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Alex Reese
Alex Reese, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  Experienced in intellectual property law
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If a school text book has a copyright can you use the

Customer Question

If a school text book has a copyright can you use the chapter titles to create your own curriculum or would that go against the copyright
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  montysimmons replied 1 year ago.

Yes, you can freely use the titles as copyright does not protect short phrases such as titles.

Pleas keep asking questions until you are satisfied with my answers. If you need more detail let me know.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How much of the text book can I use. can i use the chapter topics and use the same lessons topics but make the lesson my own? for example chapter 1 of math book for grade 4 is 2-digit addition and it has 6 lessons can my curriculum have the same topic for chapter 1 and have the same topic for the 6 lessons or would the lessons have to be varied. When we are talking about 4th grade math for example it seems they would all be similar. I just wanted to use a book already written for the outline. Is this ok?
Expert:  montysimmons replied 1 year ago.

Generally speaking, the more one copies the more risk involved as, eventually, one is likely to copy too much or copy the wrong thing.

It is true that titles and short phrases are not protected by copyright. Short phrases can, however, be protected by trademark law. But lets assume there are no trademark issues - a good assumption. Can copyright ever cover a title or group of titles or an outline? perhaps.

Copyright covers creative expression, not ideas. For example, data is not covered by copyright, however, a creative organization or arrangement of data can be protected by copyright.

Copying the entire outline of a book, word for word, could cause you a problem. Remember, you can be sued for good reason, no reason, or bad reason. Hopefully you will "win" if someone sues you for no reason or bad reason but who wants to spend many thousands of dollars to "win" a copyright infringement suit? Such is not a "win" to me.

So I submit it is best NOT to take actions that might anger others even if such anger is unjustified (if there is a way to avoid such actions). Copying the entire outline of a book, word for word, may not be copyright infringement but it may anger the author of such book into doing something stupid like suing you.

So my recommendation is to at least change the titles enough to avoid copying them word for word. Then you should be safe as I suspect there is no protectable creative expression in the arrangement of the material of the book. But such is a guess without seeing the actual material and the extend of copying.

Please keep asking question until you are satisfied with my answers.

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