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If I want to include definitions from a dictionary or

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thesaurus in my book do...
if I want to include definitions from a dictionary or thesaurus in my book do I need to get permission?
Submitted: 8 months ago.Category: Legal
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11/16/2017
Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 8 months ago
ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 18,161
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Thank you for using JustAnswer.

It'd be best to obtain permission. Definitions are not, in and of themselves, protected by copyright, but creative expressions are. So while you can have a definition in a book, you would want to reword it or reorder the definition (thus it would then be yours).

Now, depending on your use, it could also be fair use. Here's what the law says regarding fair use: "... the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair use is a defense to infringement, and should not be a primary strategy. That is, you should first try to obtain permission / a "license" / etc.... from the owner of the copyright. If you're unable to obtain permission and still need to use the copyrighted work, that's when you say that the use is fair use. Note that a court might disagre and say it's infringement, which is why you want to use it as a fall-back when you can't obtain the actual permission.

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable.

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Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 8 months ago

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Hello - Thank you for the detailed answer. I think I should rephrase my question... I meant can I use synonyms contained in a thesaurus without permission? I will not use dictionary definitions... Just want to say something similar to: ***** ***** to a thesaurus and find synonyms of the following words.... I also want to know if I can literally copy and paste thesaurus synonyms to illustrate different meanings of a word without permission?
Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 8 months ago

Yes, you can use individual words. Now if you have an entire definition, that has multiple entries, etc... you should rephrase/reword or get permission to post them. But there's no protection for definitions or synonyms (the content). It's the expression of the content that is protected. For example (and my use would be protected by Fair Use, incidenally) if you Google "define run" you get the following:

run

rən/

verb

  1. 1.

    move at a speed faster than a walk, never having both or all the feet on the ground at the same time.

    "the dog ran across the road"

    synonyms:sprint, race, dart, rush, dash, hasten, hurry, scurry, scamper, bolt, fly, gallop, career, charge, shoot, hurtle, speed, zoom, go like lightning, go hell-bent for leather, go like the wind, go like a bat out of hell; More

2.

move about in a hurried and hectic way.

"I've spent the whole day running around after the kids"

To use that, you would need permission or claim fair use. But you could define run as "verb. To move at a speed above walking, such that both feet are not touching the ground at a certain time" or something like that. Again, the definition itself is not protected, but the specific wording in a definition is. Does that make sense? But if you were to use the synonyms for run as "spring, gallop, trot, dash" then that would be fine. Rearrange the synonyms that you get and edit them (maybe putting them alphabetically so that you can show a reason for your editing) and then you're not going to have any issues with those. Does that make sense?

If there's nothing else, please rate this answer.

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If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 8 months ago

If there's nothing else, please rate this answer.

Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Look for the stars on your screen (★★★★★). You may need to scroll left/right/up/down to see these stars, but note that the rating is what closes out this question, so it is necessary that you do so.

If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service positively. It's only after you rate that I am credited.

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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 8 months ago

I see that you have not responded in some time. Please note that this question is still open until you rate it. I believe that I have answered your question, but if you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable.

Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Look for the stars on your screen (★★★★★). You may need to scroll left/right/up/down to see these stars, but note that the rating is what closes out this question, so it is necessary that you do so.

If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service positively. It's only after you rate that I am credited.

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