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Old 08-12-2011, 12:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Legally quoting: paragraph vs. poem vs. chart

What are the guidelines for quoting (with attribution, of course) a chart or graph? My understanding is that:

1) You are USUALLY o.k. in quoting a couple of sentences or a short paragraph, say, 30 to 40 words, WITHOUT formal permission.

2) BUT - if those 30 or 40 words contained a poem, e.g. a haiku, you could NOT quote without permission. The haiku is viewed as an entity.

3) My question is what if those 30 or 40 words included some words written on an arrow, or included a graph or chart (x axis, y axis)? Is the chart or graph automatically considered the equivalent of a haiku - an entity by itself? Therefor you may not quote it without receiving permission.

OR - is the chart or graph considered part of the 30 to 40 words and not subject to special treatment? USUALLY you should be o.k. to quote it?

Thanks for any guidelines you can give me. Publishers are not responding to requests re a textbook I am writing.
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Old 02-03-2012, 04:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The length of the quote is not really the issue. When courts are looking to see if copying has occurred, they mainly look to see how important the quotes are in capturing the essence of the work. A quote that captures the "heart" of the work is likely to be found an infringement, even if it's short. Of course, the longer your quote gets, the more likely you are to be stealing the essence of the work.

That being said, expression is copyrightable, but information is not. What do these graphs depict? If they depict some form of research, you would probably be okay copying the information without violating copyright. The graph itself could be a copyrightable form of expression, depending on how unique it is, but if its just a bar graph or a line graph, it's probably not protectable.

Keep in mind that using someone else's research may not be copyright infringement, but it might still be some form of misappropriation, depending on what it is and how you're using it. Using someone else's book of research to create your own competing work in the same category could land you in trouble.
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