View Full Version : Referencing public domain documents found in new books

Norman D Gutter
06-19-2007, 02:11 AM
Hello fellow Water Cooler denizens!

I am writing (hopefully for fee) a series of articles that reference certain public domain material, from the 1700s and 1800s, which is way out of copyright. However, I access this information in relatively new books, say from the last 30 to 40 years. These books all contain a notice about not using the material in the books without attribution....

My question is: Since the material is out of copyright, and I don't use any words found only in the new books, is there any problem quoting the old, old material without attributing where I found the material? I don't want to run afoul of copyright laws, but I just can't see why I should reference the new book that contained the old material.


06-19-2007, 02:53 AM
I don't honestly understand your reluctance. It's quite acceptable to quote text from a newer document if the original is not accessible.

Quoting and citing material is not a breach of copyright as long as you don't quote the entire document, and as long as you stay within fair use guidelines (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html).

Stijn Hommes
06-19-2007, 03:09 PM
I would even go as far as saying that you have to quote the newer source. If you haven't read the original, you don't know for sure what it says, and you're gonna look really dumb if you duplicate a translation error or something from the later publication while you claim to cite the error-free original.