Question

Adding copyright material into a story?

So, in my story, I want to add a song to it, because it's a theme song for this company (Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk). So, in my story, they even say that Daft Punk made the song, and the lyrics is used at one point, is that enough to get by with copyright? It's been stressing me out because if I want it published, do I have to take it out? Or is that an agents job, to get copyright permission? *sigh* sorry if I sound confusing...i just need to know so I won't waste anytime...

Answers

What cathrl said. You can mention the name of the band and/or the title of the song, because copyright doesn't protect those. You can say that the company uses the song as its theme song. (If a company wanted to do that for real, they'd need to get permission and pay royalties whenever they played it, but since you're just pretending that a made-up company is doing it, that's fine.)

What you can't do is publish a story (for money) that quotes the lyrics or any recognisable piece of them - or not without getting permission from whoever owns the copyright in the lyrics, anyway. This will usually be the band or their record company. They'll probably want paying, too. Depending on what you can negotiate, it'll be a lump sum and/or a royalty for each copy your books sells.

Obviously it's possible to do this, because other books quote song lyrics, but it's usually more trouble and expense than it's worth. Large publishers have people whose job is to get permission to use other people's copyrighted material and negotiate how much it's going to cost. Smaller publishers will usually tell the author to negotiate the rights himself or cut the material. Large publishers might tell a new author to cut the material too, because the time and money they'd have to spend would eat into their profits.

It's not usually the agent's job to get permission, but he might "know people who know people", which might ease negotiations.

#1

You won't be able to write any lyrics, but if you just mention the title of the song and artist you'll get away with it.

#2

You can't use the lyrics. Just take them out. If your story can't work without them, it isn't going to get published anyway. It has to stand on the strength of _your_ work.

You can mention the title.

#3