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Anne D.

educational study guides/copyright infringement?

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I am a teacher and have written several original study guides to go with a variety of texts for use in my classroom.  Now, I would like to print and sell these guides.  They are based on works both in the public domain, but mostly not.  Some have quotes in which I have removed sections for kids to fill in the blank from the original work.  All of the guides would have the name and author predominantly on the cover as well as the words STUDY GUIDE, and my name and the illustrator's name.  The illustrations would be original and the rights released to me, however they would be of the characters in the text.  Am I violating copyright to sell a study guide with these parameters?  If the quotes were a problem and I removed that one facet would it be permissable to sell?  Thank you for your time.  This is a wonderful resource.

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2 minutes ago, Anne D. said:

Am I violating copyright to sell a study guide with these parameters?  If the quotes were a problem and I removed that one facet would it be permissable to sell?

 

No way to be certain based on your description.  One would have to review the guides and the texts on which they're based to give an informed opinion.  My guess, however, is that you would be violating the copyrights (at least as to works not in the public domain).

 

My suggestion would be to consult with a local copyright attorney, but my guess is that legally publishing your study guides will only be possible in connection with the publishers of the underlying texts.

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At the risk of getting too deep into the minutiae of copyright law, the owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to do, or license others to do, the following (obviously, not everything listed is applicable to every type of work):

 

1. Reproduce/copy the work;

2. Prepare derivative works;

3. Distribute copies to the public;

4. Publicly perform the work;

5. Publicly display the work;  and

6. In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work by digital audio transmission.

 

In the case of your study guides, the primary issue would be whether they constitute derivative works.  The Copyright Act defines "derivative work" as follows:

 

"A 'derivative work' is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.  A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a 'derivative work'."

 

As you might expect from a definition like that, what is and isn't a derivative work has been the subject of a lot of cases over the years.

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