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Understanding Copyright - fair use / fair dealings  RSS feed

 
master steward
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Some of you might know I've written a book.  

While researching publishing, I've discovered that copyright is way stronger than I first suspected.  

In University they taught us it was okay to use small quotes so long as it was properly attributed.  The quote has to be as small as possible to get the meaning across and the reader needs to easily be able to see where the quote came from.  Whenever possible, it's better to paraphrase than quote.  But that's what they taught me.  Publishing a book seems to be more complicated than that.

Some resources say that any quote, even if properly attributed, can cause a major lawsuit and cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

Other resources talk about Fair Use (USA) and fair dealings (UK/Canada) which say a small quote from a large work like a book (but not a small work like a poem or song) is okay under some situations.

Other say that written permission is easy to get, others say it's impossible.

I have two quotes, each about three sentences long, that I want to use in my book.  One I want to use because it's iconic and makes a brilliant segway to my next topic and the other is an example of how things used to be done and I talk about why people used to do things that way and how it's a good starting place but also what happens if we don't do it that way.

Anyone know of a resource that makes this comprehensible?  Do I have to remove the quotes?
 
pollinator
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In the US, it depends on the intended use of the quote, and also on the source of the quote.  Creative works appear to be more protected than factual works:

"Nature of the copyrighted work:  This factor analyzes the degree to which the work that was used relates to copyright’s purpose of encouraging creative expression. Thus, using a more creative or imaginative work (such as a novel, movie, or song) is less likely to support a claim of a fair use than using a factual work (such as a technical article or news item). In addition, use of an unpublished work is less likely to be considered fair."

https://www.copyright.gov/fair-use/more-info.html

Is it not possible for you to ask the author(s) for permission to use the quotes?

If you can't hire a copyright lawyer to give you a definitive answer, and you're worried about being sued, personally I would say leave it out.  
 
pollinator
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My first thought would also be to try to seek permission first. You don't know til you ask.

That lacking, I can ask this in a forum where some of my editing colleagues chat- I know a few of them do just this for a living (obtain permissions for their authors). I know from their conversations that it is often time and cost intensive, but it's worth asking.
 
raven ranson
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I want to use a quote from the novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) in my book, but I'm having trouble finding the owner of the rights to the book.

How do I go about doing this?
 
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Raven, well, Douglas Adams used to say that all questions about him should be asked of Neil Gaiman, who had a better memory of the facts of Douglas' life than Douglas!...But, wouldn't Polly Adams be the copyright holder, now that Jane is gone, as well?
 
Tereza Okava
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I think this might be a rabbit-hole kind of question, since there were so many different versions of HGG (radio, stage adaptation, novels, graphic novels, film, omnibus editions....) heaven forbid you pick a passage that is identical in a film adaptation, for example, then do you have to get permission from the film rights owner as well?

It appears that HHG was released hardback in the US in 1980 by Random House, so if you have a 1979 version it may have been the UK version, which was published by Pan Books, which today is British MacMillan  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_Books (your book will certainly list the publisher). I would contact them and ask who holds the rights and how to contact them for permissions.


Edited to add:
It just occurred to me that it might save you SO much time and effort to just change the way you considered using the passage. To cite a reference, you need no permission. Maybe you're considering a Stephen King-style standalone quote between chapters or something, but maybe you can rework it to just start the chapter by saying in the text itself "As Douglas Adams wrote in HHG, xxxxxxx"
 
raven ranson
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This has ended up being too complicated so I'm paraphrasing.  Less awesome but it will work.

Now, the next quote...

The Book of the Farm by Henery Stephens circa 1844 - but abridged and reprinted more recently.  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00PPH89II/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

The passages I want to quote appear in both editions.  
 
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