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So just wondering, will it be legal to use a few lines of song lyrics as your service/company's slogan? For example, "You just gotta ignite the light, and let it shine" (Katy Perry's firework) as a slogan for something like fund-raising platform? Like maybe a whole song is copyrighted (not familiar with copyrights on songs), but is it possible to legally use part of it if you like the meaning?

If can, how about adding TM or registered sign next to it? Since most slogan has it.

  • Do you actually want to register the song line as your own trademark? Or just 'use' the line in some kind of promotional material? – Brandin Dec 12 '18 at 12:57
  • @Brandin I'm not sure the definition of registered (submit to USPTO?), but I'm going to use it as a slogan (the text under our company name). Not just for promotion (maybe the example I made looks like though). – Andrew.Wolphoe Dec 12 '18 at 13:08
  • Then there is no trademark issue, but possibly a copyright one. Basically you are incorporating part of a copyrighted work into your logo (which you own) and redistributing that. You don't own the song lyrics, though. – Brandin Dec 12 '18 at 13:16
  • @Brandin Why no trademark but copyright issue? You mean I'll have like copyright infringment if using it as slogan? But how would a copyright protect part of the lyrics, while it might be a sentence that been said daily by normal people? – Andrew.Wolphoe Dec 12 '18 at 13:19
  • The lyrics are almost certainly not trademarked, and you can't trademark someone else's lyrics, so there is no trademark issue. If you copy a line from a song, it depends on how you use it. For example, if you just copy the song line in order to quote it, that is probably fine. If you happen to utter the same sentence as it appears in a copyrighted song, that is not copying at all, although the words in the sentence may be identical. – Brandin Dec 12 '18 at 13:22
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This is a copyright issue. Without license or other agreement, it would not be possible to incorporate the lyrics into your logo or other work. This is because you are relying on the intellectual property of another, which you do not have the right to incorporate into your work.

Having said that, I would like to point out that copyright laws vary substantially from country to country. For example, in France, a painting commissioned for the boardroom of a company, but later moved to the cafeteria, could be subjected to restrictions in use.

Also, there are some exceptions to copyright uses. For example, if lyrics were used for satirical purposes, the inclusion of the lyrics might be permissible.

However in the instance you outline, you are trying to incorporate intellectual property of someone else, into your trademark, which you attach to your good, products and image, and in doing so, you would need to obtain the copyright owner's agreement, assuming that the copyright was still valid on the song.

One final note. The song lyrics can be copyrighted, the music can be copyrighted, a performance instance can be copyrighted, and so on. So if you try to secure a license, you will want to be contacting all of the relevant owners.

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