1. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Quotes

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Kratos, Aug 30, 2008.

    If I want to use quotes from say...Shakespeare or Dante in my writings, like before chapters, would I have to get copyright? I don't think so, because they're public domain, right?
     
  2. AnonymousWriter
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    AnonymousWriter Contributing Member

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    Where's Terry when you need him? :p
    I'm sorry I'm not much use on this sort of thing.
    Terry will probably know the answer.
     
  3. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    Erm, I would say no, you wouldn't need copyright, as long as you site where the quote has come from. I think some people have like an achknowlages page in the back of their novels if they have used several resources. Just make sure you say that it is a Shakespeare quote or something.
     
  4. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I'd be careful with somebody like Dante because while his work itself is public domain, the different translations of it by modern translators might not be. If you find a public-domain translation then you're safe. (And his work has been translated so many times that I'm fairly certain there must be some public-domain versions out there.)

    Project Gutenberg is a good place to find such works.
     
  5. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Under there.
    Public domain is irrelevant so long as you cite your sources. Copyright only really comes into play when you are using large portions of someone else's work AND making some sort of profit off of it.

    Unless you were planning on quoting entire chapters of other books in your own, you can use all the quotes you like. (Otherwise, writing research papers would be a severe drag.)
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Scattercat is right. As long as you say where you got what you're quoting and it's only a few lines of it, there are no issues with copyright. If we couldn't do that, it would be a lot harder to write a non-fiction book.
     
  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Shakespeare is very public domain. Copyright lasts for the life of the author, plus a further 100 years. But tehuti88 is right about Dante. Check for the translator. And always, always, always cite your quotations somewhere.
     
  8. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Thing is, if the writer has been dead for something like 50 years, then anyone can use it freely. So those old writers will be fine, no copyright issues, I wouldn't think.

    That's why there are so many different versions of old classics by different publishers in the book shops.

    The translations may be an issue. But I guess if you have to universally accepted translation then no-one is going to have any issue with it.

    Is anyone gonna make an issue over you using a line or 2 of translated text? Seems unlikely.
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again, it really is an issue of just citing sources properly.
     
  10. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Copyright Office.

    There is a lot involved in this, and things are not really what they seem. Like you can not copyright a translation unless you also have the copyright of the original.

    That is to prevent people from stealing another authors work by simply translating into a different language.

    IE: If I translated Harry Potter into Spanish I can not go an copyright it as my own, same holds true if I translated the Koran into Klingon. I could not claim copyright to it.

    Hope some of this helps.

    Public works are just that, Public, but you are required to cite the source of the quote and where you got it from under the quite itself (not in the back of the book)
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't assume anything is gospel just because someone says so on a writing forum!

    some here have claimed that it's ok to use a line or two from a copyrighted work, as long as you cite the source... and that is not entirely true... while it may hold for 'fair use' situations, that does not include works of fiction, nor much of non-fiction... from the uspto site linked above:

    ALWAYS check with the source [that site] and NEVER rely only on what you 'hear' from others here or elsewhere... and when in doubt, consult a literary attorney, not a 'lay person'...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  12. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Also check that a "foundation" does not own the copyright. Even after an author dies, a foundation can maintain a copyright to the work long after they are dead.

    In the case of public works, you do not need to ask permission, but you MUST cite source.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to be specific, you mean works in the 'public domain' right?...

    the foundation bit is a good thing to keep in mind, though i don't think it applies to many works...
     
  14. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Works by which copyright has expired or can not be enforced/validated.

    The source must still be cited, permission is not required.
     
  15. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Alright, thanks for the answers. I've been away from a computer for the last two days, which is why I haven't responded.
     
  16. jazz_sue
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    jazz_sue Member

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    I'd give Shakespeare the same concern as quoting passages from the bible - in other words, you're safe. Besides anything else, once an author is published the onus is on them to secure copyright, otherwise anyone can jump on their bandwagon! The '50 years rule' gets more complicated if copyright has been handed down via the author's estate: Beatrix Potter is a good example of this. Definitely more than 50 years published, yet you still have to get permission to use extracts of her work. This is fairly easy to do, provided you pay a fee and keep rigidly to the original context of her work, and remember the original illustrations are the only ones permissable. Imagine what would be missing from the film script world if Jane Austen had stipulated this!

    Following which: I'm an avid follower of the author Jasper Fforde, who sets all his novels in an alternative universe where book characters are real. The only books you would have read in this world are the classics - Austen, Dickens etc. Everything else is either his own creation or a mythological one, i.e the Minotaur. There's an interesting passage in his latest novel, where Harry Potter is initially going to be present at a meeting, but is later unable to attend owing to 'copyright reasons.' I often wonder how Jasper got away with that one! Then again, the name Harry Potter is bandied about a lot on TV - probably because names can't be copyrighted (there are real people called HP, after all)
     

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