Questions Self Publishing Authors Ask: Song Lyrics

Throughout the month of July I will be discussing topics that often come up for self publishing authors.  Without an experienced agent, you may have found that it’s tough to find the answers to your questions about rights and permissions.  These posts are designed to help answer some of the questions you may have and will direct you to other sites where you can get more information on each topic.  Come back each Wednesday this month for more informational posts to help you in your self publishing journey.  If you have additional questions, please send us a comment and we’ll add it to our list of topics to cover in the coming weeks.

This week I will address the issue of using song lyrics in your book. Many self publishing authors aren’t sure what they need to do in order to protect themselves from copyright laws when it comes to using song lyrics. If you want to use song lyrics in your book, there are a few things you should know.

  • The Fair Use rule doesn’t apply to song lyrics.
  • You can use song titles without permission because titles can’t be copyrighted.
  • You can use song lyrics that are in the public domain.
  • If you want to use copyrighted lyrics, you have to get permission and pay, and it can be costly.
  • You will need permission and have to pay to use recorded music in your book trailer.

If you still want to use song lyrics in your book, you can obtain the rights in five easy steps. To learn how, check out this article:

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

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