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Copyright question for quotes at beginnings of chapters

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I'm getting ready to query a YA retelling that is based on a rather obscure folktale. Since it's not a folktale familiar to most North American readers, I've decided to quote quotes from the original tale at the beginning of some of the chapters.

But I have a question about querying this and copyright. Although it's a folktale, the version I was thinking of using (a translation) is still under copyright. If I use that, I know I would have to get permission to use it. Do I need to get it before querying? If I sold this, I know I'd need to get it before the book goes under contract. If I don't need to get it before querying, should I mention in the query that I'm planning on getting permission or something like that?

Another option I'm thinking about, since I read and write the language the original is written in, is doing my own translation of it. If I do my own translation, would that be copyrighted under my name or the foreign author?

Thanks so much for your help!
#1 - January 08, 2014, 09:43 AM

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I wouldn't worry about this while querying. You only need permission when the work is published. Depending on the contract, it could be you or the publisher who is responsible for paying permission fees and obtaining permission.

You could only do your own translation if the original work is public domain -- but these are questions for an IP lawyer! I'm not one. But when you get a contract, your publisher's permission department will advise.

#2 - January 08, 2014, 09:55 AM
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 09:57 AM by Kell »
Kell Andrews

THIS OR THAT, Tilbury House, 2021
THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, 2018

Thank you, Kell! That really helps.  :) I won't worry about it right now.
#3 - January 08, 2014, 06:51 PM


Don't worry about right now. If you get a publisher, they will provide you with permission guidelines and advise accordingly.

Having said that, I'm not understanding your rationale for including the quotations. If you are retelling the tale, your retelling it. Why would you include someone else's version in your own work of the same subject?
#4 - January 24, 2014, 01:01 PM


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