copyright protection of abstracts

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  • My special library is looking into (self) publishing a compilation of dissertation abstracts on a certain topic. We have adapted the authors' abstracts in order to fit the space constraints as well as for clarity and sometimes typos. Many of the abstracts were not necessarily adapted at all. The author/citation information is included on the same page as the abstract. Are we infringing?
  • I'm not certain I understand what you are doing.

    Are you copying abstracts from the actual dissertations (for example, dissertations in your collection) or the abstracts from Dissertation Abstracts? I don't have access to Dissertation Abstracts and don't know if that source merely compiles the original abstracts or creates new abstracts.

    Are you choosing your articles according to your own standard or merely publishing a stand-alone subset of Dissertation Abstracts?

    Are you selling your publication? Are you widely distributing your publication, or do you have a limited audience?

    If Dissertation Abstracts is not involved, I think this is clearly not an infringement. I think you are creating a transformative work using primarily factual information. I view abstracts created by the authors as factual representations of the article.

    I wanted to give you a more detailed answer, but I don't have time now.
  • Though this is an old topic but I was wondering if anyone with expertise in this field could answer this question because I'm also interested in copyrighting abstracts. Thanks.
  • Well, we never got quite enough information from the original poster. What is your situation, equity space?

    I can tell you that I recently co-authored an index to a journal, for which we wrote our own abstracts. We released it under a Creative Commons license so others could re-mix it. But, since the abstracts were our own work, we could have copyrighted them. However, the factual information -- the actual journal citations -- would not have been copyrightable.

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