Copyright on quoting lyrics and movie quotes

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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AmyJ99
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Copyright on quoting lyrics and movie quotes

Post by AmyJ99 »

Hi,

I'm wanting to start a business venture in selling a4/a3 prints that are just on a plain background and I'm wanting to include on them some well known quotes from movies, lyrics and maybe even books. I've really tried to research this area myself but I am still a little confused and really don't want to get this wrong.

Examples would be;
- 'nobody put's baby in a corner' - from Dirty Dancing
- 'whisper words of wisdom, let it be' - Beatles song
- 'Even the smallest person can change the course of history ' - Lady Galadriel from Lord of the Rings.
- 'turn around, bright eyes' - Bonnie Tyler lyrics
- 'Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it' – from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Again these would just be text on a plain or coloured background so the quotes are the main feature.

a) are the above examples all ok to use? - I read up on the public domain and obviously none of these are in the public domain yet so I wasn't sure if I could use them at all.

b) would a slightly longer quote than some of the above still be ok? how much is ok to quote?

c) can I quote from any movie/song/book/etc or are there limits to what I can quote?

any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks! - Amy
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AndyJ
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Re: Copyright on quoting lyrics and movie quotes

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Amy,

There's no problem with quoting relatively short phrases such as the ones you gave as examples. The type of source (book, film, record) doesn't matter provided that the words have be published at some point. The specific bit of UK law which allows this is section 30 (1ZA) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Much the same exception is provided in the laws of countries of the EU, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is called a fair dealing exception which means that the amount of a work which is quoted must be fair, ie no more than is required for the specific purpose. The second requirement is that the source of the quote is also mentioned "unless this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise". This last provision may well apply if you want your posters to have a clean, simple look which would be disrupted by having a credit on its face. However I think that if you felt that was the case, you should try and provide the credit on the back of the print. The credit needs to be for the author and preferably the work the words were published in. So for instance with the first, third and fifth of your examples, you need to include the name of the screenwriter and the film, not the actor or character who uttered to words. With songs it should be the writer of the lyrics and the title of the song. Where the work is a collaboration, eg John Lennon and Paul McCartney, both authors should be named unless you are sure that only one of them wrote the lyrics, for instance as was the case in the partnership between Gilbert and Sullivan. Note that if the words are taken from a song which was first made available in a film (eg Frozen), it is the song writer you need to credit, not the screenwriter of the film.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
AmyJ99
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Re: Copyright on quoting lyrics and movie quotes

Post by AmyJ99 »

Hi Andy,

Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly and clearing that up for me. I recently started selling my prints online including quotes/lyrics like the ones I stated and some common phrases and sayings and have been enjoying creating them! Today I got a comment on one of my Harry Potter quote prints (which is a short quote from the last book 'After all this time? Always' which I put a citation at the bottom stating the book, the author and the character who said it) the comment was from some random woman who also sells on this platform who stated that I shouldn't be making money off work that isn't mine and that I could get a lawsuit against me. Obviously I know you have stated in your reply that I could sell these prints with quotes on as long as the quote is short and there is a citation for the source, which i have done for all my prints, I was just wanting to be 100% sure that selling these quote prints is ok and that there won't be any legal repercussions. Any advice or reassurances are greatly appreciated, thank you so much again so your earlier advice.

Amy
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AndyJ
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Re: Copyright on quoting lyrics and movie quotes

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Amy,

People have been quoting other people for centuries. There's nothing unethical about it. In most cases it is done out of respect. Copyright law makes sure that any such respect for the wisdom or humour or novelty found in the quote is fairly directed back to the author, not to the person who sells the goods on which the quote appears. The reason you are justified in making some money out of the arrangement is because of your creastivity in bringingt together the quote and a medium for expressing it which the original author had not exploited. The situation is not substantially different to Waterstones or Amazon making a profit from every Harry Potter book they sell.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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