Is this not done and against the law?

janvdc Member Posts: 24 Member
edited September 2022 in Social Club


I want to use the lyrics:

We could be heroes

we could be heroes

just for one day

You maybe know this vocal from David Bowie

I don't want to steal, and a am creative enough ,but this is a line in my track

Is this forbidden, or i can sing we can be heroes..

Don't be angry, this is for a edm track nothing to do with david bowie"s track




  • PK The DJ
    PK The DJ Member Posts: 844 Guru
    edited September 2022

    In my opinion it should be obvious that you can't do that.

    Those words in that order are clearly from the David Bowie track, so you should seek permission from Warner Chappell Music, which will either be denied or will cost you more than your track is likely to make from sales (assuming that's the plan).

    Even something that's a huge hit, selling in large amounts, can lose money due to paying copyright holders for use of samples, lyrics etc.

  • janvdc
    janvdc Member Posts: 24 Member

    The track is 50 years old, so forever are these frases forbidden? there must be a time limit.

  • PK The DJ
    PK The DJ Member Posts: 844 Guru

    You can read up on copyright law and information about how long after publication it lasts, using the internet and Google.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,756 Expert

    In books it is about 50 years after the death of the author... The same might apply to song text, but I am not sure....

    IMHO using that phrase might violate the copyright, and also not to violate. It is on the fine line in between. It would depend on many, many aspects.

    You may risk it. If your track becomes hit, they will sue you almost for sure. If they would win, hard to say. But even if you change it a bit, it still might violate copyright.

    If you do not expect your track would be hit, you might change the wording a bit. Also you may ask Bowie, or more specifically the author of the text.

  • Ronny Bangsund
    Ronny Bangsund Member Posts: 71 Helper

    I have lost count of the number of uses of "between the devil and the blue sea" I've heard :)

    There's a fine line between tribute and ripping off an artist, but modifying it a little might let you get away with it. I'm not sure if there's been a test case for the lyrical equivalent of a few bars.

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,473 Expert

    I think you will be fine personally, there is a difference between using a few words spoken yourself and ripping the actual tune/sequence/sampling itself.

    There are countless examples where a similar verse or even quoted lyrics in something like a diss track are used, the thing is you can't just fine someone without mounting a legal case, with costs and such, which maybe if the artist was making a mint off your actual work you could justify, but the fact you are asking on this forum suggests you do not have a legal adviser or production team to answer this, so chances are you are not hitting the million record sales so again, chances are what you make will not even reach the ears of anyone that would care about it (in the nicest way of saying). There would be more chance of the audience taking offence to the likening of the lyrics or feeling it's a cheesy piggyback on an artist who has passed.

    If there was an issue, you may be initially requested to take down the material and remove the offending part more than direct legal action so really up to you if you feel that choice of lyrics would make your song better. If in doubt I would suggest consulting proper legal council or maybe just change it to mean the same thing but using a different approach... "We could be people that excel at our enigmatic tasks, just for 24 hours"

  • Monochrome
    Monochrome Member Posts: 1,065 Expert


    But... these lyrics are so borderline generic, you shouldn't face any issues whatsoever.

  • D-One
    D-One Moderator Posts: 2,731 mod
    edited September 2022

    You're fine. People quote small portions of lyrics all the time.

    If your song has 50k plays or less no one cares, if it ends up with 5 billion plays then maybe a publisher might start a problem but then you're rich enough to hire a lawyer to deal with it. I've been noticing that lately unofficial full-blown remixes that get very popular actually became official, so both parties get the bag 💰 and promo.

    Just avoid anything from Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and you're good.

  • janvdc
    janvdc Member Posts: 24 Member

    A lot of interesting opinions,

    thanks all.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,756 Expert

    A agree with D-One.

    I would add:

    Generally, most people break many laws including copyright very often. It becomes almost impossible to live decently and not to break any law.... (It sort of reminds me of 'communistic times'. People had to break the laws every day and the system accepted it. Unless, they needed to get rid of that person. Than they came and said, you have broken law in this, this, this and this. Go to jail....)

    So, legaly it might be violation of copyright to use part of the lyrics. But if yes or not depends on many, many things. I guess only very specialized lawyer in copyright could tell you. And he would not say for sure. Because it depends... In my experience most lawyers avoid the intellectual property law like the devil the cross. Because it is like swamp and more about feelings, emotions and uncertainity than pure facts.

    You should be fine using it, althought IMHO there is tiny, small risk. But getting born brings continuous line of risks.

  • PoorFellow
    PoorFellow Moderator Posts: 1,652 mod
    edited October 2022

    I think that it's a very good question to ask.

    I myself am completely unable to answer it myself. Because I am sitting there wondering every time that I sit at the keyboard if that tune I try to play is something that I hear before or if it is something that just popped into my head And if it reminds of something that has been heard before then how on earth am I going to get it checked properly if I am supposedly violating someone else's 'copyright' or not.

    I mostly ends up wondering if I am playing a note that has somehow been heard before , I mean god forbid since there is 12 notes to pick from and the keyboard got 61 keys and some even 88 keys, or so I heard, and then how many notes can I put together in a certain way before someone will come along (supported by a legal team) claiming that they did that before I did ! 🤣 😎 😂

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