quotes older than 1923 fair use?

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  • I am writing a non-fiction, business book and want to use several quotes. The youngest quote is from 1922. I am not quoting more than a line or two. I am not disparaging or parodying the author - quite the opposite. It is for commercial profit. For example, Aristotle, Shakespere, William James, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ben Franklin, Lao-tzu, Buddha, Benjamin Disraeli, Robert Yates, Machiavelli, James H. Aughey, Dominique Bouhours, Alexander Graham Bell, Harriet Martineau, Sir Walter Scott, John Sheffield, Lord Byron, and others, mostly from the 19th century.

    Thanks for your help.


  • Hi, Jerry.

    There was an extended discussion about contemporary quotes on this forum last year. To read it, go to “search” in the blue bar at the top. In the search field, type “quotes.” Look at the sixth result, “Fair use for short quotes, written and otherwise.”

    The discussion mentioned above touches on several issues concerning 20th century quotes. Because you are using quotes that pre-date 1923, I think you have less to worry about. Nevertheless, here are a few considerations:

    1. Were the quotes published? If so, when? If they were first published after 1923, they may still be under copyright protection. For specifics, please see this chart: http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/training/Hirtle_Public_Domain.htm

    2. Are you using a particular translation that may have reason to be under copyright protection?

    3. I notice some of your authors are European, which brings up foreign copyright protection. But take heart; if the U.S. and the country of origin follow the same treaty (like the Berne Convention), then foreign publications generally receive the same protection as works published in the U.S.

    Finally, my disclaimer: This message is neither exhaustive nor expert information. If anyone has anything to add, please write in.

    Best of luck with your book, Jerry.

  • MFakouri,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and for the information. It is very valuable.



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