Skip to main content

How much of the lyrics of a song is under copyright?

Andover, NJ |

I am trying to use part of some songs without breaking copyright law. What I need to know is if I can use a single verse of a song without using the whole thing. I do not know if I still have to get permission and pay royalties on one line of a song as well as the whole song.

Attorney Answers 4


All of it is copyrighted. To the extent that the lyrics are identifiable and distinct. "I love you" is not a copyrighted as it is ordinary phrase and . The fact that you are TRYING to use someone elses lyric and limit your exposure means that you are probably going to violate copyright law. Further, if there were litigation, this PUBLIC forum inquiry, which has no attorney client privilege would be clear evidence of an intent to violate. If you think you are in a close area, you should be consulting with an attorney who is YOUR attorney and retained by you so that your communication is privileged. THis is not.

Mark as helpful

2 lawyers agree


I agree with my colleague.

Law Offices of J Thomas Smith J.D., Ph.D 11500 Northwest Freeway, Suite 280 Houston, TX 77092 713-LAWYER-2 NOTE: Responses are for the education of the community at large and is not intended to be "legal advice." No attorney-client relationship is established by responses or comments.

Mark as helpful


When using someone else’s copyrighted work in your work, determine what exceptions to the copyright law are available to you so you can use the work without seeking permission. Fair use can be applied in any situation and is the most flexible of all the exceptions. If none of the exceptions apply, then permission is needed in order to use the work. It is always a good idea to request the permission in writing and to retain all the documents associated with the request. Consult an attorney.

This is not a legal advice or solicitation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult an attorney.

Mark as helpful

2 found this helpful


If the lyrics are copyrighted and you use them, in whole or in part, you are obligated to get permission from the copyright holder and contract to use them.

Mark as helpful

Entertainment law topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics