Copyright and quoting from another book

Hi I was wondering if I could quote at least 5 pages (a food list) from a book in my own book if I mentioned the source. I haven’t asked for permission but if they absolutely refused how much would I be able to quote?

Copyright law doesn’t specify exactly what a fair use quote is in terms of length or content AFAIK - much like pornography, the judge knows a fair use quote when they see it :). Here’s what a quick google turns up.

“A food list” is kind of a general term.

If it’s just a list of foods and their nutritional values, it may have been copied from the USDA nutrition list and would be in the public domain.

However, if the author of the other book applied some transformative or creative process to the list, the transformed list may or may not be public domain.

If you need lists of foods, the USDA has tons of lists and publications. You may be better off copying from there.

Alley Dweller:
The food list is related to “The Belly Fat Cure Fast Track”. They have applied some creative process to the list. e.g. in the nuts category they have been fussy and I want to trust their judgement for their choices.

First, make sure you’re asking the copyright holder for permission. While in many cases, this will be the author, it’s not always. The author may have signed over their copyright to the publisher (this is more often an issue with articles, IME, but it’s important to be aware of, in case).

Second, since your use does not sound transformative, is commercial use, and it sounds as if you’re wanting to quote at least 5 pages, I doubt that your use would be accepted under the fair use guidelines.

Note: I am not a lawyer of any sort, much less a copyright lawyer.

How much could you use? You would likely get away with giving examples like:

“various diets restrict specific foods. For example, in The Belly Fat Cure Fast Track, restricted foods include broccoli and cashews, ostensibly because of the way in which those foods are metabolized citation. Of course, this statement is bunk because of blah blah blah as proven by Smith and Jones cite.”

But I think quoting the list alone is likely problematic. I also think that you’re unlikely to get a clear cut answer in this area because this isn’t an area where lines exist.

Some points:

  • Facts are not protected by copyright law, only the specific form of expression of such facts.
  • Ideas are not protected by copyright law, only the specific form of expression of such ideas. Under the merger doctrine if a particular form of expression is necessary in order to convey an idea, then there can’t be exclusive rights in that expression
  • Methods and processes are not protected by copyright law, only the specific form of expression of such a method or process.

So what is it exactly you are copying? If it’s merely a list of foods and it’s not possible to express the idea behind that list in any other way, then under the merger doctrine, it very well may be that there’s no protectable expression there.

It is a group of food lists that the author titled “Belly Best Foods”. It includes groups like “Restoration Proteins” (which he added a “TM” to elsewhere), “Super Carbs” and “Nature’s Candy”.

Why not just ask for permission? That should always be the first step.

The list of food lists is similar to this list of 12:
except he has more than 100 foods… (BTW his food list includes those there except for yoghurt and lemon)
His food list includes a lot of normal foods - not just special foods.

You need to consult competent counsel licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. There’s no way you should stake your legal future on things you learn from anonymous strangers on the Internet.

Ok… BTW I am a fan of his Belly Fat Cure diet but he has now actually moved on. Instead of mostly paleo diet (no grain, minimal fruit) his new diet (“Tiny and Full”) is semi-vegan and involves eating grain and quite a bit of fruit. Instead of bacon, egg and cheese for breakfast his new diet only has plant products for breakfast. It seems his new diet is about general weight loss rather than targeting belly fat.

Anyway maybe if I promoted his old diet and mentioned his new one he’d like that because it means people might want to buy his old Belly Fat Cure books as well as his new books.

Does this you plan to ask for permission or not? If not, why not?

JohnClay, I would caution you not to let people in this thread pressure or goad you into making a decision. I would hope that you would not do anything—including contacting anyone to seek permission—without advice from your lawyer that that is the right step to take.

Moved to About This Message Board from GQ.

General Questions Moderator

I would say that 5 pages is far too much to quote in a post on this board regardless of any copyright issues. If it is available elsewhere on the internet, just link to it.

Moderator Action

Either Colibri misread something or I did, but the OP seems to be talking about copying something into his own book, and does not appear to be talking about posting it here.

I’m going to punt this back to GQ. If I’m the one who misread it, please let me know and I’ll ping-pong it back to ATMB.

Moving thread from ATMB to GQ.

I sent the author a short email. He has sold 8 million books so he might not be able to answer all of his emails…

He seems to be asking for legal advice. Shouldn’t this be in IMHO?

Is there a standing record for the most-bounced thread on this board? Could this thread be heading to set a new record?

Can I copy an entire chapter of your book for an unknown reason? That was what you said? Why did you think that was a good idea?

I said that I was a fan and I might use it for a booklet or website.

Well it’s worth a try I think.