C.A. Deyton said:
My character is reminiscing over her mother while listening to the song "Stardust." I have also listed a stanza from the song. Do I need to get permission for this or could I list the copyright of the song in the back of the book? I also used quoted a few lines from the story Beowulf, but it is so old, I believe it is under public domain at this point. All the copywrite stuff confuses me.
Make absolutely certain the lyrics are in the public domain before you use them without permission/acknowledgement. Check with ASCAP or BMI (Google them, they have websites) to see who owns the copyright to the lyrics. I don't remember which one had the song listed that I wanted to use, but their website informed me that EMI Blackwood owned the copyright. I check their
website and was referred to Hal Leonard Corp, which handles permissions for most published lyrics, regardless of publisher or copyright holder. I got permission for two lines from the lyrics of a popular song and had to pay for it and publish the permission, as written, on an acknowledgement page. Most of the correspondence was by email, but they sent me the permission and a contract to sign via postal mail. They specified this:
Words and Music by David Clayton Thomas
©1968 (Renewed 1996) EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC INC. and BAY MUSIC LTD.
All Rights Controlled and Administered by EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC INC.
All Rights Reserved International Copyright Secured Used by Permission
Here's how the two lines appear in my story:
Troy didn't return the smile and a faint line appeared between his eyebrows.
"What?" Max said.
"Last quarter's preliminary sales report." Troy tapped the printout with a forefinger. "Down three and a half percent."
Max shrugged. "So? Nothing goes up forever."
He drummed a rhythm on the edge of Troy's desk and sang, "What goes up, must come down-"
"Cut it out. David Clayton Thomas you ain't."
If you're willing to list the copyright at the back of the book, you're going to have to find out who holds it. If it's still in effect you'll have to get permission, and perhaps pay for it. It is confusing, but better to wade through it and be compliant than to violate a copyright.