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Writing Books/Copyright permission for book of quotes


Dear Susan:

I'm writing a book of quotes on a subject and compiling them by categories within the main subject.  I'm also beginning each category with a short essay of my own.  I know that this constitutes an original work worthy of a Compilation Copyright but I'm unclear whether I need to get permission from each quoted author.  I've seen similar books with no evidence that they've obtained permission from those quoted. The quotes will only be a sentence or a paragraph each; very short in relation to the whole book or article they are quoted from.  Any help you can give is greatly appreciated.  I've gotten a great response from others to this work and have great hopes that it can enhance others' life experiences.  Thank you.
Sincerely, Karen Najarian
(925) 229-8133 if you'd like to talk.

Dear Karen:

That's a very good question. I am not a lawyer, but I have studied libel law in line with my own work, and have learned this:

 You can just quote them and hope they don't notice (not recommended)

 Or you can write them and ask for permission to quote a little bit - a few lines or a short paragraph - and send along a sample, EXACTLY as it will appear in the finished book - no changing anything afterward!

 Or you can paraphrase. In a book of quotes, this may not be desireable.

I have done this twice - once after the fact and once before. Even in the case of the book I quoted without asking permission, the author was graciously cooperative. And BTW, just because the "permission" isn't shown in the book, you can bet the author has it.

Good luck with your book! If you would like to talk, you can reach me at

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be appreciated. I am proud of my "straight 10" record over 120+ questions!  

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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