Percy Chattey Books

Author of Thrillers: Genre: Murder, Mystery & Crime

Copyright – Watch out when writing your thriller!

I stumbled upon an interesting article about “The Top Ten Worst Self-Publishing Mistakes Explained” – it’s worth a read if you are an author that may fall into that category or not!

The one that stuck out for me is No. 9 about quoting lyrics/poems (or other creative works) in your writing… it could get expensive if you have not sought permission to use it. Here’s a snippet from the article ( by Joel Friedlander on July 19, 2010 ).

“9. Everybody knows the words to the song, so it’s okay to quote lyrics from it throughout your novel, right?”

Explained: Check out this blog post about using bits of songs in your writing. The author here found, after using only snippets of 60s songs in a party scene, that he had a liability of over $6,000. Just like paintings, poems, or any creative expression, people’s lyrics and music are protected by copyright law, and violations of this law can be expensive and very damaging. If you want to use it, get permission first.

I am no expert on copyright and in today’s online world and easy access it would be easy to ‘borrow’ a line or two from a song or use a copy of a picture so easily available online. But caution is needed.

Maybe we authors do need to understand copyright more to protect ourselves? I guess cross-border rules may differ but I think the general rules is that if you neither wrote, built or created something that already exists it cannot be your copyright or allow you automatic use elsewhere unless you have express permission or the terms are spelt out in a license agreement. If in doubt check! – I’ll take that as a personal warning too.

Of course we now have a global scale of publishing and surely the sheer volume of posts, articles and books would mean millions of requests for usage (assuming, you can actually track down the creator/owner of the works in the first place). Which in online always connected world dilutes the immediacy of online publishing and blogging.

NOTE: So just in case… I would like to thank, acknowledge and reference the author for the snippet above :


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