Do you need permission to use a song in a short film?
Legally you have to have the artists permission and pay him royalties, a penny or two everytime the song is played! That's also a nice thing to do but not many hollywood studios are doing it but they all cry like baby's when someone downloads their stuff! A little hipocracy? Well those stuffed shirts always think they sh*t don't smell! http://www.total-knowledge.com/~willyblues/
Do you need the bands' permission to play their music in your movie?
Directors have to pay to license most songs unless they are public domain or “copyleft” or Creative Commons or something like that. The price varies widely. Small directors usually can't afford to license well-known hit songs from the last several decades. If you are a big name, like Scorsese or Spielberg or Tarantino, you can probably afford any songs you want. If you're a small name you’ll be lucky to get Muzak or songs from some dead guy almost nobody has heard of. Classical music is probably cheaper to license, as well, which is why a lot of indie directors will use classical or old music so the copyright has expired - at least in the USA.If they don't pay to license songs, no major studio will distribute the movie, no major theater will show it and they risk being sued and losing everything if the movie has much publicity or success. Sometimes small indie directors hire musicians to cover a song, which is a lot cheaper or they make up songs in the same style as a popular song. Some directors have copied scenes from old movies with the same style because they couldn't afford to put them in legally. Richard Linklater did this with “Slacker,” imitating a sex scene from “In the Realm of the Senses” he had originally used because he could not afford to obtain the legal rights to use it for mass distribution.
If I write a book based on a song's lyrics, do I have to ask permission from the record company?
First off, I’m not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice. It is, however, common sense advice based on my current knowledge and experience as a writer.I think you’ve already gotten the idea from the other answers, but let me switch it around for you.“I want to write a book where every chapter leads with an illustration by an artist I love. Do I have to ask permission?”“I want to write new lyrics for a tune that I love by my favorite musician. Can I publish the song as being my own and sell it for a profit?”Any time you want to incorporate someone else’s creative work into your project, you have to ask for permission. If it’s published, chances are you’ll have to deal with the publisher as well. Music, art, poetry, short stories, whatever. There is such a thing as fair use. Some of fair use is pretty clear cut (you can’t copyright a title, for example, hence we have many songs titled Hello in the world) but some fair use gets pretty gray. For example, if someone creates a sculpture, and you photograph that sculpture, can you sell that image? (The answer is not obvious and depends on whether it’s in a public place, if it’s considered ‘public art’, and so on.)Whenever there’s any doubt, do your research, and if there’s still doubt, err on the side of caution. For example, it’s ‘common knowledge’ that musicians can incorporate short bits of music from another artist into their own. Well, except when they can’t.DNA was very lucky when, rather than suing, Suzanne Vega and her team decided to buy in on the 2008 sampled version of Tom’s Diner. That example is particularly telling in your situation because they used the whole song.Copyright law can be complicated, befuddling, and yes, it can stifle creative endeavors, but where copyright laws aren’t in place, creators tend to starve. I think that copyright is a bit overprotected in some countries, but I think that’s better than the state of a creative’s ability to survive in places where there is no copyright law. It’s in your own best interest, regardless of whether it seems ‘fair’ or not, to come up with another idea, or write the book but DO NOT publish it, even for free, anywhere.Here’s a clear article that will help guide you on this and future endeavors.10 Big Myths about copyright explained