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#441875 - 12/01/17 11:17 AM [Songwriting] Copyright Question advice required!
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi All,
The question I hope you can shed some light.I have looked on line alot and cant get a definite answer.
Can I use a movie qoutation in a song?or is it copyrighted
Can I use a movie name as a song name?or is it copyrighted
If they are copyrighted can I re-jig the qoute or name around not to be an exact copy but still get my point accross.
For instance Deep Blue Something had a song "Breakfast at Tiffanys" Link below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ClCpfeIELw

Did they have to get copyright permission off the owners?
Hope you can help Hugh

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#441910 - 12/01/17 01:30 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
dcuny Offline
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Registered: 09/27/10
Posts: 2319
Loc: Sacramento, California
A movie quote is part of a copyrighted work, and is protected under that copyright.

A movie or song name is generally not copyrighted because by itself it is too short to be considered an independent work, but it may be trademarked.

Here's a good article that does a good job explaining what can be defended under "Fair Use", which notes:

Originally Posted By: Bradlee Frazer, actual lawyer
Anytime you use any third-party content without permission (including quotes), you run the risk of getting sued.

How the title or quote is used in the song will determine how valid Fair Use is as a defense. The article lists the four factors considered in Fair Use are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
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#441913 - 12/01/17 01:45 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
JohnJohnJohn Offline
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Registered: 06/25/12
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And remember...you can be sued for anything. And if you don't fight it you lose. But, you usually only need to worry if you have a hit. 99.99% of us have nothing to worry about!


Edited by JohnJohnJohn (12/01/17 01:45 PM)

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#441915 - 12/01/17 01:53 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
Noel96 Offline
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Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 13439
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Hugh2
Hi All,
The question I hope you can shed some light.I have looked on line alot and cant get a definite answer.
Can I use a movie qoutation in a song?or is it copyrighted
Can I use a movie name as a song name?or is it copyrighted
If they are copyrighted can I re-jig the qoute or name around not to be an exact copy but still get my point accross.
For instance Deep Blue Something had a song "Breakfast at Tiffanys" Link below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ClCpfeIELw

Did they have to get copyright permission off the owners?
Hope you can help Hugh


Hugh,

Copyright laws also vary from country to country. You'll need to check those laws that appropriate to where you live.

Regards,
Noel


_________________________
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#441929 - 12/01/17 02:33 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: dcuny]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi Dcuny,
Great Article,Im trying to digest it.Thanks for the link.urs Hugh

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#441930 - 12/01/17 02:34 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: JohnJohnJohn]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Thanks John,
A hit whats that lol
Hugh

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#441947 - 12/01/17 04:00 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
edshaw Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 10/09/16
Posts: 329
Loc: Colorado
Normally, use of a bit or piece of a known work is permitted for illustration of education. Example, to write,
1) "Remember the great line from the movie, "Casablanca," "Here's looking at you, Kid." It was one of Bogart's most memorable lines."
--------
Even though the line may not have been original at the time, the fair use of the line for literary, journalistic or educational purposes (the operative word) would likely hold up, today. What you don't want to do is to try to pass it or its usage off as your own.
-----------
2) As a rule, titles cannot be copyrighted.
-----------
Here again, as JJJ suggest, let caution be your guide when stepping on the big boys' lines. They don't play fair, those big boys. (One reason for that is that many of them make their livings stealing other people's material.
-----------
With respect to the video, my impression is that the group was intentionally pushing the envelope in several directions, demonstrating that New York, as a media and entertainment center, is basically finis. (Meaning, years ago, you wouldn't dare run and gun around Manhattan.)


Edited by edshaw (12/01/17 04:09 PM)
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#441952 - 12/01/17 04:26 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: edshaw]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi Ed Thanks
Its a tricky one!Their doesnt seem to be a definite answer until ur sued!
I dont want to get the demo track sung until I know my wording isnt going to upset anyone is where im at,urs Hugh

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#441960 - 12/01/17 05:28 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
edshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/09/16
Posts: 329
Loc: Colorado
Another way of saying, Hugh, that each case (with the exception of
flagrant violations) is to be judged on its own merits.
Here again, there is a reluctance on the part of creators to
post the particulars of individual events or cases in question.
The forum members are not likely to want to dispense legal advice.
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#442119 - 12/02/17 12:58 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
Guitarhacker Offline
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Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5735
titles to songs and movies and such thing are not protected by copyright. So feel free to reuse any of those you wish.

How many different songs all have the title HEARTBREAKER... look it up. Zepplin, Pat Benatar, Pink, Maria C,,,,, and a bunch more all have totally different songs with that name.

