View Full Version : Um, am I going to be sued?

10-06-2009, 05:41 PM
So I've finished my book, "Walking with the Mailman," and have decided, after many highs and lows in the traditional publishing world, to self publish. Iím thinking Lulu.

Hereís one of my concerns. The cover Iíve designed features a photo found on the internet.
http://www.rickackerman.com/wpcontent/uploads/2009/04/mailman.jpg (http://www.rickackerman.com/wpcontent/uploads/2009/04/mailman.jpg)

1). Can I be sued for using that picture?

2). If yes, then how in the world might I track down the source who has the rights to that picture, so that I can ask permission to use it?

Also, what using about quotes from songs? At the beginning of a chapter, for example, I have a quote from ďI got you Babe.Ē Do I need to obtain permission for that as well?

Thank you!


P.S. Someone may want to encourage me to keep trying to find a traditional publisher. But really, Iím at the end of my rope and donít want to spend any more time pursuing that. I had an agent, but have since parted ways (He was odd). Another agent, Laurie Abkemeier (who was a very nice and professional) read the entire manuscript and spoke highly of it, but in the end passed. The book is more a collection of essays, not a traditional story (I donít get the girl at the end, nor am I cured of cancer or something). She wanted more of the story element.

I decided to forego agents and sent a book proposal off to six publishers. Heard back from four, and all four sent a form rejection letter. Uhg. So anyway, there are 800,000 postal employees plus 70,000 retired letter carries. If I market this thing correctly, which I think I can, I can tap into that group. So thatís why Iím thinking about self-publishing.

10-06-2009, 06:15 PM
Your link didn't work for me, but yes--you need permission to use that picture. Failing that you need to use another picture. You sourced the picture from the internet, find is again such as by using the Tin Eye software, and find out who took it. If you are using it for a commercial project they might quite reasonably expect compensation--at least a token amount.

10-06-2009, 06:20 PM


10-06-2009, 06:37 PM
So it looks like this image can be purchased at a number of different image stores. Basically, am I obligated to purchase this image? And does a "royalty free" purchase cover my rear?

Also, what about quoting lyrics from a song?


10-06-2009, 06:59 PM
You have to purchase the image to use it. It is a copyright infringment if you do not and you need to read their terms of release for it to see if it allows you to use it on materials you will be selling. If you have questions about how to purchase a commercial license for the picture, you can contact the stock company you are using or it may have the information available around it somewhere.

Royalty free just means you pay a one-time fee and don't have to repay each time you use it. You will still need a commerical license for the picture.

Lyrics, I'm not too sure about, but I found this article with a brief google search:


10-06-2009, 07:14 PM
Many thanks, HTH! That was helpful.


10-06-2009, 07:50 PM
Austin do NOT pay more than a 100.00 bucks for that image, and even then, only if it's royalty free without an end date.

Make sure that the rights include printing, not just digital or on the web.

10-06-2009, 09:01 PM
I spoke with a representative a moment ago. It sells for 40$, and I would be able to use it on a book cover. Not bad.

I may end up going with something else. The title "Walking with the Mailman" is perfect for an ironic cover, namely, one with a mailman, bag swinging behind him, hat falling off, running for his life from a dog that's chasing him (Maybe a small dog, for more humor, or maybe a big one, one that is more true to my daily dealings).

10-06-2009, 09:29 PM
Take some pains with the cover text too. The cover gives away a book as an amateur POD product in terms of the typesetting and the image.

10-07-2009, 12:20 AM
I don't think you can quote lyrics in your book without permission. I use quotes in my book, but they're all from really old dead people like Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, whose works have long ago passed into the public domain. (It's seventy years after an author died or published the work--one of the two. I'll have to look that up again.)

10-07-2009, 01:02 AM
Also, what about quoting lyrics from a song?


Go here and read the AW Copyright FAQ (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58845).

Generally speaking, no don't quote lyrics. They are exceedingly expensive.

Public domain poetry no problem. Lyrics? Huge PITA.

10-07-2009, 03:38 AM
I'm under the impression that a book author's copyright lasts for life plus 75 years, although I could certainly be mistaken.

As for using lyrics:

1) You absolutely MUST secure permission. No exceptions. Otherwise you --and your publisher-- are wide open for a copyright infringement lawsuit.

2) As you might expect, the expense is related to the requested song's popularity. I secured permission to use lyrics from a mostly-forgotten 1964 pop song by Chad & Jeremy for only $105.00. My guess is that "I've Got You, Babe" would cost considerably more than that. (As an aside, despite what you may have heard, the application process wasn't all that onerous.) :)

10-07-2009, 07:54 AM
Wow, sounds like the whole lyric thing isn't worth it. Eek. Oh, well. Bye-bye lyrics :-)

Thanks all for your tremendous help!


Art Edwards
10-08-2009, 02:35 AM
I had to cut seven sets of song lyrics from my first novel. I kept one set, and had to pay for the privilege. I'm also a songwriter, so now I just pillage my own work.

If you decide to pay to use some lyrics in your book, you have to find the song's publisher. The publisher will ask you for some info about your book, and then they'll tell you what they charge. There's probably some database that lists songs with their corresponding publishers. Some googling will probably net the info you need.

10-08-2009, 07:08 AM
Thanks, man. I contacted the label. I'll see what they want. But really, I'm not willing to pay hardly anything. It just doesn't make sense.

I'm glad people warned me, though. That would really, really suck to get in trouble.