Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your song

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humblebee
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Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your song

Post by humblebee » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:04 pm

So if you write a song and the lyrics are a poem written by someone else and published and everything, how do you get permission to use them? Asking for a friend.

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squirrelboutique
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Re: Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your

Post by squirrelboutique » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:05 pm

The poem is for sure not in the public domain?

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humblebee
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Re: Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your

Post by humblebee » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:06 pm

squirrelboutique wrote:The poem is for sure not in the public domain?
My friend isn't sure about that.

It was published in the second half of the 20th century, so copyright probably hasn't lapsed, or whatever it is.

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linus
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Re: Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your

Post by linus » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:31 pm

the pastels used an auden poem for 'if I could tell you' and unrest swiped 'how was it for you' by james for 'yes, she is my skinhead girl' (going from the sublime to the...)

I'm not sure how that helps but I guess you either give a credit and/or contact the poet or the poet's estate, it's a whatchamacallit, a homage or somesuch

I guess if you were being derogatory about the source material there might be an issue but then maybe you can argue 'parody' or something

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Re: Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your

Post by Tomsharpey » Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:09 am

I'd say it very much depends on how famous the poem is. Would it pass under the radar if they didn't draw attention to it being someone else's work?

Regardless, credit where it's due.

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Re: Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your

Post by MJHibbett » Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:40 am

Tomsharpey wrote:I'd say it very much depends on how famous the poem is. Would it pass under the radar if they didn't draw attention to it being someone else's work?
I'm sure you're not, but it SOUNDS like you're saying that it's FINE to steal someone else's lyrics as long as they're not famous enough to be worth asking? I can assure you, as someone who's been at the wrong end of EXACTLY that assumption on a couple of occasions, it totally IS NOT.

Pete - I think you just need to contact them and ASK. If it was in the second half of the twentieth century then it's very very likely still in copyright, i think it remains so for fifty years since the person died (maybe 70 now?) but they'll be able to tell you. I know Chris T-T had to go through this when he did his AA Milne songs, and it was FINE - they might ask you for a fee, but it's unlikely to be loads, and they will probably be PLEASED to have The Work put out to a new audience. You know, like when Mike Read did his Auden album. If it's published in a BOOK then the name of the publishers should be in there, I guess. Just ring them!

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Re: Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your

Post by Tomsharpey » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:36 pm

I'm sure you're not, but it SOUNDS like you're saying that it's FINE to steal someone else's lyrics as long as they're not famous enough to be worth asking? I can assure you, as someone who's been at the wrong end of EXACTLY that assumption on a couple of occasions, it totally IS NOT.
No, no, quite the opposite! What i meant was that if you were to use an especially famous poem it'd be less of a quandry because people would likely know where you'd taken it from.

Like, if you used a Larkin poem you might not need to so consciously draw attention to its source because it's quite well ingrained in the cultural psyche and people wouldn't assume you were trying to pass his work of as your own.

But, even then, I'd say credit, credit, credit.

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Re: Permission to use someone's poem as the lyrics for your

Post by humblebee » Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:47 pm

Thanks all! My friend says he'll contact the publisher and see what happens.

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