Panic Time

on September 2, 2011 in Misc

OMG I feel so STUPID.

I left a quote in The Compass Master that might’ve gotten me in big trouble and I kinda went into a panic over it.

Let me explain.

On Tuesday the proof for The Compass Master arrived in my mail.   Proof is the publisher’s term for a book in its almost final form: bound and with the final cover and text, barring any changes.   So for the first time I saw how my baby is truly gonna look and feel.

Funny thing is, I didn’t get excited. Instead of YIPPEE, THIS IS MY BOOK!  I was more like, Oh, so here at last is The Compass Master.  Damn, I wrote one, big, fat, honkin’ thick book, didn’t I?  523 pages.   I think I got carried away.

Anyway that night I started slowly scanning the text and the next day kept it up on the bus to and from work.  And by scanning I mean making sure the 100 short chapters are all in order, doesn’t look like so much as a paragraph is missing.  I didn’t really read the text ‘cause I’ve been through the whole freakin’ manuscript again and again and again in the last few months, and if I read it again I’ll want to edit and cut stuff out ‘cause I’m never satisfied with anything I write.

But on page 237, for whatever odd reason, my eyes focused on one particular sentence…

“………………………………………,” Paul McCartney kept singing in his head. (WORDS BLANKED OUT DELIBERATELY.  SEE WHY BELOW.

And that’s when I wondered…Um, do I need copyright permission to use Paul’s seven little words?  And more important, why am I so FREAKING STUPID AND DENSE THAT I DIDN’T ASK MYSELF THIS QUESTION BACK IN THE EARLY REVIEW STAGES?

Now as you know I’m a veteran in the copyright permission department.  Did it so I could use in TCM quotes from a book and two stanzas of a Monty Python song.  That took time and money ($100 for Python), I can tell you.  So I already knew how you can quote two lines of poetry without seeking permission.  You can paraphrase from books, within limits, if you give attribution.  But what about songs?

Turns out the law says one thing and music companies say another.

The law basically instructs writers to give attribution (I did this by mentioning McCartney) and keep it to a few words (done).  But music companies are so fanatical about slapping their greedy, controlling hands over everything they possess rights to that they’ll haul even minor authors into court on charges of copyright infringement because the lowly writers dared to quote say, seven measly words from a song.   In one case the court found for the author and ordered the music company to pay his court costs.  But who wants to be sued and go to court?

So I spent a restless night of semi-panic thinking that at this late stage I’d have to pay my publisher CreateSpace about $200 to remove this single sentence.  I contacted them first thing in the morning.

They’re gonna take the sentence out for free.

Well, that was a thank you Jesus and all ye gods moment for me.

And this really and truly should be the final change I’ll make to The Compass Master.  Now Paul McCartney and Northern Lights Music can rest assured that this writer will never ever again quote anything of theirs in print.   No, not ever.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

6 Responses to “Panic Time”

  1. Ben says:

    Wow, that sucks! That awesome that it turned out like that, though! Is there a release date set up for your book?

  2. Helena says:

    Ben – No date yet, but I assume it’ll be in this month of September. Would you mind if I emailed you personally and got your address? I’d love to send you a copy.

  3. ann says:

    Whew! Glad you caught a financial break on that one.

  4. Ciara Knight says:

    Wow, that is crazy. Congratulations on the final change, though. I’ll keep an eye out for the book release.

  5. Helena says:

    Ciara — I’d love to send you a copy, but if I do PLEASE don’t assume that you are obligated to read it. It can simply be suitable for display or as a doorstop.

  6. Helena says:

    Ann – Tell me about it. I need to save all the $ I can these days.