I am writing a novel and would like to include some quotes from Kahlil Gibran, Buddha, Rumi who are all dead prophets or religious figures. Does somebody own the copyright to their saying and do I need to ask permission to use them?


  • A lot depends upon the length of the quotation(s). There are “fair use” rules but I’m not sure that quotations in a novel would apply in this regard. While the quotes from Rumi and the Buddha may not be copyrighted per se, the translated texts from which you obtained the quotes probably are copyrighted.

    Should your novel get to publication, you should discuss the issue with your publisher to get their advice. My version of Gibran’s “The Prophet” *is* under a renewal copyright. My advice then is rather simple, when in doubt contact the author(s) or publishers of the works for permission. Dependent upon the length of the quotes they may simply want the text the quotation is from cited in a footnote or endnote. Good luck and I hope this helps.

    May all be at peace.


  • Firstly, Kahlil Gibran, was not a ‘prophet;’ the book he wrote was called ‘The Prophet.’ Kahlil Gibran, was a ‘poet’ and The Prophet was first published in 1923.
    As a rule there are no ‘restrictions’ on ‘copyright;’ however, one ‘MUST’ quote the source from which the reference is taken from.
    If a large amount is used, then you will need to seek permission from the relevant publishing house.
    Edited on:
    I have just read some of the other answers to your question; please note the following:
    ‘It is not fair game, and it is not public domain.’
    If you are using material from another book, that book is covered by copyright laws; you may use material from it if you quote the source, if you use a large amount, you ‘must’ seek permission from the publishing house, which is, as a rule, always given.
    If you do not, then under copyright laws, you would be plagiarising, which is taken seriously.

  • I believe that they are all out of copyright by now!

    Gibran is one of my favourite writers. His verse on children is amongst the most profound on that topic. He wasn’t a prophet, he was a Lebanese poet whose writings were collected under the title ‘The Prophet.’

    “An eye for an eye and the world would be blind” (I think?). His quotes are wonderful and many.

    Gibran is out of copywrite because he’s available on the Gutenberg Project website. Furthermore, ‘The Prophet’ was second only to the Bible in sales during the 20th Century.

  • Kahlil Gibran was not a prophet, he wrote the book “The Prophet”. All quotes from “The Prophet” must be attributed as the material is still protected by copyright laws. The others you reference are all fair game, since all material attributed to them is public domain.

  • I haven’t heard of the other Kahlil or Rumi, but Buddha lived a long, long time ago so there probably won’t be too much trouble w/ copyright (U.S. law states that the person who writes a work is the copyright holder for 70 years after he dies – Buddha at least a thousand years ago). The only thing you’ll really have to look out for is whether or not you can infringe on someone’s copyright of a translation of one of these peoples’ work. Try to find older version, or scriptures that are common to several newer translations and you shouldn’t have too much trouble. 😉

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