I am working on writing a story (not actually sure if it will qualify as a novel or short story or what-have-you, but that's not relevant)

In the story, a character is described to vividly remember the lyrics of a favorite song and "listens" to the song in his mind. the way it is written, the lyrics are quoted in italics interspersed with the actual story.

I also would like to potentially make a quote of a song at the beginning of each chapter; for example:

"I bet a million to one, that there's a face in the fire that burns in the sun" would be quoted from Jan hammer's "Seeds Of Life" in the header of chapter 1, and I would like to quote a "One Eskimo" song (astronauts) as chapter 2's header, which takes place in space from another character's viewpoint.

My question here is; what will I need to do to ensure that I remain within legal boundaries in regards to copyright law?

I am willing to potentially purchase licenses if needed or just re-write my story to exclude the quotes, but I am wondering if perhaps this usage of song lyrics falls under fair use, since in a way I am transforming the songs by including small portions of them as part of the storytelling.


1 Answer 1


It's always safer to obtain a license, but this sounds like a case of fair use to me, assuming you're limiting yourself to these very short pieces, rather than copying large portions of a copyrighted work.

For a more detailed breakdown of fair-use principles, see this answer.

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