By Christine Thackeray
Recently, I co-authored a book entitled "C.S. Lewis: Latter Day Truths in Narnia." It was a lot of work to create the project, but the most challenging part was getting copyright for the many Lewis quotes and church quotes it contained. I really got an education and would like to share some of what I learned.
First, the concept of "Fair Use" is a legal myth. Fair Use is not determined by word count but by the publisher. If you go to Eerdmans Website and click on contact us and then under Rights and Policies, they have their fair use guidelines posted, which are very generous. You can use up to 300 consecutive words with a total of up to 5000 without permission.
On the other hand, if you go to Harcourt, they clearly state that "Harcourt, Inc. requires written permission for all reproduction and/or adaptation of our published works." They not only don't have fair use guidelines, but I found they charge considerably more for even the smallest quote. The key is you need to check with the publisher to see what their guidelines are or paraphrase and footnote so copyright is not an issue.
As to the LDS church, they have very clear rules set forth on their website but the bottomline is you have to ask permission for anything more recent than 95 years before 1976 which is 1881. Which makes the scriptures public domain, as far as I understand.
The government has a very good publication on the subject here, if you want to brush up on the details.
Now the reality is that unless your book makes a ton of money or is extremely controversial, you may not be sued for your violation, but it is probably best to play it safe. The most important reason for this is that most publishers have clauses in their contracts that hold the author soley responsible for copyright violation.
So use the quotes you love freely, just remember to ask permission. Once you begin asking you will see that many publishers will allow you to quote for free and are happy that you cited them.