Content Services 2012: The Challenge in Text Permissions
In publishing, imitation is definitely not the best form of flattery. In fact, using another person’s work—be it a small paragraph or an obscure quote—without proper permission may lead to copyright litigation.
The first, and most critical, step in rights clearance is determining what resides in the public domain and what does not. To put it simply, one can quote Shakespeare’s plays without obtaining permission or pay any fees, unless one quotes lines from a specific edition published by a certain publishing house.
But when it comes to works by, say, e.e. cummings or Jack Kerouac, clearance is required, unless one wants to invite infringement suits.