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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I am considering using quotations at the beginning/end of chapters in a book. Is using quotes, as many books do, considered free and ok because they are in the public domain, or does one need to get permission first from each source?

For instance, if I wanted to use a quote from Erma Bombeck on parenthood or from Jerry Seinfeld on Grapenuts, or from George Washington on cybersex?

Thanks!
 

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If you attribute the quotes peoperly, you don't need permission.
 

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Learnmegood said:
Hey everyone,

I am considering using quotations at the beginning/end of chapters in a book. Is using quotes, as many books do, considered free and ok because they are in the public domain, or does one need to get permission first from each source?

For instance, if I wanted to use a quote from Erma Bombeck on parenthood or from Jerry Seinfeld on Grapenuts, or from George Washington on cybersex?

Thanks!
How do you know that they are "in the public domain"? I can guarantee you that a quote from one of Erma Bombeck's books is not. Do you know what public domain is? Do you know what Fair Use is? Do you really want to be sued?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
JRTomlin said:
How do you know that they are "in the public domain"? You can bet a quote from one of Erma Bombeck's books is not.
I don't! That's exactly why I'm asking.
 

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Learnmegood said:
I don't! That's exactly why I'm asking.
A work in the public domain is no longer under copyright. That would apply to Shakespeare or Dickens. You can pretty freely quote them. US Copyright law grants authors exclusive right to their work which generally expires 70 years after the author's death.

So unless the author has been dead for 70 years you should assume their work is still under copyright; however, there are times when it is allowed to use a non-significant portion of a work.

ETA: Ok, you might get away with merely quoting a sentence or two and claim "Fair Use", but you could also be skating of thin ice if you don't have permission. I'll quote Wikipedia on Fair Use for convenience:

Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship.
Fair use really does not apply to commercial works which mean you are profiting from someone else's work and in court the defendant has the burden of proof. It's a complex area of law that I am certainly not qualified to go into, but I would avoid quoting copyrighted material without the owner's permission since more than one author in this world is fairly litigious. It's not hard to ask for permission or simply use something out of copyright.
 

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In the first draft of my book, I did the same thing, although it was quoting song lyrics instead of book quotations.

After posting about it here and doing research, I removed them before publishing.

Titles, as a general rule, cannot be copyrighted though, so I used them instead.

Good luck!
 

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You would need to obtain permission from each of the copyright holders, if any, to use quotations in this manner. This would not be considered "Fair Use".
 

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This is the wrong place to ask this question.

The only person you should ask for legal advice on this subject is a lawyer who specializes in Intellectual Property law. Here on KindleBoards you will get helpful best guesses, completely uninformed opinion, and prior experiences that may or may not have a bearing on your particular circumstance. If you get a response from an IP lawyer here on KB, I'd either hire that person or use his/her advice to streamline a query for the lawyer of your choice.

The legal implications to your book and your financial well-being are too important to crowdsource.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks DRM, but I haven't written this book yet, it's just an idea in my head. So I'm just trying to get a feel for what people know out there. I would definitely consult with a lawyer or do a lot more research before going forward.
 

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DRMarvello said:
This is the wrong place to ask this question.

The only person you should ask for legal advice on this subject is a lawyer who specializes in Intellectual Property law. Here on KindleBoards you will get helpful best guesses, completely uninformed opinion, and prior experiences that may or may not have a bearing on your particular circumstance. If you get a response from an IP lawyer here on KB, I'd either hire that person or use his/her advice to streamline a query for the lawyer of your choice.

The legal implications to your book and your financial well-being are too important to crowdsource.
Good reminder, and I fall into the bolded portion of the crowdsourcing!
 

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Learnmegood said:
Thanks DRM, but I haven't written this book yet, it's just an idea in my head. So I'm just trying to get a feel for what people know out there. I would definitely consult with a lawyer or do a lot more research before going forward.
Cool. Then you've already been "learnedgood" ;)
 
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If Erma Bombeck has a 40,000-word book, and I find a neat 5-word quote, I'll use it.

That's fair use because it would be such a small piece of the whole.

Even reviewers for the NY Times will pull out book quotes without permission.

Ever see the quote "Make my day" or "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

They are from copyrighted material, but are only small parts of a larger whole.
 

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Okey Dokey said:
If Erma Bombeck has a 40,000-word book, and I find a neat 5-word quote, I'll use it.

That's fair use because it would be such a small piece of the whole.

Even reviewers for the NY Times will pull out book quotes without permission.

Ever see the quote "Make my day" or "Frankly my dear, I don't give a d*mn."

They are from copyrighted material, but are only small parts of a larger whole.
That's not how fair use works. Size matters, but context matters too. A review is different from putting something into your own (potentially) money making piece of fiction.

Read the book.
 

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Learnmegood, are you talking about epigraphs?  Those little snippets of attributed quotation that begin a book or a chapter to "set the tone" for the rest?  If so, as long as you attribute the original author correctly, you can use them, since they are not being presented as your work.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
ElHawk said:
Learnmegood, are you talking about epigraphs? Those little snippets of attributed quotation that begin a book or a chapter to "set the tone" for the rest? If so, as long as you attribute the original author correctly, you can use them, since they are not being presented as your work.
Yes, I'm talking about fully attributed quotes at the beginning and/or end of a chapter.

Also, to those of you who have suggested permission is necessary, how do you go about getting it? I've tried to contact a celebrity or two in my day, and all I've received in return is the sound of tumbleweeds.
 

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Well, you'd need an Oujai Board to contact Erma, so start with her publisher.
 
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