How to Legally Use Quotations in Your Book

by | Aug 29, 2016

Every once in a while, I get an email from someone asking about the legalities of publishing a book of quotations they find inspirational, educational, or just plain funny. Their motives are laudable; they want to share these insights with readers. Or their motives are monetary; they think a book of quotes will be easy to put together and quick to sell.

I shake my head. Using a short quote in a social media posting is one thing, but putting together a book or website that relies almost entirely on work created by others raises a wasp’s nest of legal issues. It can be done, but not without doing some homework. In fact, a lot of homework.

Simply giving credit to the original creators of the quotes is not going to be enough to protect you from copyright infringement claims. For every single quotation, you need to determine its copyright status and whether you should get permission.

Or, to break it into steps, for every quote you need to ask —

  1. How old is the quote?
  2. How distinctive is the quote?
  3. How are you going to use it?
  1. How Old is the Quote?

    If a quote was first published before 1923, then most likely its copyright has expired and the quote has fallen into the “public domain.” You may use it without getting permission. For example, you may quote Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Benjamin Franklin, and Confucius.

    But there is an exception for trademarks and advertising slogans. Trademark rights don’t expire as long as the trademark is still in use. Good to the Last Drop for Maxwell House coffee is close to a hundred years old and still protected by trademark law. For more guidance on using trademarks, take a look at Who Says I Can’t Use Trademarks?

    So, if a quotation was first published before 1923 and is not an advertising slogan that’s still is use, there is little risk is using it (although you should always give attribution). For all other quotes, let’s move on to questions 2 and 3.

  2. How Distinctive is the Quote?

    You’ve probably heard that using short quotes is safe. Usually, but not always.

    The general rule is that short phrases are not protected by copyright because they are too short to contain sufficient original expression. That’s ironic since it is harder to write something short and good than to write something long and bland.

    There is no safe-harbor rule on how many words you may quote before you get into infringement territory. I can’t say that you are safe if you use 10, 50 or 100 words, but it’s best to use only what you need. The shorter, the better.

    But there is always some legal risk, because even short quotes may be protected by copyright.

    For example, E.T. Phone Home.

    Four words, assuming you count E and T as words. Yet, a court stopped a manufacturer from selling mugs printed with E.T. Phone Home. It held that the phrase was protected by copyright.

    Courts have held that short phrases are protected if they conjure up images of a copyrightable character, such as E.T. Other examples are Bond. James Bond or Look. Up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman.

    Also protected are short phrases that are distinguished by conciseness, cleverness, and insight, such as Ashleigh Brilliant’s I may not be perfect but parts of me are excellent. Eleven words! But still protected by copyright.

    Many poems and lyrics fall into this category as well.

    So if a quote, no matter how short, is highly distinctive or conjures up a larger copyrighted work, then you need to consider question 3.

  3. How are you using the quote?

    Some uses of copyrighted material are permitted under the doctrine of fair use.

    Fair use is the use of copyrighted material for a limited purpose, such as education, news reporting, commentary, research, or criticism, or a “transformative” purpose such as parody. For more information about Fair Use, see What Every Writer Ought to Known about Fair Use and Copyright.

    The line between fair use and infringement is murky. Courts consider four factors.

    1. The purpose and character of the use. Is it for commentary, criticism or educational purposes? Is it commercial? Is the new work transformative, meaning it has been altered significantly to add a new meaning?
    2. The nature of the original work. Using unpublished works is less likely to be fair use.
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the original work as a whole. The more you use, the less likely it will be considered fair use, especially if you use the “heart” of a work.
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

     
    Judges and juries are not predictable in how they apply these four factors, so no lawyer can guaranty that your use is fair use. Too much depends on the facts of the case, the aggressiveness of the copyright owner, and the perspective of the judge. But here are some examples.

