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Home > Tibbetts' POV                           Share this article with others!
Do I Need Permission to Use a Song?
by Peggy Tibbetts, Send your writing questions in!
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Peggy Tibbetts is a writer, editor, and full member of SCBWIPeggy Tibbets' POV: The world of children’s book publishing can be confusing and frustrating. In this column, Tibbetts offers her point-of-view in response to writers’ burning questions about writing and illustrating for children. As an Author, Associate Producer, Managing/Contributing Editor and Columnist, Tibbets knows what she's talking about! Check out the many articles by Tibbets under the category Tibbetts' POV.

I am a beginning writer. I have written a couple of short stories for the 0-2 age group. When reading one of the stories, you actually sing it to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." When submitting this, do I have to list the copyright for this song? How do I go about this? Also, I have been reading the Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market and looking for publishers who specialize in very young children's books. A couple of publishers refer to board books and novelty books. I know what a board book is, but what is considered a "novelty" book?

Public Domain Website LogoTo answer the first part of your question, according to the Public Domain Infomation Project, "Music and lyrics written by an American author and published in 1922 or earlier are in the Public Domain in the United States. No one can claim ownership of a song in the public domain, therefore public domain songs may be used by everyone." "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is listed under the category, Song Lists as part of the public domain.

Writer's Digest is currently running an excellent article on copyright, A Writer's Guide to Fair Use in Copyright Law, by Howard Zaharoff, a copyright attorney who explains that the boundaries of copyright protection aren't as firm as you might think.

Novelty books are pop-up, lift-the-flap, pull-the-tab, or other types of books that are marketed as both a toy and a book. Novelty Books at provides several links for more information.

Ten Little Dinosaurs by Pattie Schnetzler is another example of a novelty book. Read her interview, More Than Meets the Eyeballs, on

Peggy Tibbetts is a writer, editor, and full member of SCBWIPeggy Tibbetts is the author of the children's novel The Road to Weird, as well as the adult novel Rumors of War. She was managing editor and columnist at She has also worked as an associate producer of educational videos for Upper Midwest Films, contributing editor for Children's Magic Window magazine, and Children's Writing Resource Editor at Contact Peggy at: peggyt"at"


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