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Resource Copyright Question


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I just completed the lyrics for a new song. I used two lines of poetry from one of my friends, a freelance writer, and I have her written permission to use them. The fourth verse is one couplet from an ee cummings poem. I had to alter a couple of words in order to fit the rhythm of the poem to the rhythm of the song. I plan to credit the sources in the liner notes.


My question, is it legal and proper to credit the original writers and leave it at that, or should I contact cummings business manager and ask permission? Is this something I would have to pay a fee for, and can I do this through an agency (if one exists)? Would this be considered sampling? I'm sure others have used anothers' poetry in their music, so I would love to hear how the process works. Thanks

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The short and unhappy answer.... if the material is under copyright, you can't use it without permission.


I have no idea how to go about contacting a poetry clearinghouse for clearance. The Harry Fox Agency does it for most musical pieces. I you contact a business anager or lawyer, you're probably asking for a small thing to be made into a really big deal. I'd say that when you are about to record the song for your first major release on a major label, I'd get the proper clearances. Otherwise, it might be prudent to just let sleeping dogs lie.


I am a strong proponent of copyrights and intellectual property rights. But I don't see any advantage to anybody involved for you to chase this down, unless the process interests you. (And that might be fun, in and of itself.)


If it does, http://www.geocities.com/una_sorella/propoetry/

holds the rights to at least some of his works. Probably couldn't hurt to ask.



"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."


Steve Martin


Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.



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