Is it really easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission?
Here we go again with the ‘using song lyrics’ in fiction writing debate. With a little sprinkling of ‘fair use’, it gets tricky (imho).
So, I did a bit of digging and it looks like sticky ground to me. Directives are quite clear: you need permission to use lyrics in your writing, and that permission can come with a fee. An easy way out is to use the title of the song your character is listening to. That, apparently is ok.
There is also something called ‘fair use’ where a ‘blind eye’ lets a writer use about 300 words of someone else’s prose/poetry/lyrics before getting snarky.
In conclusion, is it too risky? Or would such an infringement glean a tad of much-needed publicity in this tough world of authorship?
And what if you don’t really know who wrote the darned thing in the first place? Here’s my example - if your story has a bunch of characters banging out a well known gospel ditty apparently written by Hank Williams (or is it?), where do you, as a writer, stand? The lyrics look very similar to verses from the bible to me, I wonder if Hank got permission. Or did he just ask the Heavenly Father for forgiveness?
Praise the Lord, I may have seen the light!