As far as using a line from a movie.... yeah, that's copyrighted BUT.... it's also in many cases, everyday speech. If it's a classic line.... Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn, or something else like that.... be careful using it. Personally, I'd try to be more creative and write my own line or at the very least alter it so it's not a carbon copy of the original.
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#442142 - 12/02/17 01:55 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: edshaw]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi Ed,
Thanks again.I'd like to post the exact line and would love to hear an opinion whether its legally accurate or not'
So I made a very catch piece of music with BIAB about two years ago and have the backing track finished,
So its a seasonal song and I called it "Its A Wonderful Life" as the movie was in the public domain or so I thought!It was in the public domain and then through a congress act it went back into copyright as it derived from a short story that was always copyrighted.So I thought then that was that but seemingly it may not be copyrighted but the company its owned by have TV rights over it.In theory a the film could be chopped in changed and new music put to it and thats ok,
The song is a protest Christmas song, which basically lampoons the idea of its a wonderful life and Im not as concerned over the title but I have the line "everytime an angel gets its wings,a bell rings" which is not the original line .The original line is everytime a bell rings an angel gets its wings which could be a similar idea.The title could be changed to What A Wonderful Life without effecting the idea of the song.The line from the song has been used before in another song,
urs Hugh

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#442149 - 12/02/17 02:06 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Guitarhacker]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi Guitarhacker,
thanks for the info,yeah the line im using wont fit in the way its been said in the movie so I cant use it anyway in that form,
How far I wonder of a change does it have to be before its not a copyrighted line? and am I just expressing an idea and so not under copyright if I change it.
As for the creative side the rest of the song has very unusual,original lyrics protesting its a wonderful life idea a bit like Greg Lakes Christmas song I Believe In Father Christmas.
So thats the complete story and any opinions legal or not,incorrect or correct are welcome,urs Hugh

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#442510 - 12/04/17 05:35 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
Guitarhacker Offline
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Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5735
Originally Posted By: Hugh2

How far I wonder of a change does it have to be before its not a copyrighted line? and am I just expressing an idea and so not under copyright if I change it.



That, my friend, is why they have courts, judges, and juries... to officially answer that question for you. But unfortunately for you, after the fact.


Edited by Guitarhacker (12/04/17 05:35 AM)
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#442608 - 12/04/17 12:18 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Guitarhacker]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Herb,
Guilty ur honor,
You can have a whip around to pay for my defence!lol

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#442610 - 12/04/17 12:23 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
dcuny Offline
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Registered: 09/27/10
Posts: 2319
Loc: Sacramento, California
Originally Posted By: Hugh2
So its a seasonal song and I called it "Its A Wonderful Life"...

I'm not a lawyer, but a title that short and generic can't be copyrighted, so it would seem you're on solid ground there.

Originally Posted By: Hugh2
The song is a protest Christmas song, which basically lampoons the idea of its a wonderful life...

In this case, you're referencing the movie by title, and somewhat ironically. This still seems safe to me.

Originally Posted By: Hugh2
...but I have the line "everytime an angel gets its wings,a bell rings" which is not the original line.

If this were a "traditional" saying, there'd be no issue in the first place, since the film wouldn't be able to copyright something in the public domain.

But I've not been able to find it in reference to anything other than "It's a Wonderful Life". In addition to Google, I looked through a number of public domain books of quotations, and got nothing.

So I suspect that the line itself is a creation for the movie. Assuming that it is (and therefore under copyright), does you use fall under Fair Use?

Given the brevity of the quote, the fact that it's in inexact quote, and that the entire song is an ironic commentary of "It's a Wonderful Life", it seems pretty clear to me that you're safe in using it.
_________________________
-- David Cuny
My virtual singer development blog

Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?

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#442733 - 12/05/17 07:04 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: dcuny]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi David,
Thanks for the reply and realizing ur not a lawyer but the logic of the use is what I think is right.Dont want to take someones else's original idea but I want to question it in song form (Christmas Grouch) and that is Ironic.Looks like I wont get it sung out it time for this year anyway lol Thanks again Hugh

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#442738 - 12/05/17 07:44 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
Guitarhacker Offline
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Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5735
copyright generally applies to exact matches or really really close ones. The more iconic, the greater the leeway in determining the match.

The real fact of the matter is, MONEY. The only way you would face any sort of issue would be if the song made lots and lots of 7 digit kind of money. Since it not very likely that the song would earn even low 3 digit money, I think you're relatively safe using that "not quite exact" phrase that kind of sounds like one from an iconic movie.

Generally, if you're not making money from the song, you get a letter demanding that you cease and desist, or they ask YouTube to remove it. It's only when there's a fair amount of money being made that the letter says "see you in court".


I'm not a lawyer so take that advice at your own risk.
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#442898 - 12/05/17 05:07 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
edshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/09/16
Posts: 329
Loc: Colorado
That's right, GuitarHacker. I note the Harry Fox Agency responded with a limited You Tube license as a step to help in that area.
https://www.harryfox.com is a must read resource.
With respect to the question:
"How far I wonder of a change does it have to be before its not a copyrighted line? and am I just expressing an idea and so not under copyright if I change it."
The answer involves, among other qualifications, changing the material 15%. There's a ball of wax to keep you occupied for a spell !
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#443462 - 12/07/17 08:26 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
Sundance Offline
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Registered: 05/30/08
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Google the lyrics to Bertie Higgins Key Largo. smile
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#443597 - 12/08/17 11:33 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: edshaw]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi
15% lol you have to love it,urs Hugh

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#443598 - 12/08/17 11:34 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
David Snyder Offline
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Registered: 08/29/14
Posts: 4029
Loc: North Carolina

Yeah, this one is weird.

