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using quotes from a play?

662 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Sapphire
Is it okay if I use a few lines of from a monologue in a play as part of my book?
The play is Gypsy (played on screen by Natalie Wood).
Or would I need to get permission for something like that?
Thanks for any input on this.
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
You need permission.
I had a similar question, so I'll stuff it in here.

What if the work is out of copyright? Or an out of copyright work that has been recently translated? (I'm thinking Tang dynasty poems with a 1990's translation.)
No comment on the quoting, but KG, your sig (The well this looks productive part...) gave me a good laugh.  Thanks  :D
KGorman, I'm not sure, but I would think the translation is copyright too. So the original poems that are out of copyright would be fine, but the translated version copyright 1990 wouldn't be.
Echo75 said:
KGorman, I'm not sure, but I would think the translation is copyright too. So the original poems that are out of copyright would be fine, but the translated version copyright 1990 wouldn't be.
That's what I suspected. Thanks! Maybe I'll have a go at translating them myself.

@Madeline: Thanks!
G
The quantity matters. Nobody in their right mind is going to create a ruckus because somebody quotes a few line, otherwise every piece of fiction that uses popular quotes from other pieces of media would have to go through lengthy negotiations (and they don't). If you have a character or the narrator quote a few lines that's okay, but it shouldn't be more than a paragraph, tops. It's not academic writing where you have to source everything, but it gets problematic if you go past that point.
Actually SPBreit, unless you're quoting it for review or study (e.g. in a thesis) you do have to get permissions. Big publishers do this all the time. Even for a single quote. There is no "fair use" of copyright for commercial material products.
G
Echo75 said:
Actually SPBreit, unless you're quoting it for review or study (e.g. in a thesis) you do have to get permissions. Big publishers do this all the time. Even for a single quote. There is no "fair use" of copyright for commercial material products.
Well, seems I've learned something again today.
:) Most other authors are quite gracious about it, and some will let you quote from them free of charge if you ask permission. Others charge a couple of hundred bucks. Song lyrics can be ludicrously expensive, so I would caution authors never to use song lyrics unless they're out of copyright (life of the author + 70 years) or unless the author has obtained written permission from the artist or the studio.

Permissions are a major pain in the butt for publishers because they're time consuming (a lot of to-ing and fro-ing over some quotes, or it's hard to find the copyright owner in the case of deceased authors who have passed rights to their estate) and they can be expensive.

It's safer just not to do it.
Thanks everyone for the information. I think I'll just not use the quote. I've realized it isn't vital. ;)
When I asked a similar question, last year I was advised to paraphrase instead of quoting.  That works well except for poetry.
Example:
"It came upon a midnight clear." becomes
"It happened right at midnight on a clear, starry night."
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