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...
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:
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.....