How do I get permission to use a quote from Dr. Seuss in a young adult novel to be published?

Asked almost 4 years ago - Stamford, CT

The quote is: "An elephant's faithful one hundred per cent."

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . My other response has disappeared.

    Generally quotes and short phrases aren't copyrightable.

    Your puibisher should have provided you with this information and helped you to "vet" your book, since they'll require you to indemnify them for any violations of copyright, trademark, contract, publicity, privacy rights, etc. If you're self-publishing, or your publisher hasn't done this, then hire your own lawyer to handle any clearance issues.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Maurice N Ross

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Depending on how and in what context you use the quote, you may be protected by the fair use doctrine, which allows limited use of copyrighted materials in a transformational manner for various purposes. If you properly credit Dr. Suess for the quote and if this is the only material that you borrow from a Dr. Seuss book, chances are you will not be deemed to have engaged in a violation of copryight laws. In fact, often, copyright law does not provide protection to short phrases such as this (although this can sometimes be a close question depending on context and various other factors).

    Nonetheless, clearing the use of a quote like this in your young adult novel an be a quite complex and vexing problems. If you have a publisher, your best bet is to work closely with the publisher to deal with this issue. Your publisher will understand that in addition to copyright problems, there may be trademark and right of publicity problems associated with your use of this quote. The your publisher competes with the publisher of books authored by Dr. Seuss, or if your book might be deemed to do so, your publisher will no doubt scrutinize your use of this quote very carefully and take other steps to clear the use, including obtaining permission from the copyright owners in the Dr. Seuss book containing the quotation. In the publishing business, publishers regularly cooperate with each other by granting permissions in situations like this---obviously if you obtain permission it substantially reduces any legal exposure that you have from using the quote.

    If your publisher is not going to handle this for you, or if you are going to "self-publish" , then you should retain legal counsel to obtain the necessary clearances and/or provide you with comfort that your use not violate any applicable intellectual property laws. One thing is certain--you cannot rely on the advice you receive on this internet site to make decisions on issues that are as potentially complex as this one.

  3. Maurice N Ross

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Depending on how and in what context you use the quote, you may be protected by the fair use doctrine, which allows limited use of copyrighted materials in a transformational manner for various purposes. If you properly credit Dr. Suess for the quote and if this is the only material that you borrow from a Dr. Seuss book, chances are you will not be deemed to have engaged in a violation of copryight laws. In fact, often, copyright law does not provide protection to short phrases such as this (although this can sometimes be a close question depending on context and various other factors).

    Nonetheless, clearing the use of a quote like this in your young adult novel an be a quite complex and vexing problems. If you have a publisher, your best bet is to work closely with the publisher to deal with this issue. Your publisher will understand that in addition to copyright problems, there may be trademark and right of publicity problems associated with your use of this quote. The your publisher competes with the publisher of books authored by Dr. Seuss, or if your book might be deemed to do so, your publisher will no doubt scrutinize your use of this quote very carefully and take other steps to clear the use, including obtaining permission from the copyright owners in the Dr. Seuss book containing the quotation. In the publishing business, publishers regularly cooperate with each other by granting permissions in situations like this---obviously if you obtain permission it substantially reduces any legal exposure that you have from using the quote.

    If your publisher is not going to handle this for you, or if you are going to "self-publish" , then you should retain legal counsel to obtain the necessary clearances and/or provide you with comfort that your use not violate any applicable intellectual property laws. One thing is certain--you cannot rely on the advice you receive on this internet site to make decisions on issues that are as potentially complex as this one.

  4. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Please see my response to your other question.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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