Using quotes by famous people

Can I use quotes by famous people in my book if I include their name?

 

For example, if I put:

"Super meaningful quote." - Famous person who said it

 

Can I do that??

 

Not sure how the copyright works in this situation. 

Comments

  • It depends on how you use them.

     

    EPIGRAMS:

     

    If you have a nifty quote that you set apart on a page by itself just after the copyright page, and it says:

     

    "I Came, I Saw, I Conquered"

                   - Julius Caesar

     

    Well, you're safe because all Caesar's works are in the public domain. But if you had an epigram like:

     

    "Something Nifty"

             -- Og Keep

     

    Well, he's alive, his books are in print, and the copyright is still in effect -- so you'd need permissions.

     

    INLINE CITATIONS:

     

    If you're quoting to rebut, discuss, illuminate, reinforce, or generally make critical remarks about (critical meaning to critique, not critical as in snarky), then you're covered under fair usage within reason. You could have something like, "In Caveman Apologetics, on page 23, Og Keep claims that "Something Nifty." As we all know, Some is not thing, and none of that would be nifty," then you should be covered.

     

    Nonetheless, you need to be as specific as you can about the citation, to give credit where credit is due. Also, if you have any doubt about the fair usage of the citation, asking for permission is a nice thing to do.

     

    If it's a more gratutious inline citation -- in other words, you're not analyzing it in any way -- Then, again, it might be fair usage, but your case is weaker. And the more you cite, the weaker your case for fair use. Cite a phrase, and you're probably safe (but I am not a lawyer and this is not advice). Cite a sentence, or even two, and you're probably okay. Cite a paragraph and you're on shaky ground. Cite a page, and you've pretty much thrown fair usage out the window, imho.

     

    Again, when in doubt, ask for permissions.

     

    Whatever you cite should refer to the work in which it appears. If someone could reasonably ask whether a statement belong to you or to another author, then more citation is needed. It is acceptable to use endnotes and footnotes for this purpose.

     

    If you have doubts: Ask for permission.

     

    In one case, an author's representative looked at the circumstances of my intended usage and stated that in their opinion, it was a fair use, and they granted permission (which I technically had as a matter of law anyway). In that case, they did not charge me. They could have said that it was not a fair use (for example, if I had made it an epigram) and they could have charged me $100 or so for permission -- a small fee, all things considered. As an epigram, my fair use would not have applied, you see...

     

    In another case, an author's heir consulted her counsel and decided that my usage would constitute a derivitive work, so I was denied permission outright. That book remains unpublished.

     

    That's how it works, and here's why: You, once your books are in print, will expect these same courtesies of other writers.

     

    HOW TO ASK FOR PERMISSION:

     

    In the book you are citing, on the copyright page, you will see the publisher's name and city (often an address as well). If there is no address, Google that publisher and city, along with the word "Permissions" and you will usually get a page with a full description of that publisher's permissions contact information. If this is fruitless, Google the author and "permissions."

     

    Once you have an address, write a short letter detailing the passage you wish to cite (for example, "In the second edition, on page 33, in the second paragraph, Keep states 'Something Nifty.' " or "On page 198, I wish to cite the entire second paragraph, beginning, "Something..." and ending "Nifty.") and how you intend to use it (as an epigram, as an inline citation, for critical use (i.e. analysis/discussion of the passage).

     

    Be polite, of course, and ask for permission, and ask for a quotation for a reasonable fee if appropriate. Allow a couple of weeks -- they may wish to review the passage and consult their lawyers.

     

     EXAMPLE OF AN ADVERSE CITATION:

     

    In his controversial 2008 movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein cited lengthy passages from the John Lennon song, Imagine. He discussed the philosophical content of the song and its context. He was sued by John Lennon's heirs for copyright violations, but was exonerated by the court under the fair use clause, because he was analyzing the song as part of a point that he made in the film.

     

    Regardless whether you agree or disagree with the film or its message, this example shows how the fair use clause can protect an author, and also illustrates the perils of inappropriate citation.

     

    I hope that clarifies the question for you.

  • I wonder how things stand for public declarations made by officials, politicians, artists, etc, particularly when they are repeated millions of times by the media and in social networks.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    I wonder how things stand for public declarations made by officials, politicians, artists, etc, particularly when they are repeated millions of times by the media and in social networks.


    I could be wrong on this -- I am not a lawyer -- but it is my understanding that a public statement is difficult to copyright. So long as the journalist is making a reasonable effort at attribution, it is difficult to see it going badly for him or her. Of course, if the quotation is so badly wrong as to be slanderous -- for example, twisting a statement until it is saying something that is false, defamatory, and malicious -- then it is another story.


  • Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    potetjp wrote:

    I wonder how things stand for public declarations made by officials, politicians, artists, etc, particularly when they are repeated millions of times by the media and in social networks.


    I could be wrong on this -- I am not a lawyer -- but it is my understanding that a public statement is difficult to copyright. So long as the journalist is making a reasonable effort at attribution, it is difficult to see it going badly for him or her. Of course, if the quotation is so badly wrong as to be slanderous -- for example, twisting a statement until it is saying something that is false, defamatory, and malicious -- then it is another story.


    Indeed, but the declarations I had in mind were those made live on television by, say, politicians. No journalist is involved, only somebody like us.

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