While doing Q&A at the SandCastle Read-n-Feed the other week, a nice lady asked me about a snippet of song I used in that cute setup chapter where we learn that this blond-haired guy is not from the past currently described.
“Don’t songs have copyrights too?”
“That’s a good question,” I answered. “I’ll have to look into that.”
And I did when I got home. And the shared writing-forum answer is don’t, don’t, don’t, DON’T!!!!
Every blog I read talked about the terrors of being sued, of being raked over the coals for violating copyright. That you should never do this.
And there I am, having apparently done just this, with all those books sold and 60 copies sitting in boxes, ready for the UCF book festival.
Take note of that chill, author-boy. That’s what you’ve written about countless times in the past. And now you’re feeling it.
Friday I contacted a clearance firm in LA, the agencies that search out copyright owners and hammer out an agreement. They are the ones that license anti-establish heavy-metal rap music to sell burgers and sneakers. They asked for my song and usage, and promised to get back to me Monday.
You’ll remember that blog I posted about laying in bed in a pre-down sweat-bath? Of feeling one’s guts churn? Well, that’s where it comes from. I was on edge, freaking out, totally expecting Warner music to bust my ass and burn my book.
I even researched it Monday, looking into Public Domain for this. It looked like it was listed, but no, that was a title from 1906. There have been other popular versions later, some PD, some not. Anyway, the clearance people finally got back to me. It is public domain, so I could use it. Whew. So I’m off the hook. But not so much that I feel safe to even mention the song name in this blog. Don’t rub the law lamp if you don’t want lawyers to come smoking out of it, right?
I even wrote an alternative to that section, one that uses the song without posting its lyrics. Actually, its a pretty nice bit. I might consider someday replacing it anyway, just to make things totally safe. If I do, I’ll share it with you guys, just so you know the change.
As for using a song in a book? Never again.