Archives of Reception of the Bible

Past blogging in more ways than one.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Permissions to reproduce

One of the additional complications about writing about modern interpreters, specifically authors of artistic compositions, is that reproducing their work generally involves the need to get specific permission to do this. This has proved difficult for the Johnny Cash paper, not least because I have had trouble finding out just who to ask. Always in the back of my mind was the thought that perhaps I shouldn't reproduce the whole of the song, 'The Man Comes Around", in print. So I decided to ask Michael Gilmour, of Providence College, Manitoba, for some advice. For those of you who don't know, Michael has produced a fine volume on Dylan and Scripture (Tangled up in the Bible: Dylan and Scripture [Continuum, 2004]). The fact that Dylan is still alive adds a further complication since libel may be an issue in some circumstances. He writes:

"When I was working on Dylan I contacted his company Special Rider Music about this issue. They advised keeping citations as brief as possible so they would fall under the 'fair use' clause of copyright law (whatever that is). Anything more than a few lines gets complicated and yes, there are costs involved. If you are wanting to include lyrics of a full song you might want to track down the copyright owner (it may or may not be Cash's estate). The formula they use to calculate costs involves number of copies of the book or article being published. That being said, academic books and articles are not mass produced so it's probably not a major expense. I would recommend describing lyrics and themes as much as possible without quoting often from the songs themselves."

I think this will be my line. After all, one section of the work refers specifically to different texts for one line of the song on various lyric web-sites, so people can easily look up the whole thing themselves.


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