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Q: Question on Copyright ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Question on Copyright
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: netres-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 12 Aug 2006 19:45 PDT
Expires: 11 Sep 2006 19:45 PDT
Question ID: 755433
My question is copyright related. I'll go right into it...

Lets pretend i want to create a website about dogs. I want to write a
description about each particular dog breed. The problem is i know
nothing about each dog breed. So i have to do research and learn what
each dog breed is like, what their characterstics, features,
tempraments, etc, so i can write about them.

The first way i could do this is to buy 200 different breeds of dog
puppies, a dalmations, a doberman, a pug, etc and wait 12 years while
they all grow up. I could then learn what each dog is like and write
about them.

The second way i could do this is to buy all the books on dog breeds
already for sale and read them. Then, based on what those books say,
and what i learned about dogs from reading them, i could write my own
website on dog breeds.

My question is: if i was to buy books about dog breeds, and visit
every website i could find about dog breeds, and take research notes,
can i then go and legally write up my own website about dog breeds
based on what i learned from other peoples sites and books? Or, is
this copyright infringment?

I would be re-writing all the information into my own words, but the
facts would remain the same.

As an example: see This site has hundreds of
pages giving information about dog breeds. Obviously, the owner of
this site was not born with this information in his head. He obviously
has learned the information about each dog breed from OTHER people, by
reading books, researching, etc, and then has reworded it onto his own

When you learn from someone elses work, and then reword it, does this
avoid the copyright? I want all the information i can get related to
this matter, not just a general link to an article on "what is
Subject: Re: Question on Copyright
Answered By: politicalguru-ga on 13 Aug 2006 00:23 PDT
Dear Netres, 

There are two levels here and working properly, you're on the clear on
both counts:

- the legal level (probably more important to you): citing one's works
as part of a research, and using several sources is legal in the
United States and in general - although one cannot vouch for any law
of any given country. You can see here what is considred - and what is
not considred - protected by copyright:
US Copyright Office - What Works are Protected?

- the ethical level - citing properly and giving credit to your
soruces would do, if they are part of a larger work.

Students and researcher do that all the time and what you described
(reading the most important sources, writing your own piece based on
them) is actually part of our learning process.

Here you can read how to quote, cite and paraphrase properly. These
are academic sources, but that only means that they might be even a
little more strict than what the law allows commercially, since
academe views plagiarism (using someone else's work without proper
citation; copying and so on) very harshly.

Purdue University - Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

University of Wisconsin - Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

I wish you success with your website. Please contact me if you need
any clarification on this answer before you rate it.

Request for Answer Clarification by netres-ga on 15 Aug 2006 04:28 PDT
I want to know if i can buy a whole bunch of books on a subject that i
know nothing about. Become very knowledgable about the subject based
on those books. And then go off and basically write about the subject
myself -- from what ive learned in those books. Basically, the way i
see it is that knowledge becomes mine after ive read the book, so why
cant i then go write about. The author who wrote the book in the first
place quite possibly learned a lot about the subject from other people
and books.

Clarification of Answer by politicalguru-ga on 15 Aug 2006 10:29 PDT
Yes, the answer is positive, the knowledge becomes your own, though you have to : 
- cite properly
- if someone has presented a scientific breakthrough ("Mo's Method of
Teaching Dogs how to Talk") you cannot just immitate it and claim it
as your own. You can, of course, conducts experiments, discuss this
method, etc. - but you shouldn't present other people's ideas as your
Subject: Re: Question on Copyright
From: randomuser-ga on 12 Aug 2006 21:43 PDT
According to the U.S. Copyright Office's website: "Copyright does not
protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it
may protect the way these things are expressed. "

You can read more here:
Subject: Re: Question on Copyright
From: probonopublico-ga on 12 Aug 2006 22:09 PDT
My understanding is that it is probably OK to do the research largely
using existing material provided that you do not blatantly copy any
one article/book.

However, a way round this would be to seek permission from the
publishers to use exerpts. They would probably go along with this
provided you made the usual acknowledgments.

Good luck!


PS You can use a photograph of Daisy, my Yorkshire Terrier, on your
Home Page provided you pay the usual modelling fee of 2 dog biscuits.

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