|We love musician biographies and memoirs. |
(One of our favorites is Playing the Bass
With Three Left Hands by Will Carruthers.)
Dear Rich: My non-fiction historical biography of a musician examines each album, song, and concert, in a review/analysis format. What are the fair use guidelines for lyrics? Can I use two lines? What if I need to use three lines? Also, what are the legalities regarding tweets inserted to clarify points that I am making in the biography?
If you're using the lyrics for purposes of criticism and commentary and you’re only reprinting two or three lines, you can rely on fair use as a defense. (Caveat: The copyright owner can still sue you, but you would prevail in the lawsuit.) If you’re inclined to seek permission, the fees for reprinting lyrics in a book are not fixed. (We've provided a "lyric permission" letter in our permissions book). You can research song owner information at Harry Fox or check Hal Leonard, a company that often grants print permissions.Reproducing tweets. Copying individual text tweets is unlikely to trigger a lawsuit unless the tweeter can demonstrate sufficient originality and creativity to qualify for copyright protection (a difficult task when considering the brevity of tweets). You’re more likely to run into problems when reproducing long threads of tweets or if you post a collection of tweets by one person. This article provides the basics on tweets and copyright.