    • If, in addition to using quotations, you add annotations that analyze the development of themes over time, then your book may satisfy the first factor as a scholarly work as be considered fair use.
    • If all you do is cut-and-paste copyright-protected quotes without comment, that won’t be fair use.
    • If you use a couple of quotes by Steven Jobs in a book discussing business management that might be fair use. But if you publish a book containing nothing but Steve Jobs’ quotes that would not be fair use. You are piggy-backing on someone else’s creation and not adding your own.
    • If you use all or a substantial portion of a work, such as an entire haiku or the distinctive lyrics of a song, don’t count on the fair use doctrine protecting you.

    Finally, using copyright-protected quotes on merchandise, such as t-shirts or coffee mugs, is not fair use. It’s too commercial. For similar reasons, I recommend against using a copyright-protected quote on a book cover.

    By the way, hymns and prayers may be protected by copyright just like any other writing. So don’t assume a hymn or prayer is in the public domain if it was written in the last hundred years. You need to do your homework.

What’s the Alternative?

The safest route is to get permission from the owners of all quotes that may still be subject to copyright protection. This is a daunting task, and there are copyright clearance experts to help you.

Or write your own pithy insights. Contribute new quotes to the world.

Now, I predict that this post will generate emails from people accusing me of trying to scare writers with legal mumbo-jumbo. Not so. I am trying to teach writers about legal risks. Writers can and should take risks, even legal risks. But be smart about them. Take risks that improve your work or your reach and avoid those that are careless or worthless.

As I often say, stay out of court and at your desk.

Disclaimer: Helen Sedwick is licensed to practice in California only. This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.
 
Photo: pixabay.com.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

218 Comments

  1. Carla Palacio

    I have decided to write a book about things that go unsaid. I have thought about collecting phrases and asking people to tell me things that they don’t tell or say to others. will I need to individually acknowledge each person or do I need to make sure that I have their permission to do it. not sure as to how I should go about this.

    Reply
  2. S N Sippy

    Hi,

    I take it that it is OK to quote the famous poet Rumi in my forthcoming book? He was born in 1207 , I believe

    Please confirm…Thank You

    Reply
  3. Laura

    Can I legally produce, publish, and sell a book, using my own professional photographs and incorporating biblical scripture and several quotes from many different authors under current Copywrite laws, without seeking permission from every single author of the quotes? How are copywrites considered when it comes to scripture? If the quotes are obtained from online quote databases or websites (freely accessed) do these quotes fall under fair use or would use of these be considered an infringement?

    Thank you

    Reply
  4. Dan Smith

    I’m writing a murder mystery and am using Creationists’ vs. Evolutionists’ research. I was just going to summarize their research and give them credit. Do I need to get permission from the several sources?

    Reply
  5. Samuel Leiter

    Very infornative site. I’m writing a book in which I mention a current dispute stemming from a website’s founder revising the site’s policies. He announced the revision to the site’s 277,000 members in a 350-word email letter. The issue became public and was discussed in detail in Forbes magazine’s online site. I took issue with the revisions and the site founder and I engaged in an email back and forth for a couple of days. Can I publish the letter and the thread without seeking his permission, which, given that I’m being (politely) critical of the policy change he’s likely not to provide? Should I, instead, merely paraphrase, which would weaken how the material is presented?

    Reply
  6. Jacob Webb

    How about re-quoting something from audiobooks? Not just a quote but a story!!! Would it be better to just tell the same story in your own words but give the author credit??

    Reply
  7. shair afzal

    can i give quotes from a book on my twitter If i write the name of author below the quote. What if i write on my twitter account “The qoutes on my twitter accounts are for educational purpise only” and i write many quotes from the books on my twitter.

    Reply
  8. J.D.

    If quotes are used in an “inspirational journal” and only appear in the book periodically, could this be considered “fair use” (the book being primarily a journal and not a “quote book”).

    Reply
    • Jim M.

      No, because it’s a commercial product, also you are just reproducing the material without comment or transformation.

