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  1. #1
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    Default Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    Hi, this is my first post, and I hope this is the appropriate place to ask this question...

    I would like to include famous quotations on my own original works of art which I plan to sell and profit from. Are there any intellectual property issues I should be aware of here? The quote could be anything from words uttered by a famous personality such as Yogi Berra to a verse or two from a famous poem. I would of course credit the quotation to the appropriate author, but is there anything else I need to do in order to sell my work which contains a quote by another person? Do I need their permission? Does it matter if they're living or deceased?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks much.

    ---
    Steve

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    Quote Quoting Shotster
    Hi, this is my first post, and I hope this is the appropriate place to ask this question...

    I would like to include famous quotations on my own original works of art which I plan to sell and profit from. Are there any intellectual property issues I should be aware of here? The quote could be anything from words uttered by a famous personality such as Yogi Berra to a verse or two from a famous poem. I would of course credit the quotation to the appropriate author, but is there anything else I need to do in order to sell my work which contains a quote by another person? Do I need their permission? Does it matter if they're living or deceased?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks much.

    ---
    Steve
    Hopefuly someone will have a through answer for you...all I can offer is that Shakepeare is fair game (no copyrights) I actualy learned something during my wayward thespian days

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    It is a matter of copyright. For recent quotes, you can get away with a lot more by quoting U.S. political figures from their official speeches, than private figures in any context. The MLK estate is famous for pursuing unauthorized use of the "I Have a Dream" speech and obtaining royalties from those who wish to use it. So if they're recent enough to be under copyright, you should consider either getting permission or licensing the quote, or bypassing it in favor of something that is in the public domain.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    It is a matter of copyright. [...] So if they're recent enough to be under copyright, you should consider either getting permission or licensing the quote, or bypassing it in favor of something that is in the public domain.
    Thanks for the reply, Mr. Knowitall. I just read Aaron Larson's copyright info, and things seem to get murky with respect to the "fixed in a tangible medium" stipulation. For instance, what if there's a famous quote that's credited to someone but which that person never officially recorded or documented themselves. A famous personality, for example, might say something, and someone nearby (perhaps even a news reporter) hears it and publishes the comment, citing the source. Now, once the quote appears in the news, it is fixed in a tangible medium, but it was not done so by the one who spoke the words. At that point, it's just someone reporting what someone else said. Is it copyrighted? Must I obtain the permission of the person who originally uttered the words, or will simply crediting them suffice?

    There are many clever and amusing sayings by Will Rogers and Yogi Berra, for instance; but I don't know that they ever actually wrote any of them down. Other parties might have created and published (for profit even) compilations of famous quotes, but does that preclude me from using the same quote in my own work without explicit permission?

    ---
    Steve

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    If you dig a bit deeper, you will find that many of those statements are not spontaneous, but were written in advance before they are spoken. I already told you about MLK's speech - recorded by others or no, there is no dispute that he holds the copyright to "I have a dream" (and his estate will sue those who violate it).

    If you aren't willing to get permission and don't care about getting sued, do what you want.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    If you dig a bit deeper, you will find that many of those statements are not spontaneous, but were written in advance before they are spoken. I already told you about MLK's speech - recorded by others or no, there is no dispute that he holds the copyright to "I have a dream" (and his estate will sue those who violate it).

    If you aren't willing to get permission and don't care about getting sued, do what you want.
    Amen. And let me add, set aside about $30K and three years IF you are lucky....

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    If you dig a bit deeper, you will find that many of those statements are not spontaneous, but were written in advance before they are spoken.
    Ok, great. That's all fine and dandy, but I'm still unclear about exactly where the line is drawn with respect to being "fixed in a tangible medium". Must the one who originated the words be the one who fixes them in a tangible medium? And what if the words were NOT written in advance? And I'm not saying I intend to use any such statements. I'm just trying to get a handle on how strictly "copyright" is defined. I suspect the issue is not very clear cut. For instance, it's conceivable that someone who knows nothing of MLK uses the words "I have a dream" in some artistic work (poem perhaps) that doesn't have anything to do with racial in-/equality. Have they violated a copyright? Surely prior knowledge and context count for something, no?

    ---
    Steve

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    If you believe a quote falls into the public domain, that's up to you to verify before you use it.

    Let's not confuse the issues. If you use an "I had a dream" theme that has nothing to do with MLK, it has nothing to do with MLK. If you quote his speech, it's subject to his (estate's) copyright.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    Quote Quoting Shotster
    Ok, great. That's all fine and dandy, but I'm still unclear about exactly where the line is drawn with respect to being "fixed in a tangible medium". Must the one who originated the words be the one who fixes them in a tangible medium? And what if the words were NOT written in advance? And I'm not saying I intend to use any such statements. I'm just trying to get a handle on how strictly "copyright" is defined. I suspect the issue is not very clear cut. For instance, it's conceivable that someone who knows nothing of MLK uses the words "I have a dream" in some artistic work (poem perhaps) that doesn't have anything to do with racial in-/equality. Have they violated a copyright? Surely prior knowledge and context count for something, no?

    ---
    Steve
    Steve, the bright line rules just don't exist in law too much. I wish they did.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Using Famous Quotations in Own Original Works

    Quote Quoting seniorjudge
    Steve, the bright line rules just don't exist in law too much. I wish they did.
    Yeah, that's what I figured. I just read the fair use doctrine, and it helped me better understand what constitutes a copyright violation.

    Thanks,

    ---
    Steve

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