Song titles and lyrics


Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2007
Wasn't convinced this was the appropriate forum, but it seemed to be the one that matched the most.

Basically, I was wondering what the deal is with song lyrics and titles in books. Am I allowed to mention artists by name - Elvis, for instance? What about song titles? What about a line of lyrics?

It's just something that might work in my novel (only one or two mentions, and one song line is already a part of the story), but I'm wondering if this sort of thing makes copyright difficult.



Unregistered User
Jul 13, 2007
Names cannot be copyrighted, so feel free to mention whoever you want.

Lyrics are definitely copyrighted material and you will want to make sure your publisher is aware that you use them.

The way fair use works in the U.S. is based, partially, on the amount used in relation to the total work. There's not hard guidelines on that, though, with judges basically making the determination. Any part of a song or poem would be considered an essential part of the whole, though. (Even if it were a book I'd assume a publisher would get permission even if it might fall under fair use.)

Also, translated works of public domain items are also protected under copyright (so long as the translation falls under the other rules of copyright.)


Well-Known Member
Mar 20, 2005
Well, I instantly thought of Dreamcatcher by Stephen King when reading your post. It's the only book so far where I have seen printing authorizations in the back.
Throughout the book he uses the texts of severall songs.

The text in the back for one of them goes as follows:

"Scooby Doo Where Are You" by David Mook and Ben Raleigh © 1969 (renewed) Mook Bros. West & ben Raleigh Music Co. All rights reserved o/b/o Mook Bros. West in the United States, administered by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. All rights reserved o/b/o Ben Raleigh Music Co. in the United States, administered by Wise Brothers Music LLC. All rights for the world excluding the United States controlled by Unichappel Music, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Warner Brothers Publications U.S. Inc., Miami. FL 33014

That does not really answer your questions but it might give you a clue what you have to look for if you want to use the text of a song with copyright on it.

Hope it helps. :)


Well-Known Member
Jul 4, 2007
Quoting lyrics is a real minefield. You need to get permission from the copyright holder and while they may be cool about it and say 'go ahead', they may not and ask for crazy amounts of money.
Don't go there, it is more trouble than it is worth.

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