      Reply
  9. Mike

    Umm , sure, you can Confucius, in Chinese. A translation still follows the same rules. Ditto for Quoting Shakespeare in Chinese translation.

    Reply
  10. Nancy Patterson

    I would like to use a short quote from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie in a self-published novel. I understand that copyright for this work is complicated. Would it be safe with proper attribution?

    Reply
  11. T.Heron

    I have a creative non fiction that is based on real journals. There are song quotes here and there throughout, that help really convey the feel and era of the material. Not to mention they are authentic to the original documents. They aren’t the whole songs and all are in quotation marks and the name of the artist is listed. Would this be ok to publish? Or would I need to get permission from each? And if so, how would an average jane go about that. I’d hate to not be able to move forward with this project simply because of this. But I’d also hate to have to remove them altogether. Thank you for any input on this.

    Reply
  12. Maud St. Luke

    I am an illustrator working on a non-profit political pamphlet in the form of a short comic. If I wanted to use ~200 words of an 11,000 word paper, and visually illustrate the social commentary with author credit, how safe or unsafe would that be?

    Reply
  13. Madeline

    Hello,
    This was very helpful, but I still have a question. My book quotes a short poem by an anonymous author that I found online. All I know about it is that Mary Kay Ash found it in Australia several decades ago. Since it is anonymous, should I still try to get permission, and if yes, how?

    Reply
  14. Frank C

    I appreciate the information you provide. I’ve become interested in writing about the stories of people I work with. I understand quotations of printed material and what not for things like research papers, reports, etc.; I understand model waivers for photography, but what if it’s somewhat of a combo?

    My question is: what if a book involves interviewing people specifically for their individual stories? There is some sense of privacy that needs to be maintained from the provider of the stories, but my thought is to credit contributors at the end of the book rather than directly for each story (the individual stories are basically quotes).

    Would a written permission form be required from each contributor if they know they are providing information/stories specifically for publication?

    Thanks for your input

    Reply
  15. Scott

    Thank you for hosting this blog Helen. I have a non fiction textbook, I use for my yoga teacher training. I am considering getting it e-published and offering if for on demand printing. I have two question and would really appreciate your incite:

    (1) – The book is about 75,000 words and I have included 25 quotes from contemporaneous such as Oprah and the Dahlia Lama in various spots to ad levity to the heavy parts. These quotes are all used often on the internet. Should I remove these and stick to public domain quotes prior to 1923 or would I be ok with just leaving them in, as it is an educational book? I am good with just taking them out, as there is no way I could contact these people to get permission, but on the other hand, I like the positive effect they have on the work.

    (2) – In parts of the book I use definitions for such things as mental health conditions. In order to be 100% clear and not change the importance of a single word in the definition, I want to use the definition “word for word” as it appears in the National Institute for Mental Health website, for example. Is a national organization’s public document, such as this, considered public domain, with proper credit or do I need approval?

    Thank for your help…

    Reply
  16. Helen Sedwick

    Steve Adams, If a work is in the public domain because the copyright has expired, then you may quote it without permission. It’s still best to attribute the quote to the original creator so you are not accused of plagiarism.

    Reply
  17. Helen Sedwick

    Meme, This is the sort of question that’s always awkward to answer. I can’t guaranty a copyright owner or judge would agree that any use is fair use. It’s a complicated analysis, and open to various interpretations. So consider the factors that are used to determine fair use. For instance, since a yearbook is not a commercial enterprise, that weighs in favor of your use being considered fair use.

    Reply
  18. Helen Sedwick

    Violet, It would be safest to get permission from the person who wrote the email. Even email correspondence may be subject to copyright.
    Regarding television shows, I can’t say for sure whether using the quotes would be fair use or not. That would be up to a judge. But consider the factors for determining fair use, including keeping it short and using only what you need.

    Reply
  19. Helen Sedwick

    Luke, If you rewrite the words in your own way, and the reference is short, you’ll have a lot risk of copyright infringement.

