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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I am self-publishing a book called 'Good Old World' which phrase

Customer Question

I am self-publishing a book called 'Good Old World' which phrase occurs in a song by Tom Waits, a well-know American musician. I also print a few lines of the lyrics of the song on one of the opening pages attributing them to Tom Waits.
I have tried to contact Tom Waits on the internet to ask if he would mind my doing this. The sites, the latest was Facebook, all seem mainly concerned with Tom's music and I have not received a reply.
There are many worries when publishing a memoir. Not offending anyone and getting the facts right. Now that the book is published I have started to worry whether I have broken any laws. I considered the phrase 'Good Old World' as parallel with 'Good Old Boy', Good Old Tom', 'Good Old Days, etc - a phrase that had a basis in the language already.
The 8 lines of the quotation would, I thought, be helpful to the composer but it would be polite to ask permission.
I have not been able to find any other way of getting touch with Tom Waits. I have had to rely on the internet and it seems on someone managing the websites connected with him to bring my request to his attention. I have heard nothing.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

I have just found where totype!

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

Please go ahead now.

Alex Watts :

How many of the lines did you use please?

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

8

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

How can I continue with you if I have to break off here

Alex Watts :

You can come back to the question at any time.

Alex Watts :

Was it just a verse of chorus?

Alex Watts :

Did you get permission first?

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

It was lines of a song. I did not get permission. I explained that I tried to reach Tom Waits on the internet.

Alex Watts :

You just wonder if its ok to use this?

Alex Watts :

As a %, how much of the work have you used?

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

That is what I am asking. I thought that trying might be enough when it seemed that I was not going to be able to make contact with Tom Waits

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

Not sure - one verse of a song. I can find out by looking at the words on the cd

Alex Watts :

And you credited the work?

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

I used 8 of the 13 lines and credited Tom Waits

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

5 out 12 l ines printed on the cd pamphlet

Alex Watts :

Ok. Really you should have sought permission and waited for confirmation as you know.

Alex Watts :

But in reality as long as you didnt use most of the work and you have credited it, then that should not be an issue.

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

email: *****@******.*** as I am not sure I gave it before

Alex Watts :

It is only where you have used significant portions of work or not credited it, would that be an issue

Alex Watts :

But in this instance you have used some and credited the work

Alex Watts :

So I think based on you have said, it should be ok

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

In US law too?

Alex Watts :

You have posted this in UK law. So I have answered it as such here.

Alex Watts :

If they are in the USA and the infringement occurred here it would need to be litigated in the UK

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

But the book is available through amazon and so can be obtained in usa and worldwide - oh, I see you have answered this question.

Alex Watts :

Yes :)

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

Thankyou.

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you?

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

Inter net procedures - How can I reach these pages once we finish

Alex Watts :

Once you rate the format changes of this so you can come back to it at any time.

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

Do you mean to the record of our chat or to the site - I mean the record of it one the site

Alex Watts :

The record of our chat I am referring to yes

Alex Watts :

I can have it removed (our chat discussion) after you rate if that is what you mean?

JACUSTOMER-erxlmnv1- :

Do I click Save and exit and then Rate below and Finish afterwards.

Alex Watts :

If you click rate first. Then once its rated it will be saved.

Alex Watts :

Then if you want it removed, tell me now, so once you rate I can get that done

Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Just to point out again that I did try to contact Tom Waits through sites with his name and finally through Facebook. The problem was not being able to contact him.

When that had failed I could not see how I could get permission.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Indeed. But that does not get away from the point that permission should be sought, regardless of whether or not you can find him.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

You did not say that yesterday. You said that I should be all right! Not sure now what you intended.

I am presuming that it is not a matter of criminal law but a case where one might be sued for damages. The book is my first published work, self-published at that and I, not the publisher, am responsible for such issues if they occur, I believe. It is a memoir of growing up and not likely to have a huge sale. I would be glad to get my costs back from sales but who knows? A guilty party in such a case would be facing what kind of damages. Approx how much? On what does the sum depend.

Will I now be faced with another bill?

My praise for the last opinion was perhaps because you said it might be all right or words to that effect. I turns out that was not the full picture. I had not realised until today that I ought to have continued to find the musician Tom Waits. What if I cannot, or he does not answer?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
This is not criminal law no.
They can only ask for your profit if you are sued, nothing more.
It may be all right and make no difference, but ideally permission should be sought. Not be able to find someone does not absolve you all together, it certainly helps though.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

do you mean all of the profit?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Yes.
But only if you are found against.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I see, thanks. I am clear on this point now. Thankyou.

Another point arising since yesterday. The title Good Old World is the title of his song and of my book so my book looks derivative from his song. He was there first.

Yesterday I said that the phrase could not be original as there is a pattern in the English language which produces Good Old Boy. Good Old Soul and therefore Good Old World seem to be produced by the same pattern. If so I would expect to find it elsewhere, not just from Waits. I cannot.

I have just tried a Shakespeare concordance and not found this phrase. If Shakespeare didn't use it so then maybe it is original, coined by Waits.

Or perhaps to put it another way is it damaging to the first user if the title of a book is the same as the title of someone's song!

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
If everyone is copying that phrase then I would not worry!
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Not everyone, not even Shakespeare. Just me. As far as I know.

But there are books with the same title. Not derivative at all. There is a connection between his song and my book - a liked the song and it came to mind, from the words of the song.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Indeed.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My point was that not everyone was copying the phrase as far as I know.

I started yesterday asking about using a quotation with the Good Old World phrase in it to asking about the title of the book which is the same for Waits' song and my book and therefore I must have assimilated it.

There is a different point here from the original. However, I shall pursue Tom Waits further if I can find out where to start.

many thanks from vernon hall

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Ok. best of luck.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have realised that the legal point might be the fact that I have used the name of a song by a well-known musician as the name of my book.

Getting permission for the quotation of lines in the book and not making contact was my earlier worry and could be solved by making contact and is not now my worry.

Can you help with this?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
If you have just used the name, that is fine.
Dont worry.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

what about a challenge saying that I have used the success of the song to my own a financial advantage by calling the book after it?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
They would have to prove that and in any event it would have to be confusingly similar.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Not sure what you mean, Alex.

Good Old World is the name of the song and Good Old World is the name of my book.

They are not confusingly similar. The are exactly the same.

The song has been around for several years. my book is just published.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Is it potentially actionable to publish a book with the same title as a successful song?

Could I be accused of riding on the back of another's success?

(Did you already receive this? It was open on my screen and I wondered if it had been sent)

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Yes its possible because it should be so generic.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thankyou. Not sure what you mean, though.

If you have any other ideas please let me know.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
I think you will be fine.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Or fined?

Many thanks for your help.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Fine.
Alex

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