How much can be quoted without permission

The Chicago Manual of Style provides an often-quoted succinct guideline that a quotation of more than 500 words of prose from previously published material still in copyright requires permission from the publisher. Some editors recommend permission for as few as 300 words of prose (Germano, 2001). These 300-500 words apply to the entirety of the article or book in which they will appear. If you are using a series of brief excerpts throughout the text, it is your responsibility to tally them.

Incidentally, the rules are somewhat different for poetry and song lyrics, being limited to four percent of the original work. Play it safe and ask for permissions on these. Publishers of song lyrics, in particular, are notably stern about unauthorized use of their property.

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