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Gerald-Esquire, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3914
Experience:  30 years of experience.
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I have a book idea but am not sure if it would be a

Customer Question

I have a book idea but am not sure if it would be a copyright violation. It would be a compilation of select song lyrics from a band that I love. Obviously, this is their copyrighted material, but there are plenty of websites (including google) that catalog song lyrics with no apparent legal issues. Is there a difference?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Gerald-Esquire replied 1 year ago.


Please bear with me while I verify somethings for you.

Kind regards,


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, thanks. Take your time!
Expert:  Gerald-Esquire replied 1 year ago.


Thank you for your patience and thank you for using Just Answer. I want to provide you the best service I can. Please feel free to ask any follow up questions you have.

I am an attorney with 30 years of experience. I also happen to be a published author. I hope to provide you information that will help you in resolving your question.

I am afraid that much of what I can tell you may not be what you want to hear. BUT that does not mean that you can not pursue your project, or if not this project another one. So don't give up.

What you are describing is referred to under Copyright law as a compilation. The compilation of another persons copyrighted work is generally viewed as infringing. The best way for you to pursue your project is to seek permission from the current copyright holder of the lyrics.

The area of law that addresses when one may and may not use another's work without permission is referred to as "Fair Use." Without getting to deep into the weeds a fair use is allowed for certain kinds of uses of another person's work. What Google and other search engines do is create indexes that may be searched. The creation of these searchable databases have been determined to be a fair use under the US Copyright Laws. See: Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., No. 13-4829 (2d Cir. 2015).

These links helps describe how copyrights work and may be useful to you:

This link contains examples of cases where the Fair Use issue has been addressed:

Take a look at the Twin Peaks case because that is a close example to what you are discussing.

Here is a link to the law:

I understand that this information may not be what you had hoped to hear. BUT I would not want to mislead you into taking actions that could cause you difficulty down the road.

I hope the information I provide is useful to you. I want you to be comfortable and satisfied with my attempt to assist you. Please, if you have ANY follow up questions, feel free to ask. Please note that I am generally unavailable Friday evening through Sunday.

Please do not forget to give me a positive rating. It adds nothing to your costs but it helps me greatly. Thank you.

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Good luck.

Please note: Information is educational and not given as legal advice. Only your local attorney can give legal advice. I can't establish or accept an attorney-client relationship with you. All posts are available for public viewing.

Kind regards,