I am currently sourcing some ideas from a few books (through Google Books) and I sometimes stumble upon introductory messages from the authors/editors of these books saying something like:

"All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by an electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers" (https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1317622006)

and similar messages... so, does that mean that I cannot paraphrase or quote from it under fair use? (Sometimes I do read other messages explicitly allowing fair use)

  • 7
    What makes you think an author has a right to tell you what's fair use and what's not? Put differently, if a book told you to jump off a cliff, would you jump?
    – Dan Romik
    Jan 31, 2016 at 21:05
  • 1
    As long as you are "sourcing some ideas" and transforming them into your own written thoughts, you should be fine. Disclaimers, like you've cited, are pretty standard copyright warnings and IMHO are applicable to direct reprinting (i.e., text) or reproduction (i.e., figures), but not borrowing ideas (as long as you properly cite the sources). Some relevant info: 1) nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/…; 2) janefriedman.com/the-fair-use-doctrine. Jan 31, 2016 at 21:51
  • 2
    @DanRomik: The respective texts may have originated in jurisdictions that do not have a concept of "fair use". In those jurisdictions, the authors could indeed have a right to tell readers what is fair use (or that nothing beyond reading is). Jan 31, 2016 at 23:23
  • 1
    @O.R.Mapper - While technically possible, that seems very unlikely. Most publishers, particularly those likely to be indexed on Google Books, will be based in jurisdictions where some concept of fair use/fair dealing exists. Besides, it's the recipient's jurisdiction that's most relevant. I don't think many countries will extradite over a foreign copyright-infringement complaint (especially if the foreign laws are much stricter than the closest local equivalents)?
    – aroth
    Feb 1, 2016 at 2:49
  • 4
    "Legal scholar Wendy Seltzer has pointed out how many organizations overstate their rights in the copyright notice..." -- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_notice#Overstatement_of_rights Feb 1, 2016 at 7:51

3 Answers 3


This is fairly standard boilerplate in UK-published books. You'll probably find that all books from this publisher have identical text, with gentle shifts in phrasing over the years as they refine it.

This statement is effectively saying "to be clear, we don't give you permission to do any of the things that the law requires you to have permission to do, and you can't pretend you didn't know this". However, it will not prevent you doing anything you would otherwise have been allowed to do as reasonable fair use/fair dealing/etc by local copyright law - generally speaking, the publisher cannot prevent such use.

Incidentally, "other means, now known or hereafter invented..." is a relatively new addition - it's a reaction to ebooks! I have a collection of essays where the editors were feeling playful and added "or magical" in here...

  • The text is also common in books published in Spain and Sweden, so it is probably an European thing.
    – Davidmh
    Feb 1, 2016 at 6:36
  • I think I've seen text along these lines in American works as well.
    – David Z
    Feb 1, 2016 at 16:58

In the broadest sense, the statutory note generally means you cannot make copies of the whole or part of the book and that you cannot reuse any content of the book without attribution. That doesn't mean the entire contents itself are classified for only those who read it.

Of course you can give quotes of the book provided appropriate citation. I do not however suggest the use of its images without prior permission.


They don't give you any permissions

Such statements explicitly mean that they are not giving you any permission to do the things listed there.

On the other hand, your local copyright laws will specify in what cases you need their permission (often, as the default position) and in what cases you don't need their permission and can copy or use the work anyway.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .