I won't attempt to weigh in on all sides of the moral or ethical debates surrounding this contentious issue. Instead, I'm going to share a story about how a great novel inspired a great song.
The story illustrates the unintended consequences of what, at first glance, might strike the author as theft, but upon reflection is revealed as a gift.
Back in 1981, the gothic rock band The Cure released a single titled, Charlotte Sometimes. It's an amazing song (listen below). It tells the story of a young girl who at night mysteriously travels back in time 40 years to switch places with another girl.
The song was inspired by a childrens novel of the same name published by British author Penelope Farmer in 1969.
The Cure's lyrics for Charlotte Sometimes lift direct passages from the novel. The band wrote and released the song without clearing the rights with the author or her publisher.
When the author and her agent first learned about the song, they were livid. After all, here was a writer of limited financial means watching a megaband profit from her story, her title and her words. Was this theft or fair use? Read the links below, then you decide.
In 2007, Penelope Farmer shared her side of the story in two blog posts. The posts are poignant, and might surprise you. Read them here:
#1: http://grannyp.blogspot.com/2007/06/cured.htmlHere's The Cure performing Charlotte Sometimes in Brazil the same year (1996) Ms. Farmer came face to face with Robert Smith. Enjoy.
I don't know about you, but I'm curious to read the book.
Robert Smith (or any other songwriter), you have my permission to take my novel, Boob Tube, and immortalize it into song. Extra credit for turning The Smashwords Style Guide into song.