Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow. You're always a day away!
-Tomorrow from the musical Annie
Impossible things are happening every day. It's possible!
-Impossible from Rodgesr and Hammerstein's Cinderella
Both of these lyrics appear in published works. One of these authors had to get permission and pay for the use of their lyrics and the other did not. Can you guess which paid?
If you guessed the author who used the lyrics from Annie, you are right!
Author Laurie Larsen talks about getting permission and using the lyrics for her YA novel The Chronicles of Casey V in an interview over at Savvy Authors. Since I actually know Laurie she sent a link out to all of us in her RWA group to this interview. As soon as I read it I kind of did a *headdesk* and mumbled 'Oh crap.'
You may have read my books or you may have not, but if you have you will realize that Alex Bianchi has a thing for Shakespeare and musicals. That is when the *headdesk* started. Could I get sued for using lines from Romeo and Juliet? What about Alex singing Cinderella in book 2?
The answer: It's all about what is public domain and what is not. Quickly I pulled up my internet explorer and started googling, trying to figure out if I needed to contact whoever owned the rights to Shakespeare's works and Rodgers and Hammerstein. I looked up everything I could when I noticed something interesting. Both the works of Shakespeare and Rodgers and Hammerstein are public domain. This means that their intelectual property rights have either expired, been forfeited, or are innaplicable. Which basically means that you can use all the Shakespeare that you want in your writing to your heart's desire! (Okay, maybe not word for word, but you get my point).
There is also work that was created before public domain or copyrights existed that are automatically public domain (i.e. The Bible). If you want to quote the bible in your work then go for it! No need to worry about being sued by the Bible's writers. (If you don't understand that part then we need to have a talk...)
But WAIT, you are thinking, "That's all fine and dandy, but what about Alex's obsession with Dustin Hoffman?"
Ah, yes, Alex does like The Graduate. Am I going to get sued for referencing that? No. I did research on this one as well. As long as I don't act like this is my own work and reference the movie then I'm not claiming to own it, nor would I ever take that joy away from Dustin Hoffman. And...well...I never use the entire quote or I paraphrase it. "Are you trying to seduce me, Miss Bianchi?" And most of these are filed under the "fair use" act.
Do you use movie quotes or lyrics in your writing? Have you ever looked to see if they were public domain? Do you wonder why Alex is singing from musicals in book 2?
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