Using Quotes (including in Epigraphs)

ratsy

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I'm sure this has been asked before, but short of sifting through a bunch of old threads I thought I would just start a new thread.

For my new WIP I would like to start each chapter with a quote. The first one I want to use is from War of the Worlds by Wells. I know that after so long things become public domain or something like that. Can I use quotes from older works like this with no permission?
 

Ray McCarthy

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If it is in copyright (author's death + 70 years in UK, since 1996, previously 50 years, but I don't know what happened to stuff that had expired after 1976 before 1996), then you need written permission. Usually it's freely given for short extracts of old works even if in copyright. Songs or poems may be different as the percentage of extract is huge.
Copyright expiry on old works isn't the same date in all countries.

H.G. Wells died 13 August 1946, so his work ought to have all been copyright free by August 1996 if the law change hadn't occurred. Even if it isn't free now, it will be next year (August 2016). It may be copyright free already in UK, or perhaps in USA.

Public Domain is different. Stuff can be PD for various reasons before copyright would normally expire. Also works in copyright can be licensed by the Author in various less restrictive ways (Free BSD, Apache, Creative Commons, various GPL versions).

Everything created is AUTOMATICALLY copyright, by Berne Convention, without anyone registering it anywhere despite what the USA thinks and despite changes UK government was trying to bring in to suit Google.

Many of the changes to extend copyright (esp. in USA) are nothing to do at all with the author but to enable Disney etc to continue having exclusivity.
 

Ursa major

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Even if it isn't free now, it will be next year (August 2016).
The 70-year period (the extension to 70 years was made retrospective) begins at the end of the year in which the author died, meaning that H. G. Wells's works emerge from copyright at 00:00 on the 1st of January 2017.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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The quotes at the beginning of a chapter are call epigraphs, ratsy, if you want to do some searching around the internet to get more information about using them.
 

Ray McCarthy

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Carole Blake in "From Pitch to Publication"* says
  • Note sources as you write.
  • Always ask if any doubt at all (in first instance ask the publisher of work you quoting)
  • Pop lyrics might be more expensive than income from the book!
  • Up to 300 words quoted per novel ought to be free anyway.
  • Often permission is free (except pop music)
  • If not free, be clear which markets it's for.
  • @Ursa major She says too it's 70 years after death of Author (for British Authors), but she didn't have the detail you gave.
  • Clear all quotes (not just epigraphs, sometimes there are quotes in a text) before approaching a publisher, or at least know the cost.
  • Author pays, not publisher.
  • All sources must be acknowledged

[* Just finished this useful book borrowed from library, it's 1999, but still in print and a cheaper Kindle version available, even if self publishing it's got ample food for thought]
 

ratsy

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The quotes at the beginning of a chapter are call epigraphs, ratsy, if you want to do some searching around the internet to get more information about using them.

Thanks. I will for sure. I just like to check the think tank first. ;)
 

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