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Thread: Can you Quote another piece of Literature?

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  1. #9
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Louisville.
    Posts
    186
    Even if something isn't public domain, you can quote it. I used someting from Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun in my first novel, which is not a public domain work.

    Just keep in mind your contract with your publisher will stipulate that you're responsible for getting permission to use the quote (from the author or his/her publisher).

    In the case of Johnny Got His Gun, it wasn't clear who I needed to contact. I sent three or four fruitless letters before finally finding the correct publisher -- this took three months; responses can be slow -- but when I did it was quick and painless. So don't let something being under copyright protection stop you. Just be prepared to do some letter writing in order to obtain proper permissions.

    EDIT: This does not necessarily apply to song lyrics. I got permission for the Trumbo bit for free. I just explained the context and the word count and everything was fine. But I have heard of folks charging a lot of money for the right to use song lyrics.
    Last edited by Ryan David Jahn; 08-13-2009 at 12:54 AM.

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