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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3171
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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I am launching a coaching business for women, parents and educators.

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I am launching a coaching business for women, parents and educators. For years, I have been teaching parenting classes at a local school (not for profit). I would like to offer these classes on my website. The classes are based on the work of a variety of authors in the field. Is it legal to offer a class based on their work? I do not reprint their materials and I add my own components to the class but the majority of the class is typically adapted from a single book. I do fully attribute all concepts from both the book and author but am unclear as to whether it is okay to do this for profit.

Yes, this would be permissible. There are no intellectual property rights in ideas or concepts themselves. It is only the particular way in which ideas or concepts are expressed that protected by intellectual property rights. Thus it is only when you get involved with copying written/visual materials that copyright protections would come into play. But you are certainly allowed to discuss the ideas of various authors so long as you do so using your own form of expression.

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Is there anything else I can assist you with concerning your question?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Am I able to create handouts that paraphrase some of the information from the books? Thank you for your help.

Yes, paraphrasing is fine. You are not doing any direct copying; you are explaining the ideas in your own words which is fine.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for all of your help. I'm wondering about handouts. Below is a sample. Some of the bold headings are the exact terms that the authors use. As you can see, I reference the authors and then underneath put a brief sentence or two that explains the term in my own words. Is this okay? Can I use their exact terms such as "Name it to Tame It"? And, can I put these handouts on my company letterhead ?Also, I would like to develop audio programs for these courses. Is it okay to do an audio program based on another author's material? Thanks in advance for your help!

The Power of Our Words: What Other Experts Are Saying

1. Use attribution training rather than persuasive words to encourage children.

Studies have shown that people/children’s attributions are positively shifted through expression of positive attributes (You are a boy who…), but are not affected by persuasive approaches (You should…). Therefore, if we can control the attributions people make, then we can influence their future behavior.


Classroom Littering Study and Math Achievement and Self-Esteem Study

Attribution versus Persuasion as a Means for Modifying Behavior by Miller, R.L., Brickman, P., and Bolen, D.,

Performance Under Pressure Study

Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations by Chris Berdik

In all of the above studies, simplicity drives practical application of Attribution Theory. To achieve obvious and enduring effects, all the sources had to do was make a few well-timed and appropriate statements.

2. Use promotion focused opposed to prevention oriented language. Raising Happiness by Christine Carter, Ph.D.

Prevention oriented: Jack! Get down from there! You’re going to fall and break your neck!

Promotion oriented: Jack, come check this out! You can climb really high over here!

3. Name it to tame it. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nuture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegal, M.D. & Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

Help children tell and retell stories to process traumatic events and calm big emotions.

4. Rewrite negative scripts. Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child by Robert Brooks, Ph.D. & Sam Goldstein, Ph.D.

If something we have said or done with a child for a reasonable time is not working, then we need to change our own “script” if the child is going to change his or hers.

5. Focus on building up rather than chipping away. Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child by Robert Brooks, Ph.D. & Sam Goldstein, Ph.D.

Rather than spending time and energy on fixing deficits focus your attention on building assets in children.

7. Use questions whenever possible. The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language That Helps Children Learn by Paula Denton, Ed.D.

Questions require the child to process ideas as opposed to passive listening. “It’s time to get ready for our trip. What do we need to pack?”



I think you are fine. The bold headings are only a limited portion of the original author's work, and as such would fall under the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law. And with respect to the headings themselves there are a limited ways in which these ideas can be expressed.

I don't see any problem with putting this on your letterhead.

And again with audio programs, as long as you use your own expression in discussing the author's ideas, they would be fine.