    Reply
  20. Steve Adams

    Hi Helen, Great post :) is it OK to quote 2000 words from a book that is outside the time frame of copyright law or fair usage policy?

    Reply
  21. Meme Memer

    I want to say “Ya like Jazz?” On my jazz band page in our yearbook. Is that illegal? Because it was a famous quote from the bee movie.

    Reply
  22. Violet

    Thank you for this article! I have a couple questions:

    I’m writing an inspirational memoir and I was wondering, if I were to quote something brief an acquaintance emailed me for the purpose of backing up an experience I had, and then attribute the quote to a fake name as to not reveal her identity, could I do so? Or do I need permission? Is that email copyrighted to her?

    And also if I want to start each chapter with a brief quote from a television show that matches the topic of the chapter, does that fall under fair use?

    Thank you for any help you can give!

    Reply
  23. Shawanda Payne

    I’ve written a devotional and used a few quotes from 2 books. Is it okay to use and if so how do I give credit to?

    Reply
  24. Luke Morphett

    Hi Helen, enjoyed reading your post. I have completed (are they ever complete though?) my first hard science fiction manuscript, it’s just over one hundred and twenty thousand words. At one point I use the most famous portion from Carl Sagon’s Pale Blue Dot (a paragraph). I have change a few parts around to fit with the characters point of view and experiences but it is quite clearly his work.

    In no way am I trying to hide it, on the contrary, I want people to make the connection. My editor seems to think it’s fine, but admits he isn’t sure. Your 2c would be appreciated.

    Reply
  25. Helen Sedwick

    Sumita, Think about it — you are using works created by others in a way that piggy-backs on their success and power. That is the essence of copyright infringement — using someone else’s work instead of adding or creating your own.

    So yes, there is a risk that the rights holders would consider your use to be infringing. It may be that your use is so small that no one cares, but I can’t guaranty that. There is no magic number of words that’s safe. Get permission from the rights holders or consider revising the scenes so you refer to the titles and artists only.

    Reply
  26. Sumita Singha

    I’ve just written a novel and I have used parts of songs from different songwriters such as David Bowie, Hall and Oates and John Newman as a backdrop to a scene or chapter which happens in an English pub and this music is being played. For the Bowie song, I have about 40 out of 267 words (which includes whop, whop whop several times!) For Hall & Oates, 49 words out of 167 and for John Newman, 27 words out of 271. All excerpts have been attributed to the singers. Would this count as copy right infringement?

    Reply
  27. Ricki McCallum

    Hi Helen, I am writing a non-fiction book and want to include Thomas Smith’s Successful Advertising in it. That is 20 different ideas he had concerning effective frequency in advertising. It was written in 1885 and I will give credit to him of course. I have seen this printed on websites and blogs several times. Do I need permission to use this?

    Reply
  28. Helen Sedwick

    I am not sure what you mean. Can you elaborate on your question?

    Reply
  29. Lorna Lewis

    Does the same rule apply for affirmations found online?

    Reply
  30. Ken Bluttman

    Hi,
    Curious what you think about websites that are built around providing quotes. A particular one I see a lot brainyquote . com — there whole business is built on famous quotes. They give attribution, bu hard to image they do anymore than that, given there are many thousands of quotes they use.

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Ken, The bulk of their quotes are old and in the public domain, or they are short enough that they take their chances. I suspect they get cease-and-desist letters from time to time, and deal with conflicts on a case by case basis.

      Reply
  31. Elizabeth McGreevy

    For the non-fiction book I’m writing, there are several different quotes (various single sentences) I would like to use from one article. However, the article was written for a private HOA and the author says it was never published. I found the article on the author’s website during an online search. I do not believe the author wants me to use the quotes, probably because he knows they were misleading. Could I still use them sparingly to prove a point? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Elizabeth, While there is always a risk when you use quotes, you reduce that risk by using only what you need to make a larger point. Fair use covers commentary, analysis, reviews, and similar discussions.

