Some years back, I had written an editorial for The Air Force Times. Well, this article went a little viral, featuring on John Q. Public's page. (John Q. is a popular online critic of the Air Force and a former Lieutenant Colonel).
Fast forward a few years. Today, I had found out that the person I wrote about wrote a book, and in that book it mentioned me and my writing piece. I've learned to celebrate small successes as a yet-to-be-traditionally-published author, and one of my dreams was to be mentioned in another relatively prominent writer's book. So, naturally, this is a happy event for me. However...
I'm curious to know why I wasn't notified. Are there any permissions that should be obtained on his end? I should also mention it was properly referenced in the back of the book.
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy as heck to find this out and am not going to do anything but rejoice, but now I'm wondering if my works are mentioned or referenced in other books. After all, you did tell me once that permissions must be sought by the copyright owner before use. Which I suppose raises a secondary question: If I write an editorial to a newspaper and it gets printed, does the newspaper own the copyright or do I? Cheers!
Permission is required to quote from your work in chunks longer than a sentence or two (generally.)
Permission is NOT required to refer to you and your work.
If I want to collect and publish a selection of blog contest entries, like this one from Kitty,
“And then she saw Catherine Higgins, Mrs. Platt said, after she hit her with her vehicle,” said the officer.
“Ms. Higgins said nothing’s broken, it was an accident and she won’t press charges,” said the Chief. “Thank God that sweet old lady was driving slow and doesn’t know Arthur is seeing Ms. Higgins.”
Later, Arthur told his wife, “That Buick is simply too big. You can’t see over the steering wheel.”
“I can see just fine.”
“You need a smaller car.”
“Stop seeing Catherine or next time I’ll gun that Buick. This time I only stunned her.”
I will need Kitty's permission to use the entire entry.
I could quote just the last line, most likely, and call it fair use.
I will NOT need her permission to say "Kitty's entry about Mrs. Platt and the Buick cracked me up."
In all instances, I will need to cite where Kitty's entry can be found, so that other readers can see the original source and make sure I'm not misquoting, or bowdlerizing Kitty's entry.
This reminds me of the gent in Maryland who wanted to preclude a newspaper reporter from writing about him without his permission. Of course, since he was an elected official, he was pretty roundly ridiculed for not understanding the basics of the first amendment. While you are not a public figure or a politician, if you write about someone, it's not a big leap to assume they in turn might reference the work.
If you think about this, you'll see that requiring permission to talk about an author's work would stifle any kind of free discussion, academic analysis, and most of this blog. A calamity in the making!
In addition, a writer can quote from a work without needing permission if the quote falls under Fair Use. The rules for that are too complex for this blog post, but generally think short in length and scholarly in purpose.