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Who Owns Quotations?

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by Waytogo, Aug 13, 2009.

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  1. Waytogo

    Waytogo Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My jurisdiction is: California, USA

    I am working on a non-fiction book project and have collected numerous quotations from individuals who have themselves been interviewed and quoted in newspapers and magazines. I want to use these quotations in my book and need to clarifify when permission is needed from the copyright holder of the newspaper, magazine or internet web site.

    For example, John Doe is quoted in the New York Times as saying "Obesity is a big fat problem in America." I want to use the quoted material and do not necessarily want to credit the NYT and get their permission to use these words. I'm not trying to take credit for obtaining the quote myself, but endless repetition of newspaper and magzine names will, in my judgment, detract from the overall reading experience.

    Clearly, I could contact that person being quoted and try to get them to repeat the same words -- an onerous and time consuming task.

    One further clarification for now: These are not lengthy quotations, but rather relatively short excerpts. Does that make a difference?

    I see this book as a journalistic enterprise. Does that give me any special privilege?

    If you were the attorney for a book publisher, would you require me to obtain permissions to quote quotated material?

    Do you know of a good reference on this subject?

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    With regard to quotes, it's likely that your use would qualify under the "Fair Use Exception" of Copyright Law. If my word isn't good enough, you can go to the government's copyright FAQ. :) Here is a quote from their Can I Use Someone Else's Work FAQ

    How much of someone else's work can I use without getting permission?
    Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances. See FL 102, Fair Use, and Circular 21, Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.


    Here is one interesting fact to consider - your "compilation" of quotes and arrangement and sections might be copyrightable. Best of luck with your book!
     

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