Mandalas by Lisa Shea

Lyrics Contest

I’m working on lyrics for a lyrics contest. Any ideas or suggestions?

From dusk-dappled depths rose the Lady Lake.
The midwinter moon shimmered silvery bright
She stepped lightly onto the quiet beach, and she
savored joy at the longest night.

From out of the wood rode a Nubian
who’d read this conflux in an ancient tome
The scholar’s long decades of studying
led them endless leagues to her hallowed home

War-weary warhorse took a cautious step
drawn by Nimue
knelt his leg and dropped his head, bas-
king in blessings gay

She raised up her hands high above her head
and sent charity singing through the land
and then, with a smile, she did slip away, leaving
moonlit beach and the glistening sand.

Lush Short Story by Lisa Shea

Lush Short Story by Lisa Shea

Hurrah! “Lush” – story #24 in my psychological horror short story series – is now live on Amazon as a standalone ebook.

This is the story I wrote for Moonflake Press for their “Lush” issue.

Thank you to Moonflake Press for choosing me, and thank you to them for allowing me to also publish this as a standalone story!

Here’s Lush on Amazon:

Evil Spirits, Restless Ghosts, and Haunted Souls - Ten Supernatural Tales of Paranormal Gothic Horror and Murderous Misanthropes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Evil Spirits, Restless Ghosts, and Haunted Souls

Hurrah! This just arrived today!

Evil Spirits, Restless Ghosts, and Haunted Souls – Ten Supernatural Tales of Paranormal Gothic Horror and Murderous Misanthropes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

I’ve been trying to publish this for a YEAR with Amazon in paperback format.

Felix wanted to help me celebrate. Good Felix 🙂.

Evil Spirits, Restless Ghosts, and Haunted Souls - Ten Supernatural Tales of Paranormal Gothic Horror and Murderous Misanthropes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Evil Spirits Restless Ghosts and Haunted Souls

Hurrah! Hurrah!! Remember last autumn I published this ebook?

Evil Spirits, Restless Ghosts, and Haunted Souls – Ten Supernatural Tales of Paranormal Gothic Horror and Murderous Misanthropes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Amazon has **finally** let me publish the paperback version. It only took a year. Victory!!

This is a compilation book I created of classic spooky short stories, with my own charcoal drawings as illustrations.

Let me know if you’d like to see a copy!

Amazon Publishing Lisa Shea

Song Lyric Copyright Issues in US and UK

You might think song lyrics are perfectly fine to use in your novel. Using a stunning song lyric can be a wonderful way to convey a mood or tone. However, song lyrics are absolutely covered by copyright law. Since songs are so short, ANY use of lyrics becomes a copyright infringement. While you might quote a line or two from a full-length novel and have it be just a tiny portion of the full work, if you quote a verse from a song you’re giving away a large chunk of the work without permission.

It’s important to understand the law. Song lyric lawyers make quite a lot of money by searching for violators and bringing them to court.

Basics of Song Lyric Copyright

Let me note that I’m not a lawyer. This is my own research from years and years of researching and publishing.

Also, I am not discussing the RECORDING (music) copyright issues. Those get really complicated with each new performance, each new mastering, and so on. I’m solely focused on an author using lyrics in their work. That is my area of interest.

Let me take, as my example, “The Lady Is a Tramp” from the 1937 Rogers and Hart musical Babes in Arms. The team of Rogers and Hart were stunning. Both of them were Jewish men who changed their names to fit in better with American society. Lorenz Hart was gay and had added challenges in the 1930s. He sadly passed away in 1943, at which point Rogers went on to work with Hammerstein, where he had additional success, but Hammerstein was never the wordsmith that Hart was.

My dear friend Melinda sung “The Lady Is a Tramp” at a high school talent show and was stunning with it. So this is a song that’s always near to my heart.

In the late 1930s, Rogers and Hart were in enormous demand and were feverishly creating, from scratch, two full musicals every year for Broadway. Babes in Arms went live on April 14, 1937. All accounts are that these two geniuses created the entire story from scratch in early 1937. Hart was the lyricist, while Rogers was the musical composer. The writing date of the lyrics for “The Lady Is a Tramp” is early 1937. Absent a specific known date, it of course had to have been written by April 14, 1937 as it was being performed on that date.

So what is the copyright status for those lyrics?

US Song Lyric Copyright

Copyright issues in the US are complicated because of Disney. Every time Mickey Mouse is threatened to go out of copyright, Disney steps in and tries to get laws changed to protect him. The US government caved a number of times before finally drawing a line. So the way US copyright law applies depends on when something was written.

