Music Makes the Heart Beat Faster – Chapter Nine on Self-Publishing
Music isn’t a separate entity from our lives, at least not for most. Its tendrils weave and coil their way through our subconscious minds and a particularly personal song can bring a goofy grin or a tragic break to a person’s face.
And yet the music industry is the biggest bitch over copyright and the most likely corporate hell-spawn to sue your tiddly ass over some tiny detail. This is problematic for the way I write, particularly in the case of my first novel ‘Dogtooth Chronicals’. It is ‘experiential’ in the style of writing and the various POVs. I believe we don’t experience events and plotlines in our lives separately from the media we absorb ourselves in – from music to films, telly, the internet, books, newspapers. We form opinions and get perspective on our lives through all these things.
Whereas an homage to film dialogue or a quote from a novel as a tiny aspect of a whole piece seems no problem (the hearsay I have is that anything under a dozen words isn’t substantial enough to worry about, but I’ve yet to see this written down anywhere), music is a different matter. Not only do you definitely need permission, but you may need permission both from the songwriter and the record company. And it sounds unlikely they’ll bother to give you permission as well (which if you think of a massive record label and all the sorts of requests they must get, isn’t surprising). Also with quoting other written work, it seems enough to have proof you sought permission (again, hearsay, don’t quote me!), with song lyrics, not so.
The most helpful website I’ve been recommended on this issue is actually written for kids, which is why a dunce like me can’t understand some of it – CopyrightKids
There is also the Intellectual Property Office but I’ve found it difficult to search for specific info on here for my own purpose.
So I’ve had to weed through and remove all the song lyrics in Dogtooth Chronicals, sometimes this just altered a delivery of subtext or emotion, but with other bits I actually feel that something is truly lost. In my primary case this is both the comedy and emotional melancholy of the excerpt. There is little I can do to amend this, save shake my fist at the heavens and curse such silliness.
If you have any recommended links on copyright law, both for music & literature, do share, share, share in the comments.
Over & owt