Friday, July 31, 2009

Smooth, Not Criminal?

Most of the poetry in diluvium is my own. All of the central 8-line poems are original, and the vast majority of the lines in the surrounding ocean are either created specifically for this sequence or adapted from other poems of mine. There are, however, some exceptions that I fear may cause me trouble later on.

I quote from a huge variety of sources, anything from two to eight lines: song lyrics, poetry, computer error messages, scholarly works. At the end of the sequence, I plan to include a Waste Land style set of endnotes: On page x, the lines that begin with y come from source z. In no way, shape, or form do I wish to plagiarize, just collage.

I've recently become concerned about the different between plagiarism (which is readily solved by providing credit where credit is due) and fair use (which is concerned with protecting the use of exact words, whether or not credit is provided). That is to say, if dreams come true, and diluvium gets published, can the poets and bands I crib from come after me for using their lines without permission, in a context they didn't approve?

I'm already starting to write some of the poets, some of whom I've met and will probably be OK with the project. Some are dead, but their works are still under copyright. Some are so big (e.g., U2) that I'll never hear anything regarding permission to use the lines until there's actually a book coming out. I'm going to let large fish and dead fish (who are large by virtue of being controlled by publishers more than individuals) get fried by the publisher, whoever that is, when the time comes.

Anyone out there do a lot of collage work and/or a lot of quoting and have any advice? Am I just being paranoid, since nobody comes after poets for this kind of thing anyway? Am I just being nice, since I might not really have to (by virtue of being under the radar) but choose to tell the people I'm quoting?

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