When I was finishing “Understanding Bob Dylan” I realized I had to get copyright permission for not only the 90+ Dylan songs from which I quote, but the many other songs, poems, novels and books of literary criticism.
Some publishers wanted to charge excessive sums ($150 for a few lines from a Robert Frost poem!), others I couldn’t find out who owned the song (in the case of a few blues songs), and I had to paraphrase. Others (U2 for example) never got back.
My favorite was Springsteen’s publishers. First I had to track down who to pay the copyright royalties to, through an internet search to someone, who gave me his lawyers’ email, to someone else, to the company that deals with his copyright. I originally wanted to quote from 8 Springsteen songs, because they illustrated some of the themes I draw out from Dylan’s lyrics. In the end I received permission to quote four lines from each of four songs, for $10 each. Not a bad deal. So I wrote a cheque to Bruce Springsteen for $40 (-: