappell music. For performance or recording licenses you would have to deal with Warner Chappell directly.

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