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I would like to reference thoughts from a book, which would be a legal and normal thing to do, but there is a part on the first page of the book which makes me confused. Maybe the author forbids even to reference the book and I need written permission for that?

This was the legal text:

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher. Printed in the United States of America. For information on obtaining permission for use of material in this work, please submit a written request to...

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    Are you proposing to quote parts of the book (including them verbatim), to give a reference to them (e.g.. the name of the book, author, chapter/section/page numbers), and/or to mention them (describing them briefly in your own words)?
    – gidds
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 15:23
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    I don't believe an author can just print any binding agreement in a book. This is rather a reminder of the laws that already exist in given country. This differs from e.g. software which often requires the user to accept some license prior to use. I think this question should be asked on law stack exchange site if you want a more detailed answer. Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 19:56
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    Does the title of the book count as a part of the book...
    – minseong
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 23:58

2 Answers 2

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Actually, that is fairly standard copyright boilerplate. All it really means is that the normal copyright rules and restrictions apply. The same would be true, almost everywhere, even without the notice.

But "fair use" will still apply as usual and you can quote small sections of it with citation just as you would from any other book.

If anything, the notice also says that the author might be willing to give you a license for more if given some reason. But you will find nearly the same wording in novels and other books by commercial publishers.

Treat it like any other work.


I'm currently reading a mystery novel for relaxation. It has nearly that precise wording on the copyright page.

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    fair use only applies for certain legal systems and countries
    – Sebastian
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 11:48
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    @Sebastian, US is specified, actually.
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 13:15
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    Even if it is printed in the United States, it does not mean it is also cited there.
    – Sebastian
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 21:59
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    @Sebastian: That's mostly because everybody is American, and can't be bothered to dig up a citation to Article 10, paragraph (1) of the Berne Convention, which expressly provides for an international right to make short quotations within reason. Nearly every country on Earth is a signatory of that treaty.
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 9:54
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A shorter answer than Buffy's is this:

The text you quote is about using parts of the book -- that is, making copies and distributing them to students, or using figures from the book in your own publications. It doesn't say anything about citing the book. That is something nobody can prohibit you from doing because you are not infringing on anyone's rights by doing so.

So rest assured that citing the book is both legal and the right thing to do.

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    "Citing" can also by synonymous for "quoting", and this would definitely mean copying a part of the book. But if the part is small enough, then this shouldn't be a problem under any reasonable jurisdiction.
    – Stef
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 19:42

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