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Using Quotes from a Book in your Film – Entertainment Law Asked & Answered



Emily wants to know how you get permission to use a quote from a book.

Hi I'm entertainment lawyer Gordon Firemark and this is asked and answered where I answer common Entertainment Law questions to help you take your career and business to the next level.

So Emily's full question was this:

“Would you know how to get permission if you used a quote from a book or have a copy righted in your film?”

Using a single short quote may not require permission.. just proper attribution.

Now, I'm not sure what you mean by “use” a book in your film… but Just referring to or mentioning a book in a film generally doesn't require any permission.  But displaying the cover art or pages from inside might.

If you're copying a bigger portion, or lots of small quotes from throughout the book, then permission IS probably required.

To identify the rights holder, start with the book itself.  Look at the copyright page and identify the publisher. Contact them, and if they control the rights, make a deal.  If they don't control the rights, they'll tell you who does.

Or, you could try to find the author's literary agent (read the acknowledgments section for clues).  And reach out to him or her with your inquiry.

And, one more note, make sure you leave plenty of lead time.  The process of getting permission can't take a lot of it.

I hope this helps or gives you a, little peace of mind.

That's it for this session of Asked and Answered.  If you've got a question you'd like answered here, submit it at


This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

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