Friday, August 27, 2010

Editing Tip #43: Permissions (part three)

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.

(part three)

There are a couple of things you may want to use in your manuscript that require special attention from a permissions standpoint.

Songs and Poems

Titles of songs and poems may be used freely, as titles are not copyrightable. However, reprinting lyrics (even just a few words) requires written and signed permission from the copyright holder (unless it is in public domain). A few words of a song or poem constitutes a far greater percentage of the whole piece than a few words quoted from a book.

The responsibility for determining whether a song is in public domain, and obtaining permission if it is not, rests solely on the author’s shoulders. This is not the duty of the publisher. However, both you and the publisher could be held liable for copyright infringement if you quote lyrics without permission.

The Bible

The King James Version is in public domain, so you may quote from it to your heart’s content as long as you acknowledge it in the front matter of your book.

All other versions and translations of the Bible are protected by copyright. Different versions have different stipulations for the number of verses you can quote under “blanket permission.” Check the copyright page of the Bible you wish to quote from and contact the publisher for details.

All Bible versions quoted in a manuscript require a Scripture copyright notice in the front matter. If you have quoted from a single Bible version throughout, start this notice with, for example, “Scripture quotations in this publication are from the New King James Version.” If you have used one version predominantly, preface the notice with the phrase “Unless otherwise noted.” All other versions are identified starting with, for example, “Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from…”

The sole or predominant version is not identified in the text. Alternate versions are identified in parentheses (in ALL CAPS) with the verse’s reference.


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail


Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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