Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Pennsylvania

giving credit where credit is due

I have extensively searched this site but I have not found what I'm looking for. So here goes..... I would like to create a greeting card line using my own illustrations on the front cover. On the inside, I'd like to use lyrics (one liners) from songs as the ''message'' inside the card. As part of the cards appeal, I'd like to provide the song name, artist name, album and year on the card as well.

If they are just one liners (inspirational or expressive NOT the songs hook or chorus - example: the inside of a card would say ''Sit back and let the evening go'' from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) do I need to obtain a license? Would I need to obtain a license if I didn't quote the artist/song/album etc. and just use lyrics which appear to be everyday phrases?

AND, lastly, if I do need a license, how am I supposed to obtain rights to use these phrases from literally hundreds of musicians? Do I obtain these individually? Is there a ''blanket'' license I can obtain? I'm sooooo confused!

Thank you in advance for all your wisdom!

Asked on 11/02/07, 9:46 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Gerry Elman Elman Technology Law, P.C.

Re: giving credit where credit is due

You are asking a good question, and unfortunately there isn't a simple answer. For anything definitive, you'd need to consult a lawyer who understands the intricacies of copyright law and the evolving principles of "fair use." That's within the scope of my practice.

One thing you might look to would be the book "Getting Permission" published by Nolo Press. The good news is that the music industry does have a licensing community represented by ASCAP, BMI, and the Harry Fox Agency from which blanket licenses for certain uses can be negotiated.

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Answered on 11/02/07, 10:44 am

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