Whenever you use a copyrighted verse within your original composition, or if you have written your own lyrics and want to use an underlying copyrighted melody, this is called an "interpolation." You will need special permission from the songwriter administration (publisher) in order to legally distribute. Certain songwriter administrations are stricter than others (some have zero-tolerance policies), while others can be more open to these kinds of requests. If approved, this can involve an upfront fee (advance on royalties owed) and a new work publishing split (a percent of the new work publishing ownership. Most publishers will ask for co-authorship of your song if you decide to register it with your Performing Rights Organization: ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, for example).
We are happy to help you with any interpolation or derivative request through our Custom Licensing services to put you in the best position to succeed, while offering guidance on how to present this through the proper songwriter administration channels.