Writing Books/book


Is it plagiarism to write a book doing the following: First I read a book chapter about 7 principles of success, each principle has its own headline within that chapter in bold letters. In my book I re-write the headline and I read each of the 7 principles (which are about 3 paragraphs each) and I put the book down and re-write it with my own words and add a few examples of my own. So it will have similar look and feel and roughly same number of words but all my own words.

Hello, Al:

I am not a copyright attorney.  Let me repeat that: I am not a copyright attorney.

That much being said, if you visit the United States Copyright web site (Google it), you will find the following information:

" 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use38
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."

Every year, Toyota comes out with a new design for a passenger vehicle.  Every year, Chevrolet comes out with a strikingly similar design.  This is to say that copyright is a gray area.  It is not black and white.

Study the U.S. copyright laws.  Study your source book and the notice in the front or rear of the book as to the permissions required by the publisher and author to use or borrow their material.

If you are serious about publishing your manuscript and you are about to embark on a long and arduous journey of hard writing and rewriting, I suggest you purchase a book on copyright law (try NOLO publishing) and contact a copyright attorney.

This is the best advice that I can give.

Youngbear Roth  

Writing Books

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M.L. 'Max' Roth, Executive Editor


My specialist area is literary and philosophical fiction. I am pleased to answer all queries regarding story, plot, character arc and development, environment, structure, theme, subtext, and conflict.


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