E-Learning course based on a copyrighted book

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  • Hi there. I have searched the threads and found querries that are similar...but this is still unique enough for a new post.

    I'm interested in the answer to this as much from an ethical perspective (from someone who understands the author culture).....as from a legal perspective. My goal is to only embark on this project if it passes both tests.

    Is this ethical? Is it legal?

    There is a particular business marketing book that I like that has been written and published by someone else (a published, copyrighted book that sells in all major retail outlets). Can I author and publish an e-learning course based on the book (and mentioning throughout the course that it is "based on the book") without having violated copyright laws? I am a “commercial company”…and while the course would be “educational” (one hopes!), we don’t qualify as a learning institution. Also, I would of course give full mention of the book's title and copyright status...and credit to the book's author....throughout my course. To be clear...the title of the course would be:

    A beginner's guide to the marketing theories contained in the best selling book, "_______", written by "________"

    Additional questions:
    • Can I show an image of the book's cover?
    • Can I quote from the book?
    • Can I use (with credit given…not in an attempt to “plagiarize”) chapter titles from the book as chapter titles for the course?
    • Can I repeatedly use paraphrased content if I preface it with…..”Here the author makes the point that….”

    These were just a few of the initial questions that came to mind. Are there other issues I am overlooking? What can I do in this regard....and what is the "line" that I must not cross in order to stay on the right side of the ethical boundary and the legal side of copyright law?

    Thank you....truly....for your consideration of my project. I just want to do it right.


  • I have a short answer and a long answer. I don't have time for the long answer right now.

    The short answer: You can avoid all legal and ethical dilemmas by making the book a required purchase for your students.

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