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Song with borrowed sentence.

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:34 pm
by Ekko

I have written a song which contains a funny line (a 9 word sentence) which a famous comedian spoke in one of his routines (on video). I read somewhere that this kind of use of a single sentence does not break copyright law -- can anyone confirm this please?

More generally, how many (sequential) sentences of someone else's material would have to be used in this kind of way for it to constitute a copyright violation?

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:27 pm
by AndyJ
It is not so much the quantity of words, but more to do do with their overall importance within the original piece. For example, taking a comedian's catchphrase which was readily identifiable ('short fat hairy legs', for instance) would be more likely to cause problems than quoting several sentences of simple patter. That said, we are all entitled to use the English language to express ourselves, so repeating the same words as someone else's sentence is fairly commonplac, so I doubt that any comedian would be likely to get too upset about a few of his words being re-used, as they ar are fairly used to other comedians pinching their gags.

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:54 pm
by Ekko
Thanks for your reply!