What books/stories can you publish without getting sued???

@Nireths (149)
United States
March 4, 2007 11:20am CST
What books, stories, publications, etc... are public and everyone is free to publish, change or use without getting sued??
1 response
• United States
4 Mar 07
I'm not any sort of lawyer, but this is just the general impression I've got from what I've heard. It depends on where you live, but usually you can reprint things in the public domain. However, you can't really go around just publishing anything you like. If something is printed people still put work into editing and compiling it, and I think that even if it's something like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" it might still be considered a derivative work. If you reprint it based on a version that someone else has put together, you might run into problems. Since that's reprinting a version that someone else notated and wrote out the lyrics to, that would be copying a derivative work and you could still potentially be sued. So, basically, you still have to "create" the work yourself or derive it from a public-domain source, like your brain, or a primary source... does that make sense? However, if you wrote a story based on the plot of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing, or Beowulf, and it was all your own words, even if you took the plot directly from one of those works, no one would be able to sue you... unless it was based on the work of someone ELSE who had wrote a work based on Shakespeare, etc... For example, my mother writes Christian music, and even though the Bible was written forever ago, she still has to credit it and the New Living Translation in her work, because that is the translation that she uses when she refers to the verses and incorporates them into her text. Since she is not looking at the actual pages written by the authors of the bible (which are probably falling to bits by now if they still exist at all) she has to credit the people who translated and printed it in English. She would not be able to redistribute it. However, if she came across a manuscript of the original King James translation of the bible, I think that she would be able to type up and redistribute that, since it is definitely old enough to be in the public domain. Does that make sense? If you are looking for information on public domain works, check out places like Project Gutenberg and read the first few pages in the "About Us" pages: http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page