Asking the Wizard
February 12, 2017 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I want to use a two-sentence quote from the Wizard of Oz in a personal writing project. Since every word is probably copyrighted, how do I go about getting permission to use it?
posted by CollectiveMind to Law & Government (7 answers total)
The book or the movie? The book is in the public domain.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:08 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

You don't need permission for that. Even if the book was published last week, fair use rules mean you can quote two sentences without permission; if you were quoting 11 out of 12 chapters of a new book it would be a breach of copyright because of the high proportion of the work being reproduced. But regardless of all that, the statute of limitations of the Wizard of Oz's copyright has expired, so you can reproduce the whole work if you like.

If you're in the US, this is what the statute of limitations is:

95 years from publication or 120 years from creation whichever is shorter (anonymous works, pseudonymous works, or works made for hire, published since 1978)[229]

95 years from publication for works published 1964–77; 28 (if copyright not renewed) or 95 years from publication for works published 1923–63 (Copyrights prior to 1923 have expired, not including copyrights on sound recordings published prior to February 15, 1972, covered only under state laws.)
posted by matthew.alexander at 8:16 AM on February 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

I think the book is in the public domain - there are adaptations and pastiches everywhere.
posted by thedarksideofprocyon at 8:27 AM on February 12, 2017

Quoting two sentences of a prose work qualifies as "fair use" even if a book is still in copyright – unlike The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was published in 1900 and is thus in the public domain.

My recollection is that courts have taken a more narrow view of how much quotation of poetry constitutes fair use.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:21 AM on February 12, 2017

I want to use the quote from the coroner declaring the WWotE dead. Is that in the book verbatim?
posted by CollectiveMind at 11:29 AM on February 12, 2017

No, that scene is not in the book, which is quite different from the movie. Project Gutenberg link to the text of the book. Might still qualify as fair use, though
posted by basalganglia at 12:02 PM on February 12, 2017

No coroner in the book, only in the movie.
Book's chapter two, The Council with The Munchkins versus 1939's script.
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 12:03 PM on February 12, 2017

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