We don’t care (for this exercise, at least) about what the laws were in the 1700s or 1800s. We’re just focused on what we, as modern authors, have legal access to use in our works.

Song Lyrics Written Before January 1 1978 under US Law

Again, we’re not talking about what authors had to worry about before 1978. We’re solely focused on what a modern-day author has to think about for works they want to quote which were written before January 1, 1978.

If the work was written before January 1, 1978, and its copyright expired BEFORE January 1, 1978, then that work is in public domain. So Pride and Prejudice, which was published way back on January 28, 1813, is long out of copyright. You can do whatever you want with it. It’s worth noting that morally and ethically that you should not publish it and claim you wrote it. But you can certainly quote it to your heart’s content and rework it to include vampires, werewolves, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

The rule as of January 1, 1978 was that a piece had protection for 75 years from the date of publication. So that means anything written before January 1, 1903 was completely fair game as of that date.

If the work was written before January 1, 1978, and the copyright did NOT expire before January 1, 1978, it gained another 20 years of protective shelter. That meant works now had 95 years of protection. Again, thank Disney for this huge problem. That means suddenly as of 1978 that a giant moratorium of copyright slammed the industry. That did not loosen up for decades. That is why January 1, 2018 became a huge deal. The phrase “Public Domain Day” became important. Things which had been held under copyright for a long, long time suddenly flooded the system.

Part of what also made this important was the skyrocketing growth of self publishing. All of these authors eager to use the Wizard of Oz, Cthulhu, and other works finally had access to them.

So in this example, “The Lady Is a Tramp” was written in 1937. Under the original 75 years rule it wouldn’t have been public domain until 1937+75 = 2012. Since it was still covered by copyright when the rules changed on January 1, 1978, that means it got that automatic extension applied. It now gets 95 years of protection. That means 1937+95 = January 1, 2032 is when this piece comes out of copyright and becomes available.

Note that copyright works in round years. So what matters is which year the piece was written or published in. That then rounds out to January 1 of the releasing year.

Song Lyrics Written After January 1 1978 in US Copyright Law

Any work written after January 1, 1978 has a timeline not based on the writing or publishing date. Maybe that was too hard for people to figure out concretely. It is based on the DEATH DATE of the author, which is usually much more final. The work is protected for a full 70 years after the author dies. So authors need to hope they live a long, long time to protect their estates.

Lorenz Hart died in 1943. Not that it matters, since the rule for his works are covered by his publication/writing date, but if he was covered by an author death date, that would be 1943+70=2013.

Song Lyrics in UK Copyright Law

The UK tends to have much simpler copyright laws, probably because they don’t have Disney corporate lawyers trying to muck things up every five minutes.

In the UK, song lyrics are copyrighted for 70 years after the author’s death. If the author is unknown, the time length is 70 years after the known date of creation.

So again with Lorenz Hart, he died in 1943. 70 years after his death would be 1943+70=2013. So all of his works, whenever he wrote them, are now in public domain in the UK.

What If Lyrics are Public Domain in One Country and Under Copyright in Another?

This is a complicated issue that used to not matter. It used to be clear. If you published a book in the US, at a US publishing house, it was bound by US law.

The current problem is that few things are published “in one place”. If you have a Kindle book, it is sold around the world. If you self-publish a book on Amazon, that book is “printed” in many countries depending on who buys it. The book is printed in a local place and sent to that local buyer.

Websites are even more complicated. Servers can exist cross-country to give fast website speed. If your source server is in the US, but you have cloud servers in the UK, Germany, and South Africa for speed boosting, just where is the content coming from?

It’s generally wise to make sure your lyric-based content is public domain in most major markets before you start using its information. You don’t want to get into a situation where your use of lyrics is perfectly fine in Germany but is wholly illegal in the US.

Publishers can’t hide easily in modern times. A quick google search lets lawyers keep an eye on their intellectual properties at the click of a button. If they get paid based on how many cases they file a year, it’s in their vested interest to track down every small author they can find who is illegally using the work. They “seem better lawyers” if they show that they found 100 people stealing the content, vs getting paid a retainer fee and only finding 2 thefts for that money.

Err on the side of safety. Lawyers like to sue. It makes them money. Authors tend to go bankrupt.

To summarize:

It’s important to take copyright seriously. All of us want our works used in a way in which we approve. It’s proper that we afford those same rights to the authors we work with and benefit from.

Ask with any questions!

