Wikipedia:Lyrics and poetry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Wikipedia article on lyrics or poetry should have an analytical framework that describes the song and its cultural impact. This page discusses how they should be written. For how lyrics and poetry should be displayed, see: Wikipedia:WikiProject Poetry#Style for quoting from poems.

Foremost, copyrights should be respected. In addition, any interpretation of lyrics requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. Do not analyze, synthesize, interpret, or evaluate lyrics yourself; instead, refer to reliable secondary sources that do so.

To be included, works ought to fit into the framework of notability. In general, a song from a b-side to a minor band shouldn't be included (see also Wikipedia:Notability (music) and deletion policy).

Points to avoid[edit]

First you should bear in mind some important points to avoid:

  • Most modern songwriters and poets have not released their works under an open content license and therefore their inclusion in Wikipedia violates their copyright. Copyright usually expires 70 years after the author's death (see below).
  • External links to copyright violations should also be avoided. Many archives and collections of lyrics on the Internet are not licensed and are likely to involve copyright violations.
  • In addition to the main point of not violating copyright, do not write an article that consists only of lyrics. This would be considered a primary source. It may, if it is GFDL-compatible free content, be transwikied to Wikisource, but it could also be speedy deleted by an admin for lack of context.

License considerations[edit]

Copyrighted works[edit]

Quotations of the work within the analytical framework can fall into the fair use provisions within US copyright law (and to a lesser extent fair dealing and related concepts within other jurisdictions). Such quotations can be done through inline text, block quotes, or (in the case of a song) inclusion of an image showing part of the sheet music. However, how much of a song you can quote is open to interpretation, but you should follow the Non-free content policy. Examples of good articles and featured articles on works still under copyright that should be used as guidelines are:

  • W. B. Yeats (includes block quotes from several poems)
  • "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles (includes selected lyrics inline)
  • "The Scientist" by Coldplay (includes selected lyrics inline and audio excerpt)
  • "Love Story" by Taylor Swift (includes selected lyrics inline and audio excerpt)
  • "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan (includes selected lyrics in block quotes and audio excerpts)
  • "Running to Stand Still" by U2 (includes selected lyrics inline and in blocks, and an audio excerpt)
  • "Last Post" poem by Carol Ann Duffy (includes selected lyrics inline and in blocks)
  • "Hey Ya!" by OutKast (includes inline discussion of selected lyrics)

Copyright-expired works[edit]

Generally, these expire in all countries (except Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Samoa) when all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The work was created and first published before January 1, 1923, or at least 95 years before January 1 of the current year, whichever is later.
  • The last surviving author died at least 70 years before January 1 of the current year.
  • No Berne Convention signatory has passed a perpetual copyright on the work.

Consider the following:

National anthems[edit]

National anthems are generally considered to be a special case of fair use if modern, or copyright-expired if older. Examples include:

Wikisource instructions[edit]

If you are adding a new text on Wikisource, follow the local guidelines. Use Template:wikisource-inline at the top of the external links section to link to works on Wikisource (see the documentation). For example, use {{wikisource-inline|Anthem for Doomed Youth}} to link to the poem "Anthem for Doomed Youth". This produces the line below: Works related to Anthem for Doomed Youth at Wikisource

See also[edit]