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Hey everyone!

So I'm working on a new short thriller, and in this story I want to make mention of a few Nirvana songs.
As in, the characters listen to the songs, mention the songs in conversation, etc.

I'm getting some feedback that that may be a copyright issue. What do you all think? If I merely mention a song title and attribute it to Nirvana, would that be a big deal?

Shana
 

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Mentioning the title of the song and the name of a band is covered under the fair use guidelines - you can do that, no problem.

You run into problems if you actually use lyrics inside the book, like a character actually singing a song.

For instance:

Not okay:

James sang, "Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb; Mary had a little lamb, his fleece was white as snow..."

Okay:

James sang the lyrics to Mary had a Little Lamb, unable to shake the words from his mind.

(Of course, the song Mary had a Little Lamb is, to my knowledge, no longer copyrighted if it ever was; however, this is just an example to demonstrate.)
 

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Shanna, There is a concept called "Fair Use" that I think would apply. Basically you are allowed to use a small amount of the music (eight bars I believe) as long as the work is properly referenced. In your case since you are stating that your character is listening to the song and not quoting from it, you should have no issue at all. However, it is absolutely critical that you spell the name correctly and identify it properly. A company I once worked for ran into a problem with a soft drink company for using a slang name for the product. It was all settled amicably, but still, you should avoid brand names if you can.

Bob Cherny
Author of "Seeds of Anger"
http://clublighthousepublishing.com/productpage.asp?bNumb=199
 

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Fair use when it comes to poetry and song lyrics is very strict. The best advice is to err on the side of caution which was Brian's advice. Naming a song and artist is okay, including actual lyrics moves into a grey zone very quickly. The quickest and easiest solution is to just not use the lyrics.

L
 

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BrianKittrell said:
Mentioning the title of the song and the name of a band is covered under the fair use guidelines - you can do that, no problem.

You run into problems if you actually use lyrics inside the book, like a character actually singing a song.

For instance:

Not okay:

James sang, "Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb; Mary had a little lamb, his fleece was white as snow..."

Okay:

James sang the lyrics to Mary had a Little Lamb, unable to shake the words from his mind.

(Of course, the song Mary had a Little Lamb is, to my knowledge, no longer copyrighted if it ever was; however, this is just an example to demonstrate.)
This. According to two editor friends.
 
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