Song Lyrics in Fiction – What Writers Need to Know

Creators sometimes find it really tempting to use track lyrics in a story or story. The words of the song are just so powerful and so right that… well, they need to be there. How to Write a Song Lyrics

Should you be considering using song lyrics in your work of fiction, you may want to come up with a backing up plan. Here are some things you should know: 

you and your author may be able to get rights to use the lyrics–or maybe not
it’s probably going to cost you (typically a tiny payment per copy you make, but that can add up)
your author may decide the words to these songs usually are worth the time/effort/money required to use them.
What about ‘fair use’?

Rational Use principles weren’t put in destination to cover hype.

You could claim reasonable use if you were writing, say, a nonfiction piece taking a look at U. S. ethnic shifts over the previous fifty years through the lens of Top-10 song. To write such a piece, you’d plainly need to reference some song. But since you tried to get permission and pay for each and every single song, those barriers would jeopardize your ability to produce the job. Fair use would allow one to quote a few lines from each song which will make your point as you presented your analysis.

Putting lyrics into your fiction is something else altogether.

You’ll read a lot of internet pages online that speak about lyric printing as ‘fair use’, etc., but that’s a stretch of the good use doctrine and completely unreliable when it comes to novels and other works of fiction.

Exactly what is the worst that can happen?

I’m not an attorney. Personally, I think the worst that would probably happen is the reality someone would see you used the lyrics to these songs and file suit to make you pay. You’d have to pay the consumption fees, plus maybe some punitive problems and court fees. Most that could soon add up to a great deal more than it would have cost to get the protection under the law in the first place.

I further think rights-holders’ attorneys’ time would be better spent going after internet sites that publish words and musical arrangements in their entirety.

If you have a bestseller on your hands and make millions, though, you’re heading to be putting yourself into a complete other category of rights violators.

Ought not to the artist or composer be pleased I love their work enough to include it?

Don’t take it personally; it’s business. Artists, unless they published their own songs or bought the rights, avoid really have a lay claim to the lyrics to these songs. The composer does unless he or she sold them all. However the person you need to worry about most in this equation is normally a music publishing company. That company probably paid money for the protection under the law to control publication of those lyrics you want. They’re highly unlikely to get warm fuzzies because you want to use lyrics under their control. Even if they do, they should pay people (such as the songwriter) for that usage.

Bottom range: Lyrics are intellectual property. They’re worth money.

Nevertheless isn’t this like free advertising for them?

In ways… maybe… if your history causes a bunch of folks to rush out and buy the sheet music. But that’s not likely. At best, it might cause readers to buy the song. That’s protected under altogether different rights–performance and recording rights, and so on. Someone, somewhere might be pleased. Depending how things are set up, a little of that money might even trickle to the music publishing company. That prospect, however, is not very likely to cause that company to let you use the lyrics at no cost.

So how much does indeed it cost?

Basically, to use the song, likely to need to enter into a contract with the rights-holder. That company will tell you how much it wants for the consumption you’ve described. A lot of things go into the cost, including the area of the music that you’re planning to use. If you’re only by using a line or two, you could be taking a look at only a few cents per copy you make. Or it could be a lot higher. There generally are different payment schedules for hard-copy vice online use. You won’t really be able to gauge the potential cost until anyone requests.