Obtaining Copyrights on Song Lyrics for a Book – Copyright Problem

Friday, April 28, 2006


So here's my dilemma. I have a book I am attempting to get published. Sounds simple right? Eh. A bit. HOWEVER, here's the problem.

I have approximately five songs that I want to use in the book, but I don’t even know where to start trying to get the copyright info. Can ANYONE give me advice on how I should go about doing this?

I would appreciate it. Thanks.


How will you use the songs? References and quotes are fairplay; you don't need permission to use them. I'm assuming you're talking lyrics here, though sheet music has the same rules. If you wish to quote the entire song, you may still be okay. Typically, borrowing artwork for the purposes of creating new artworks is legal (if not always ethical) - Us3 (or was it Diggable Planets?) aside.

Your publisher or agent should be able to provide you with specific advice on whether or not to consult a lawyer and/or the musician’s agents.

How are you using the songs?

Explanation of Question:

I am using the songs for quotes. I only use one full song. They are used as in

Bob sat back with his headphones on. The eighties pop sounds of The Outfield allowed the world to melt away.

"Josies on a vacation far away
come around and talk it over"

they spoke to him. Bob just simply identified with the lyrics...."

Something like that. Plus, I don’t have a publisher yet. I'm just trying to cover all my bases.


The only one I'd be worried about is the full quote. Try googling ASCAP or other recording artists' websites for usage information. Also you could google .gov sites for copyright information.

Good luck on your book!