Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property

Q: I am writing a novel and would like to use quote from a non-fiction book as part of the narrative. What are the limits?

In my novel, the main character is using quotes from the non-fiction book to as aids to illustrate her own experiences, which she relates to the content of the quotes. She states that she's doing so because the book's author has already said things very well and she sees no point in "reinventing the wheel". I have requested permission from the book's author. He has responded that he's willing to allow me to use 1000 words but would like to limit quotes to a few words each and with only one per page of my novel. I'm not comfortable with the limitations on quote length or numbers per page. Is there a solution?

1 Lawyer Answer
Daniel Michael Luisi
Daniel Michael Luisi
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer

A: The “fair use” doctrine under Section 107 of the Copyright Act may allow you to do what you want, but this is subject to a detailed review of your case, as fair use is adjudicated on a case-by-case basis with reference to similar court precedents and a multi-factor legal test. It’s impossible to advise you without actually reviewing your book for compliance with the Copyright Act.

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