      Reply
  32. Kevin Meyers

    I have written a memoir. There is a phrase I use in the book. I did a search on the internet and found many hits. I looked at many of them and they all had dates in the 21st century. The phrase I used was done in the mid 80’s. Could this be just a common phrase people used?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Could be. Hard to say without knowing what the phrase is.

      Reply
  33. Kevin Meyers

    I have written a memoir. I have a few quotes I contacted the person or business via email or a message on their web site. How should I handle if they never respond?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Generally, if the quotes are short and illustrate the point in a larger work, such as a memoir, then there is little risk. Use only as much as you need to make your point.

      Reply
      • RJanet Walraven

        I’m writing an educational book for teachers. I use a quotation at the end of each chapter pertinent to that chapter. Most consist of a sentence or two. All of these quotations are ones I found by googling the subject of the chapter. Do I need permission from each of those authors, some famous, some I never heard of?

        Reply
        • Helen Sedwick

          You would be relying on the fair use doctrine, which means you are using the quote as part of a larger commentary, discussion, review, or for educational purposes. I can’t say with certainty that you use would qualify, but I advise people to use only what they need in order to make a larger point.

          Reply
  34. Elizabeth McGreevy

    Helen,
    Thank you for your informative article. Maybe you can help me with my question. I am writing a non-fiction book. It is educational, scholarly and contains some criticisms based upon faulty perspectives held by the public. I have obtained a number of Facebook and newspaper comments by readers to illustrate these perspectives. How do I use these in my book?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Generally using short quotes to illustrate a larger discussion point is low risk.

      Reply
      • Elizabeth McGreevy

        Thanks Helen! What constitutes a short quote? One sentence perhaps?

        Reply
        • Helen Sedwick

          Some people say 15 words; others say 30. However, if the original work is short, let’s say a poem or lyrics of fewer than 100 words, then using any distinctive phrase could be a problem, again depending on the context. Use only as much as you need.

          Reply
  35. Tina

    Hi Helen, thank you for this article. I am writing a nonfiction book and would like to use a couple of quotes on goal-setting. I have found three simple ones that I would like to use in one section of the book. All are around 10 words. Would I need to get permission for that?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Tina, the general rule is that short phrases are not protected by copyright. No guarantees the original writer of the quote won’t see it differently, but typically using a short quote as part of a larger discussion and commentary is low risk.

      Reply
  36. ROBERT

    Hi, I have two questions for my book:

    Can I quote a dictionary?
    Can I also recommend another writer and his book in mine?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Robert, First, the easy question — yes, you have recommend another writer and work by name and title.
      Quoting the dictionary — it depends. If the entry is fairly new and unique, it may be subject to copyright. If it’s been around for decades or is generic, then it’s probably not covered by copyright. My guess is most standard dictionary entries are not protected by copyright.

      Reply
        • Victoria

          Hello I am looking to publish books on a variety of subject. My plan is to use some quotes and statements of people (writers, speakers .etc)
          The info is being use to teach, and give clarity about quotes and statements. Every material used will have the author credit along side it and in a special section in the book

          The books will be for sale. Can I do this without copyright infringement and if so what are the requirements.

          Thank you for your help with this.

          Reply
  37. ROBERT

    Hi Helen. In my book (that is not yet published) I have a quote from Philoctetes from 409 bc who states “No Good e’er comes from leisure purposelessness and heaven ne’er helps the men who won’t act”. Algernon Sidney later came up with “God helps those who help themselves”. Benjamin Franklin used it in Poor Richard’s almanac. Would it be ok to use this information?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Robert, Something that old would certainly be in the public domain and you may use it without permission

      Reply
  38. Andrew Lowe

    Hi, Helen.

    I’m working on a novel where the main character is reading a non-fiction book that inspires/informs his actions. I have two moments in the novel which quote from the non-fiction book. The first is xx words, the second xx.

