Reno, NV asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Nevada

Q: Can I use snippets of lyrics from songs with full attribution in a journal, where the quotes/lyrics are incidental?

I am looking to creating a Trading Journal that includes suggestions, reminders, and best practices for traders to follow. For example: In a section where I mention that you need to take a loss if the market moves against you, I could use a quote/lyrics from Led Zeppelin such as "Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good". I just want to make sure this falls under "fair use" and I do not have to pay any royalties, etc.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: Incorporating song lyrics into your trading journal requires careful consideration of copyright law. Copyright protects original works of authorship, including lyrics, and using them without permission can lead to infringement issues.

Fair use is a complex legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission, typically for purposes like criticism, comment, news reporting, education, scholarship, or research. However, determining whether your use of song lyrics falls under fair use depends on several factors, including the purpose and character of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the entire work, and the effect of the use on the potential market for the original work.

Using small snippets of lyrics, particularly if they are integral to your commentary or analysis, could potentially be considered fair use. However, the fact that your journal is a commercial product might weigh against a fair use determination.

It's important to note that even with full attribution, this does not automatically exempt you from copyright infringement. Given the complexities and risks involved, it would be wise to consult with a legal professional who has expertise in copyright law. They can provide specific guidance based on the details of your project and help you assess the risk of using copyrighted lyrics.

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