1. Free Legal Help, Legal Forms and Lawyers. TheLaw.com has been providing free legal assistance online since 1995. Our most popular destinations for legal help are below. It only takes a minute to join our legal community!

    Dismiss Notice

Song Lyric Copyright

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by Barney, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. Barney

    Barney Law Topic Starter Guest

    Can a simple phrase like "Stand Beside Her" be copy righted or trademarked because someone used that phrase in their song?
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    7,168
    Likes Received:
    1,705
    Trophy Points:
    113

    The entire song ("God Bless America") already has copyright protection as does any phrase which can re readily identified with the song.

    Whether or not the use of the phrase "stand beside her" (or any other phrase of the song) constitutes infringement depends on how, when, why, and where the phrase is being used and, obviously, if there is any remuneration derived from the use of the phrase.

    What is it that you are really trying to ask?
     
  3. Schup

    Schup New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    So I understand the song has copyright protection. But does that mean they really own the individual simple phrases like God Bless America, the the extent that I can not personally use that phase on a mug I want to sell or example. I am doing small on line business. I want to sell patriotic mugs and such with my own art on them. It seems a phrases like God Bless America, which I guarantee was said long before song was written, would be public domain not something someone could claim as their own and prevent rest of us from using on our for profit items. But I certainly want to do things correctly and not have someone try to sue me. So my question is can I use the following independent phrases on a much or cap that I am selling with my own art on it. "God Bless America"..."Stand Beside Her"..."Land that I love" "I love this land"....That's what I am trying to determine. I do really appreciate you time and input. I you really think these phrases are owned then it makes me wonder how many other phrases are owned as well. So my last two questions are: How can you find out if a phrase is owned (copywrite)? If it is how easy and expensive is it to get to use it?
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    7,168
    Likes Received:
    1,705
    Trophy Points:
    113

    I'm not a copyright attorney but here's how I think it works.

    You're OK to use the American Flag and God Bless America on a coffee cup without any trouble. Just google God Bless America coffee cup and you'll find dozens, if not hundreds, of sources.

    The phrase and the flag are so iconic that it would be a stretch for anybody to relate such a coffee cup to the song.

    However, if you produce a series of cups with the phrases

    The totality of the series of cups could be construed as a glaring infringement of the song lyrics that you'd likely be sued in a heartbeat.

    The phrase "I love this land" does not appear in the song lyrics but so many variations of that appear in other songs that you are probably OK.

    All I can suggest is use a little common sense and don't push what could end up being a very costly envelope.

    Remember, just the cost of defending a lawsuit could put you out of business.
     
  5. Schup

    Schup New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Thank you for you insight. So God Bless America is not an issue. That's good. I was really hoping that "Stand beside her "would not be an issue. Its the only other Phrase I really wanted to use. Its so generic that I was even trying to use it as double meaning in the Advertising by saying, Buy your wife or special girl this patriotic gift and tell her you will stand beside her always. I just can't believe they can control that phrase in and of itself.

    So do you have any last thoughts on this one?

    I do have one last question. I am also using quotes by founding fathers. Washington, Jefferson, Mason, etc. Another site I reviewed earlier seemed to suggest that there was a time limit that was less that 100 years where any quotes from famous folks would become public domain and definitely useable by anyone. Can you confirm if that is true or if there is anything here I have to worry about.

    Once again. Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,

    Schup
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    7,168
    Likes Received:
    1,705
    Trophy Points:
    113

    I think using the phrase in that context would be fine as it does not evoke the song.

    Again, they are not controlling the phrase in and of itself.

    They are controlling the phrases of the song in its entirety but if you take any of the phrases and use them in a way that obviously evokes the song you risk a lawsuit.

    Understand that I am not a copyright lawyer. I'm giving you my views as a member of the public who might not recognize any one phrase as part of the song but seeing an array of coffee cups with several of the phrases would evoke the song.

    That's true and, according to the following website chart, anything uttered or published prior to 1923 is in the public domain. It's anything from 1923 forward that gets complicated. Read the article:

    Using Famous Quotes On Products: When Is It OK?

    There's also another article on copyright protection for short phrases that will shed some light on your issues. Again, courts apply a variety of criteria in determining whether a phrase has copyright protection:

    Copyright Protection for Short Phrases – Rich Stim
     

Share This Page