Recently, on one of my FaceBook groups a question was posed by one of the authors that I hear time-and-time again, “What are the rules for using quotes in books/journals?” So today, I thought I would answer that question here for you as a handy reference.*

To start out, any meaningful, significant, copyrighted phrase, and music lyrics can not be used without the expressed permission from the source. Sometimes that means months, and even years if ever, of waiting and/or payment to do so. If you are wondering what ‘significant’ means it is more than 30% or the ‘meat’ of the work.

Here’s how it is officially stated.

“In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.”

Now, direct quotes with attribution either following or in bibliography or End/Footnotes, and Bible passages with the publisher provided attribution on the copyright page are all allowed.

Photographs that have fallen out of copyright date and/or government provided do not require attribution. Unless specified as common use, photographer, artist attribution is required. Also, TM or R should be placed after each use of a Trademarked or Registered piece, but my IP attorney says you CAN get away with just first use.

Okay, let’s look at Bible passage quotes for a minute.

Each version of the Bible, e.g., KJV, NIV, TNIV, AMS, etc. must carry on your copyright page a sourced scripture copyright. You can check the company, i.e., Zondervan and they will tell you exactly what they need to see on your book copyright page. However, when quotations are used in non-salable media such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies or similar media, a complete copyright notice is not required, but the initials of the version must appear at the end of each quotation.

The one exception to the above rule is the King James Version of the Bible. This, and only this version requires only one line added to your copyright page: “All Scripture quotations are taken from King James Version of the Bible.”

Here’s a sample of what a copyright page for a Scripture Quote would read like. But, remember, each version will be different. If you only use one version of the Bible you only have to say All Scripture … otherwise you should state it as Scripture marked …

New King James Version
Scripture quotations marked “NKJV” are taken from The New King James Version / Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville : Thomas Nelson Publishers., Copyright 1982. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Another thing to note is that the NIV 2011 (actually copyrighted 2010) version of the Bible is no longer allowing you to quote it. This is due to “gender-related” language problems it previously identified in the TNIV.*

So, if you have any 2011 NIV quote, then you probably want to go back and resource them and change your copyright appropriately.

The US Copyright Office official stance is:

Works Created on or after January 1, 1978
The law automatically protects a work that is created and fixed in a tangible medium of expression on or after January 1, 1978, from the moment of its creation and gives it a term lasting for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years. For a “joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire and anonymous and pseudonymous works, the duration of copyright is 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter (unless the author’s identity is later revealed in Copyright Office records, in which case the term becomes the author’s life plus 70 years).

Works in Existence but Not Published or Copyrighted on January 1, 1978
The law automatically gives federal copyright protection to works that were created but neither published nor registered before January 1, 1978. The duration of copyright in these works is generally computed the same way as for works created on or after January 1, 1978: life plus 70 years or 95 or 120 years, depending on the nature of authorship. However, all works in this category are guaranteed at least 25 years of statutory protection.

You can download the PDF of the entire act here:

While you are at it be sure not to forget to use all the appropriate copyright page notices on your book’s copyright page. There are several to consider including Medical Liability, Limit of Liability, and Accuracy of Work just to name a few.

*Although the author and publisher have strived to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this post, we assume no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions or any inconsistency herein.

6 Thoughts on “Give Credit Where and When It’s Due”

    • Davis,
      I am happy to see you find the information provided educational, thought provoking, and comment worthy. I hope you will continue to feel free to share your thoughts in future postings.
      Ginger Marks, CEO

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