There is a technical book that I like a lot and is widely respected in my field. It has about 80 "rules" in it with example code.

I would like to create a series of videos to further explain and review each of the "rules". I will narrate the video in my own words. My goal is for the video series to be like a tutor that is walking the viewer through the book. I plan to fully credit the author and cite his work. Some questions:

  • Can I use code samples from the book if I give proper citation (title, author, page #)?
  • Is creating a chapter-by-chapter review of a book and putting it on YouTube considered an ethical gray area? To repeat: every video will fully credit the author of the book and it will be obvious that I am explaining ideas in my own words.

I am asking this question here because of all the stackexchange sites, people here seem to be the most well versed in copyright and fair use.


1 Answer 1


Disclaimer 1: I am not a lawyer, I know sh*t about law, it is not a legal advice and you should consult with a professional.

Disclaimer 2: ethics and law are two different question, this answer tries to give ideas about the law part (and you should not fully rely on it, as stated in D1)

If you using substantial amount of the book (its code, its ideas), especially blatantly copy its structure making it obvious what you copied, then you are way beyond fair use and you are in a gray or even red copyright area. Depending on publishers they generally put some short examples in their copyright session what constitute fair use, you can check those. What you describe here goes far beyond this. Also the whole purpose is to spread it to wide audience on youtube, so publisher can claim that they suffer significant loss of revenue, because the whole thing with all the details and secret sauce is on YouTube.

What you can do about it? You can try to get a permission from the publisher (most probably the author himself cannot give this). It may help if you have a reasonable discussion with the author / publisher about your idea and tune down the "I will discuss every little details of your book and copy out all the codes" part. For example it helps if you have your own intellectual effort in this whole stuff, e.g. analysing problems not presented in the book and show how the books method can be used, and not just reading/summarizing the book on video.

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