Is this legal - Citing short segments of other people's free content, providing you credit them...

8 replies
So I want to add some content into an eBook, content that is from free sources, written by other people.

We're talking a few sentences here and there, literally snapshots, ultra light tips etc. Nothing heavy, nothing exclusive.

I want to put this content in my eBook, but it's obviously not my intention to rip people off. Sure, the info is freely available, and I could just rewrite it, but I prefer to be as integral as possible when it comes to such things.

So, my idea was this:

Let's say I start a new section with my own wording...

Now we're going to look at how to do "x". According to Expert A from website "Z", here's what you need to do:

(expert's quote)
"tip a, do this and that, this will happen, that will happen, you can also try this..."
- source:
Is that illegal? Is that reasonable? I have several varying quotes (or citations) that I would like to use...should I take a week or so out of my shcedule and contact all these people via email and ask for permission? Is that even necessary?

Cheers for your help...


When doing a dissertation, or pretty much any further education essays, one of the requirements is to use citations based on your surely this sort of thing can't be illegal per se?

Is there something I am missing, am I just being paranoid?
#citing #content #credit #free #legal #people #providing #segments #short
  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    This is not legal advice.

    Hi, there is an accepted format for using this type of content, citing source is one of the accepted formats, I would do some research into the most commonly used, terminology.

    I would say for instance, that you would at the minimum use a third person perspective, so you would not use a first person quote, then show the citation.

    you would use a third person quote, with the following citation.

    look at how it is done by professional journalists.

    That will be the defining method.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jesus Perez
      Here's a good thread on this.

      This an acceptable way of citing sources?

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      • Profile picture of the author giveusallfreedom

        Straight from the government baby. Can't get any more official than this. Unless of course you don't live in the US. In that case figure it out on you're own. ;^)

        U.S. Copyright Office - Fair Use
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        • Profile picture of the author Chipt
          One thing I do in these cases is to simply create a real bibliography like textbook and other authors do, citing the publisher, author, title, copyright date, page number, etc.

          It is simple enough to footnote in docs these days, too, if you prefer. And I even include the URL to the original text many times as well. I don't want anyone to think I am stealing or plagiarizing their stuff...

          Chip Tarver

          PS -- If time is of no consequence, it's always good to get a release when in doubt. Then you can say, "Used with permission yadayada."

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          • Profile picture of the author Ted Kopelli
            "Fair use" does not necessarily give you permission for monetary gain. Any commercial use of someone else's work should have permission in writing to be safe.

            As stated in the US code, "fair use" is content cited for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research, NOT for commercial monetary gain.

            IM'ers are out!

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            • Profile picture of the author Kay King
              Exactly - I see marketers claiming "fair use" because the idea appeals to them.

              You can use reference quotes in dissertations, theses and other educational materials because "fair use" was initially designed to cover educational use.

              When you say "free sources" that could refer simply to an ability to find the info written somewhere - doesn't mean free to take it.

              Permission is needed. This can be easy to obtain as long as you are willing to give the proper reference. Many authors love to be quoted.


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              • Profile picture of the author Jelasco
                Why not contact these writers and ask them? You may find some who will gladly let you quote a longer section or even write a special article for you. Plus some of them may become affiliates or JV partners.

                Offer to give them a free copy of the entire product if they'll let you use their writing and tell them you'll give them credit including mentioning their website. Free publicity for them.

                I would go that route even if I thought legally I was not required to.
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                • Profile picture of the author espacecadet
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                  • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
                    For what it's worth, this is what I did just today. Paul Myers can verify it if
                    he likes.

                    I emailed him and asked if I could use a paragraph from his TalkBizNews
                    newsletter in my new ebook. He wrote back letting me know that it was
                    okay. Oh, I also offered to include a link to his newsletter as well.

                    To me, that's the way it should be handled.

                    It's not legal advice. It's just good old fashioned courtesy and common
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