Rosetta Stone Learn Japanese Software Issues

Rosetta Stone – Learn Japanese – Software Issues

I’m a teacher, and it has been on my list for a while to learn Japanese, for a variety of reasons. When the Pandemic hit, I knew this was my opportunity. Rosetta Stone has a great reputation for language instruction, and so I began my quest.

Fortunately, I’m a member of the Amazon Vine review team, and Amazon offered me a review copy of the software Rosetta Stone: Learn Japanese for 24 months. I was overjoyed at the opportunity to work with this software and put it through its paces. As I said, it’s been a dream of mine to learn Japanese.

The software never arrived.

No problem, I said, I’ll just buy a copy myself with my own money. I was so in love with the idea of having the Rosetta Stone software that I was quite happy to pay the $70 purchase price to buy a copy. I put in the order in July 2021, and the order began processing. The order then stalled in a “pending verification” status. I wrote Amazon support every week for a month straight, asking when my software would arrive. Each time they apologized for the delay and said I’d have it in 3-4 days.

It never arrived.

Over a month passed. Finally by the end of August an Amazon customer service representative advised I simply cancel the previous order and buy myself a fresh copy. The price had now risen to $90 for the software, but they said they’d credit me the extra $20 after the order went through. So I purchased the Rosetta Stone Learn Japanese software for a second time, although if you count the Vine review copy I never received this was now the third time I had attempted to get the software.

That second August order went through and went into a processing state.

There was no way for me to manually cancel the initial July Amazon order through my interface, so ten minutes after my purchase I went into the Amazon help system and asked the Amazon support person to cancel the July order. That way I would just receive the new (second) August order.

The Amazon support person mistakenly cancelled my pending August order, leaving the stuck July order in my account. I immediately saw that problem in my order queue.

I contacted Amazon chat support AGAIN, this was only about five minutes later, and informed them that they’d mistakenly cancelled the wrong order. The Amazon support team member apologized profusely. They said they would now cancel the July order like they were supposed to. They asked me to please re-order the Rosetta Stone software (for a third time) and buy it. They said everything would be fine now.

They did cancel the July order.

I went into the Amazon page for the Rosetta Stone Learn Japanese software. Keep in mind this was maybe 15 minutes tops from when I had just ordered the software for $90. The price for the software was now $250. The price had jumped by $160 in the space of 15 minutes. And due to Amazon cancelling both of my existing orders, I was now completely hosed in terms of maintaining either previous price.

I of course promptly contacted Amazon support again. I was kept on the system with Amazon for a total of four hours over the course of this afternoon. Amazon’s team said too bad, even though it was their fault that both of my previous orders were now cancelled, they had no way of honoring EITHER price that I had previously purchased the software for. They also didn’t find it in the least bit suspicious that I had an order placed for $90, that Amazon mistakenly cancelled the order, and that within MINUTES the price leapt up to $250. They said that because of that price discrepancy, I was out of luck. I should go find other software to buy.

I did in fact look for other software. Every other Learn Japanese product from Rosetta Stone is currently reporting as unavailable. The only Learn Japanese product available is this one entry which used to be $90 but is suddenly $250.

At the end of the four hour chat, including talking with managers, I indicated that I needed to go teach a class. I’m a teacher, which is part of why I need this software. The chat system indicates you have a full 24 hours to resolve issues at your own pace. I left all the chat windows open. When I returned to my computer, the Amazon team had ended the chat on me which also meant that all of our conversation was now gone. I had no way to document any of it.

I’ve been a loyal client of Amazon’s since 1998 and have always lauded their customer service and support. I am absolutely flabbergasted by this situation and how it has dragged on for over a month.

This should have been a simple software transaction. How it could have taken a month to send the software to me, software which said on the Amazon page was in stock and shipping quickly, makes absolutely no sense. And then for Amazon to cancel both orders on me in the space of twenty minutes, and then stick me with a $250 price tag on $70 software, seems fairly questionable. Never mind shutting down our chat.

I went back to the software page on September 1st. The price had dropped again to $90. I put in a fresh order – my 4th attempt to get my hands on the Rosetta Stone software, for those keeping track. It claimed there were 4 copies in stock and I’d get my software by Monday. The software is now stuck in a Pending Verification state.

I used Amazon chat on Sept 2nd to talk to a rep about it. They say it’s out of stock (even though the public screen says it’s in stock) and I’ll get emailed eventually when it comes into stock. They had no thoughts at all about how many orders were pending, when inventory might come in, or when I might get the software. So I’m expecting to go through months of problems once again, with me only getting “it should be available soon” messages from their support team.

Buyer beware for anyone who tries to order the Rosetta Stone Learning Japanese software.