Can I use a song title or lyrics for my story title?

You may have heard a song which touches your heart and you feel like the title summarizes all that you want to say in your novel, thus you decided to use it for your story title. Are you allowed to do that?

If you have noticed, song titles are sometimes identical. For example, there’s one called Always by Bon Jovi and another with the same title from a Korean singer Yoon Mi Rae which was used as part of the soundtrack for the mega-hit K-drama Descendants of the Sun. There’s I Can Wait Forever popularized by Air Supply in the 1980s and another song with exactly the same title released by Simple Plan. What does this tell you? It’s legally acceptable! In fact, according to Fowler (2011), “titles are not copyrightable” (par. 3); therefore, you are not violating any copyright law for using a song title for your story.

But there was a point in time when you do not want the song title but a portion of the lyrics. This one is a little bit tricky. You need to make sure that the part of the lyrics you want to use is not specific. I think it’s safe for you to borrow I Can Wait Forever If You Will From Air Supply’s I Can Wait Forever because it sounds generic, but if you are planning on using Let’s Marvin Gaye And Have It On by Charlie Puth, the singer who popularized Furious 7 tribute song to Paul Walker See You Again, think again. You might get in trouble. For more information about related issues, checkout this blog by Mark Fowler:


2 thoughts on “Can I use a song title or lyrics for my story title?

  1. Whenever I write a chapter post with a song title, I make sure to put a video from Youtube of the song on it.

    I figure that’s my way of saying “No I don’t own this, but I liked it enough and here’s credit for the song.”

    Chances are I might still get in trouble, but eh. It’s not like I’m making any money.


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