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Anyone with knowledge in law, music, copyright, and/or intellectual rights out there? For I have a question.

I have a new idea for a novel turning about in my head. It would center around a theatre production of a musical, though would really be about the interactions between some of the participants. I was thinking of a play by Sondheim in particular. I wouldn't make fun of the play; I like it, and would represent it in a flattering light. There would be rampant use of character names and lines and lyrics. I'd mention Sondheim by name; there would be no question that he wrote it, not me. So, do I need permission to use it, or is it decidedly "fair use" to do something like this? If I do need permission, who do I ask? Would I have to pay for it?

If I have to pay, then really, I'm just going to scrap the whole idea.

Comments

(Anonymous)
Jul. 26th, 2004 07:20 pm (UTC)
safe than sorry
Here is where the cliche, "it is better to be safe then sorry" comes into play. Since you are saying that the story would be based on specifics from one piece of work then you would need to contact the publisher about using it in a novel. Chances are they will not charge you for the use of it and if they do then they may just want a percentage of the profit or they may offer to publish the novel and rather than the advace they may use that for the royalty fee for the play. However, like one of your other comments, you would need a disclaimer and you would need to acknowledge the publisher and the original writer of the play.

More than likely, since you are asking before you are using the material they may not charge you anything at all. They may, in fact, tell you that you did not have to ask at all and thank you for doing so. Either way, it is not going to hurt you to contact the publisher.
badgermirlacca
Jul. 26th, 2004 07:46 pm (UTC)
Re: safe than sorry
True story: I wanted to use four lines from T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" in a book. Not only did I have to ask for permission, but they wanted money up from AND a percentage of my royalties.

Hell wit' dat, sez I; I made something up instead.

I would not assume that just because you ask ahead of time that they wouldn't charge you. It will just make it easier for them to track you down. Otoh, if you don't ask ahead of time, you're setting yourself up for an infringement lawsuit. And your publisher will not defend you, because when you sign your contract, you affirm that you haven't infringed anyone.

Not worth the trouble. Make something up.
badgermirlacca
Jul. 26th, 2004 07:47 pm (UTC)
Re: safe than sorry
up front. Not "up from."

Tyops R Us.
mollyringle
Jul. 28th, 2004 08:24 am (UTC)
Re: safe than sorry
Ugh, what a nuisance! Yes, I'm starting to think making something up is a better idea. I get full control over the material then anyway.