Can I publish song lyrics in my book?

Asked over 3 years ago - Arlington, MA

I am quoting a line in a song, (3 different occasions) in my book, I am only talking about a song that someone played back on their computer: i.e. I hear him begin to play the famous line "Song lyrics here..."

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Erika Castillo

    Contributor Level 7

    Answered . You can quote a song as long as you state who the song belongs too.

  2. Marvin Cable


    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . You MAY reproduce without crediting the author since your use of the lyrics are so minimal, and you are NOT reproducing the lyrics in a way that harms authors or society's pursuit of useful arts.

  3. Daniel Nathan Ballard

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . You may lawfully reproduce in a book one line from the lyrics of a song without infringing the copyright in the lyrics [even if you reproduce that line three times]. You are NOT required to note in the body of the book or on its credits page who wrote the line or who owns the copyright in the song's lyrics.

    The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and... more
  4. Esmond Jude Lewis

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . Without question, use of lyrics belonging to someone else is per se infringement. The issue is whether the use is so minimal that it constitutes a "fair use" or whether it is so substantial that it requires permission from the copyright holder. Courts have set up a four part test to consider whether use of a copyrighted work is a fair use. The four factors are: the purpose and character of your use; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and the effect of the use upon the potential market. It is difficult to determine whether your specific use without considering the above factors and understanding how much of the lyrics you are using. The easy solution might be to contact the publisher and ask for permission. That way you would not have to guess about whether your use constitutes infringement.

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