The Joys (and Pitfalls) of Self-Publishing Part 2
Copyrights. If you are writing a book, poem, or anything else that might be published with an eye toward making you some money, you must NOT forget to be careful of copyrighted material. In my case, I was very nearly done in by song lyrics. I hadn’t stop to think about them being copyrighted at first, and when I did, I was so glad I checked it out. This is a very short post just to remind you writers out there that not one line of lyrics from any song published after 1922 can be used in your publication without express permission from the songwriter or record company that owns the rights to the song. Anything written before 1922 is considered Public Domain, and you can use it without fear.
The same law applies to dialog from most movies. Tread very, very carefully here, lest you get a letter from an attorney one day, notifying you that you are being sued for a percentage of your profits. And obtaining permission is something a self-published author might have a very hard time doing. It is usually best handled by lawyers from the bigger publishing firms, I’m told, and not something we independent authors are likely to have any luck obtaining.
On the plus side, most song titles are not copyrighted, so you can refer to them. You may mention what the song is about, indirectly, with care. But you may not quote an actual line or phrase. I found out in the nick of time, so I figured I’d warn those of you who haven’t given this any thought. A word to the wise, as my granny used to say. 🙂
And just remember that the same law that prohibits you from using someone else’s work, also protects you from someone else using yours. So it all evens out in the long run.