Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Using Lyrics in a Website Logo

Dear Rich: If we would like to use a few lines of a song for a logo that will represent a website or blog logo, is that ok? Traffic to the site is not huge but would like to use it for logo art and if we want to share thoughts on how the song inspired us?  Here are some reasons why you probably won't have to worry about being pursued: (1) If traffic to the site is not substantial, the song owners are unlikely to learn of your use. (2) If the song owners do learn of it, they may not care (unless they find the use offensive). (2) If they do care about it, they probably won't bother to pursue you because a lawyer will likely advise them that you have a fair use defense. (3) If they decide you don't have a valid fair use argument or they want to pursue you for trademark claims, they will likely decide against lawsuit unless they have reason to believe that your pockets are deep. Of course, if the songwriters smell money -- for example, if Facebook, Apple, Amazon, or Google buys your site -- disregard the reasoning, above. Also, because your logo functions as a trademark, to further protect yourself, consider a disclaimer on your homepage stating that the songwriter isn't associated with your site.