    Is this reasonable, given the context?

    Thanks.
    Andrew

    Reply
    • Andrew Lowe

      Oops. Sorry.

      First section is 20 words, second is 43.

      Reply
      • Helen Sedwick

        Andrew, Using short phrases from a much larger work in a larger expressive work is typically allowed. But I can’t say for sure in an online comment. It’s always a case-by-case decision

        Reply
        • Andrew

          Thanks, Helen. Appreciate you taking the time to reply. :)

          Reply
          • Robert Shipley

            Thanks Helen!

  39. Diana

    Hello, I am writing a self-help book and would like to have a quote by Maya Angelou in the beginning of the book. Do you think it would be okay to do this or would I have to get permission from her family since she is deceased? I appreciate any thoughts and thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Diana, It would be safer to get permission. If you use the quote without permission, there is always the chance the family might ask you to remove it. Or they might not know or care. You have to decide whether it’s a risk worth taking and how might you reduce that risk, such as using as little of the quote as needed as part of a larger expressive work.

      Reply
  40. Lana McHugh

    Thank you for this informative post. I apologize if this has been asked previously, my question is who do you get permission from if the person being quoted is dead? I am writing a children’s biography on a person who is deceased, there are many quotes attributed to this person available from many sources such as other books (some written by the person himself and some written about him) and films. The biography I am writing would include quotes, but the quotes would be just side notes or intros to the rest of the text of the biography. Who do I ask for permission?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Lana, It would be safer to get permission. If you use the quote without permission, there is always the chance the family or the publisher might ask you to remove it. Or they might not know or care. You have to decide whether it’s a risk worth taking and how might you reduce that risk, such as using as little of the quote as needed as part of a larger expressive work.
      Regarding who to ask, start with the publisher of any book that contains the quote. The publisher may have the exclusive rights to use it, not the heirs.

      Reply
  41. Nicole

    Hi, I am writing a drama/romance fictional novel based during World War 2 and wondering if I can quote President Roosevelt’s ‘A day that will live in infamy’ speech as it is very important to the novel. I do not wish to alternate it in anyway. It as if the characters are listening to his speech in 1941 over the radio.

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Nicole, I suspect that the speech is not protected by copyright since it was written while FDR was president. In that case it belongs to all of us. But you should probably do a little research to confirm that.

      Reply
  42. Chris

    I’m writing a novel about a literature class and want to pluck quotes from various works; however, some of the interpretations of the quotes are subjective. Would that be an issue regardless of getting permission? Also, if a work was published in the early 20th century, but translated to English just recently, would that be an issue?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Chris, The translation would be subject to a new copyright, so it is an issue.
      Merely giving credit to the original writer may not be enough if what you are quoting is protected by copyright or how you are using it does not qualify as “fair use.” You need to go through the risk analysis I lay out in the blog post.

      Reply
      • Lee

        What if I’m the author of a quote?

        Reply
        • Helen Sedwick

          Lee, If you wrote the quote, then you own it and may use it any way you want unless you have given a publisher exclusive rights to use that material.

          Reply
      • Chris

        Thank you for your reply, Helen. I just have one more question for you that I have been unable to get a clear-cut answer to: If a work of literature is available online for all to view, even post-1923 works, does that mean it is in the public domain?

        Reply
        • Helen Sedwick

          Chris, Not necessarily. If you see the quote online, check for a copyright notice. I would do a little research to confirm your hunch that the work is public domain.

          Reply
  43. stewart j zully

    If I mention who’s quote it is, do I need permission?–I have some quotes from some people who are deceased–Leo Durocher, broadcaster Mel Allen, etc.; I have a few quotes form living writers, but each time I mention their names and their quotes are said in a positive manner.
    Anotehr question is may I use the name of a famous place in the title of my book?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Stewart, Merely giving credit to someone may not be enough if what you are quoting is protected by copyright or how you are using it does not qualify as “fair use.” You need to go through the risk analysis I lay out in the blog post.