Under copyright law, I can write a song called Breakfast at Tiffany's (@Holly Golightly--it's "Tiffany" sweetheart, and OMG you just wore white after Labor day), or Sweet Home Alabama, or even Hey Jude, and be just fine, but if I use a line from those songs or the movie, I can go to jail.

That makes a lot sense.

Oh, well. Guess I will get back to my new song, Tangled Up in Blue.
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#443599 - 12/08/17 11:35 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Guitarhacker]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi Guitarhacker,
Im pretty safe then,urs Hugh

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#443600 - 12/08/17 11:36 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: David Snyder]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Tangled up in blue ....that could be a hit

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#443601 - 12/08/17 11:37 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Sundance]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi Sundance,
I will do thanks Hugh

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#443602 - 12/08/17 11:40 AM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 227
Hi Sundance
I get it now!lol

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#443876 - 12/09/17 04:53 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
edshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/09/16
Posts: 329
Loc: Colorado
I'll say one more little thing.
We take it we can copyright anything made in Band in a Box, if it is our own. Chrod progressions cannot be copy righted.
What I want to say is that in today's climate, most of us are much more concerned with some sharks coming along to challenge our rights than with our taking someone else's thought and making money with it.
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#456713 - 02/09/18 09:10 PM [Songwriting] Re: Copyright Question advice required! [Re: Hugh2]
ManInTwoSocks Offline
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Registered: 02/09/18
Posts: 12
Loc: Los Angeles, Cauliflower
Prepare yourself to be unquestionably and unequivocably
shocked, because the songwriter who has used more film
dialogue in his songs than any other songwriter is none other than...
Bob Dylan!
You can read all the gruesome details about this in the
book The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia by Michael Gray in the
section called Film Dialogue. But just because Bob Dylan
managed to get away without being sued does not mean that
someone else will be able to, so please err on the side of caution.

And there is a website that has all the film quotes used by Dylan listed by film here:
Dylan Film Quotes

Now, @dcuny mentioned, eruditely albeit succinctly, a very
important point that you need to know about in order to
protect yourself from being sued. He mentioned:
Trademarks.
You can be sued if you use, even in just your title, a word or
phrase that has been trademarked.

Back in the serendipitous, sagacious 70s i wrote a song
about Dr. Doom, the villian
from the Fantastic Four comic books. I wasn't sure if it was
legal to write a song using a character from a comic book, so
i called up the Songwriter's Guild of America in the hopes i could find out if it was legal or not.

I was pleasantly surprised that the man who answered the phone
gave me the answer to my question, although i was very
unpleasantly surprised to hear what he had to say.

He explained that it was very probable that the Dr. Doom character
had been trademarked and that i could be sued for using his name in a song.

So, you CAN be sued for using, even only in the title of your song, a word or phrase that has been trademarked. Now, in most cases, only characters in films that are part of a series will be trademarked.
Some examples are the Star Trek, Star Wars and Matrix movies
However, even with movies that are not part of a series you have to be careful because the movie could be adapted from a book or comic book that has trademarked characters.

Also, it is not a requirement that your song make mucho moolah in order for you to be sued for a bajillion dollars. There are two types of damages.
One type of damage is called compensatory damages and tnat refers to the amount of financial loss somelne could incur as a result of you copying from them. The other type of damage is called punitive damages and it means that
they have cried themselves to sleep every night as a result of you hurting their feelings by copying them, and for that they can sue you for a tremendous amount of money even if your song sells just a few copies.

In other words, let's say you write a song called Breakfast At Tiffany's.
You may not be aware that the film studio that owns the rights to that movie has trademarked the film's title, and the name of Holly Golightly, just in case they might someday make an adaptation of the film. So, you can't be too careful.

That's all i have to say about the legal aspect of this, but i do want to mention the creative aspect and how other folks may perceive you.

Whenever i see a song title that does reference some otber movie or book or song,it turns me off.
The reason is it makes me feel the songwriter is trying to piggyback on someone else's creativity. While Bon Dylan did get away with it for a long time it eventually came back to haunt him when he was exposed, and Joni Mitchell even risked enduring the wrath of many people when she called him a plagiarist and a fake

So, maybe Bob Dylan could get away with it and still have his
reputation as an extremely important innovator remain intact,
but the rest of us are not Bob Dylans and i consider it very important that we exhibit our own creativity and not piggyback on the creativity that others have used in their creative works.

Well, that is just my two cents worth, and i hope you heed my sage advice about always being creative instead of piggybacking on the creativity of some Paperback Writer and don't be someone who is just shamelessly appealing to the man with the foolish grin who's keeping perfectly still instead of riding in mansions of glory in suicide machines that used to laugh about everybody that was always hanging out.....

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