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PB Idea...copyright question???

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A question for you seasoned writers...can I use lyrics from a girl scout song in my picture book?  I'm writing a story about my grandmother who used to sing it to me.  I don't know if this involves some sort of copyright infringement since the lyrics are not my original words.
#1 - March 17, 2013, 12:54 PM

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What Ann said.  And from what I've heard, it's harder to obtain permission to use lyrics than just about anything else that's copyright protected.
#3 - March 17, 2013, 01:21 PM
AN EYEBALL IN MY GARDEN, Marshall Cavendish Children's Books

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Try Googling the song; if it was published before 1923, there's some chance it might be in the public domain...but maybe not. Here's an interesting article on copyright law involving a very well-known song:
#4 - March 17, 2013, 01:57 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)

Sounds like it's probably the kind of traditional song that may be in the public domain - the author may even be unknown. I'm using lyrics from some popular 60s songs in my upcoming MG novel, and it cost between $65 and $150 for permission to use a couple of lines. It did take some digging to track down the rights holders.
#5 - March 17, 2013, 05:02 PM
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You should do some research to determine if it really IS in the public domain--and if it's not, do NOT approach the Girl Scouts yet. Proceed with the project but understand that if you are offered a contract by a publisher, or decide to self-publish, you will then have to approach them. Some kind of mutually beneficial arrangement might be possible. Or they might demand a share of the royalties.

Don't be too encouraged by Jan's experience--it's one thing to use a lyric as one small part of a novel, and quite another to build an entire text around it. But in any case, don't seek permission NOW.
#6 - March 17, 2013, 05:13 PM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site:

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Can you tell your story without using the actual lyrics? For example, you could have Grandma singing, have yourself recognize the song from Girl Scouts and then use a line of context to imply the lyrics. Suddenly I realized what Grandma was trying to tell me. Lydia would always be my gold friend, but I could make silver friends at my new school.
#7 - March 17, 2013, 10:04 PM
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