Woodstock, GA asked in Intellectual Property for Georgia

Q: I am writing a book. Can I use a song title as a title of a chapter? I.E. Chap 1 Life in the Fast Lane?

I am writing a book based on my interpretation of the Hotel California album by Eagles. Can I name my chapters after the songs on the album?

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1 Lawyer Answer
John B. Hudak
John B. Hudak
PREMIUM
Answered

A: Generally, short phrases – including titles of songs – are not protected by copyright law. A short phrase is not protectable because there is not sufficient authorship. That said, the more you take from someone else the more likely the other party will claim there was authorship -- maybe the whole list of all the song titles in same order would cause the party to claim authorship – and therefore infringement. You are butting up against a set of famous work where the author may be actively protecting their intellectual property, and may aggressively challenge others who are using elements of their work -- even though the claim might be weak. So be careful. The phrases may have protection under trademark law.

Consider consulting with an intellectual property attorney to analyze the specific facts to your situation.

This answer includes generalizations and there are many caveats. This answer does not form an attorney client relationship.

Kathryn Perales agrees with this answer

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