      Reply
  44. Carol Perez

    I’m selling body products and want to use a quote on the box/packaging. Do I need permission for that?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Carol, Absolutely, especially if you are using the quote on packaging since that is considered the equivalent of an advertisement. If the quote is old, let’s say 100 years old, then you don’t need permission, but if it’s anything more recent than that, get permission.

      Reply
  45. Sandra

    Hi Helen,

    I have used quotes from Public Domain books (as far as I can tell from Google searches) to back up my own written notes for a course I created. I would like to turn the notes into ebooks and wondered if it’s ok to keep the quotes which back up my own writing.

    I have referenced each author and relevant book for under every quote (Mostly Charles Haanel, Neville Goddard and Wallace D Wattles. With a few others such as Christian D Larson; Theron Q Dumont; Ernest Holmes).

    Is there any other way to double check they are all Public Domain? All the reference books are freely available via a quick Google Search. Is this sufficient evidence please?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Sandra,
      If the quote was first published before 1923, then it would be in the public domain. So, the best short cut is to look at the date the quote was first publishing.
      For any work first published after that date, you would need to look at number of factors, such as where the work was created, when the author died, whether the work had a copyright notice, etc.

      Reply
      • Sandra

        Thank you Helen.

        I have sent an email to copyright.gov to double check. Everything I want to use was first published before 1923 except the Neville Goddard stuff. But it is so freely available I am not sure. Published between 1941 – 1949. Thank you very much for your help.

        Reply
  46. Roberta Crispino

    The Patent Office has a site where you can enter a phrase and it will tell you who it was credited to. If the phrase or ‘quote’ is not credited to anyone is it safe to use?

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Roberta, I am not familiar with the search function you mentioned. But I doubt that it would be inclusive enough that you can rely upon it exclusively. You’ll need to do more research to try to track down the original author and determine whether the quote is still subject to copyright.

      Reply
  47. Deborah Kay

    Helen,
    Thank you very much. This article was very helpful.

    Reply
  48. TERRICE BLACKWELL

    I am working on a journal and would like to include quotes from people that inspire me. Some of these people are still living. My vision is to include quotes throughout the journal from the bible, people that inspire me and me personally. I’m perfectly fine with giving credit to the original author of the quote. How should I proceed with this? I don’t want to find myself in legal trouble at a later date.

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Terrice, the safest route is to get permission to use any quote written by someone else. If you can’t get permission, you need to consider the factors I describe in the post. For instance, if the quote old enough to be in the public domain?

      Reply
  49. P.S.

    Hello, I keep getting mails from this post and its driving me crazy because the page dont let me unsuscribe. Help me, please!

    Reply
  50. Stephanie Lilly

    I am currently working on a book and I will have some quotes that are definitely verified to be over one hundred years old, from people who have definitely been passed for 100 years. I’m trying to be particularly safe here! However, it’s a daily prayer journal, so every other day I will have a quote from a famous author/speaker and alternating Bible verses on the other days. My question is, do I need to find each individual work and list it as a reference at the end, or would I be okay saying all quotes came from GoodReads.com? This is very tedious, but I feel it’s important for my book.

    Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Stephanie, Legally, you are not required to give credit to the original writer is the quote is in the public domain, which most quotes older than 100 years would be. However, many people feel that it is more ethical and respectful to give credit to the original writer. So no one will have a legal claim against you if you merely refer to Goodreads, but some people may be critical of you taking that shortcut.

      Reply
    • Helen Sedwick

      Stephanie, Legally, you are not required to give credit to the original writer if the quote is in the public domain, which most quotes older than 100 years would be. However, many people feel that it is more ethical and respectful to give credit to the original writer. So no one will have a legal claim against you if you merely refer to Goodreads, but some people may be critical of you taking that shortcut.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *