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I'm reading a textbook on Ancient Greek that has readings at the end of each chapter. After I finish the reading, I would like to publish my translation to my blog, and above my translation reproduce the original reading. These readings aren't from classical authors, but were most likely written up by the author of the textbook, to provide simple readings for beginning students.

However, I'm not sure if it's legal to reproduce the Greek readings written by the textbook author. Would it be enough for me to cite the textbook within each blog post? Or am I required to actually write the author and receive permission?


Relevant Details

I live in the US and the book was printed in the US, and is still in print. It was copyrighted in 2000. I'm simply reproducing the textual content by laboriously typing up the Greek using the Polytonic Greek keyboard on Mac OS X. No pictures or scans.

The blog is a personal blog, devoted to my interests. Two of these main interests are Greek and Latin. I would say the blog has two purposes. First, it's an educational tool which helps me track my progress and access my materials. Second, it allows me to share my enthusiasm with others.

  • Depends entirely on what the blog is for, about, and does. More details needed. – Nij Oct 25 '16 at 22:18
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    @Nij I added a paragraph about that topic. Hope it's sufficient. – ktm5124 Oct 25 '16 at 22:28
  • Looks good enough to me. – Nij Oct 25 '16 at 22:31
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If the Ancient Greek text was composed by an ancient Greek, copyright protection has long since run out. If the text is written by the textbook author and the textbook is still in copyright, then it is protected, and it would be infringement to post either the original text or a translation. 17 USC 102(a) states the basic rule regarding what is protected: "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression", and 17 USC 106 states that the copyright owner has the sole right to authorize derivative works such as translations. Hyper-technically, you kinda violate the law when you do homework, which is an absurdity that just struck me. No language textbook author bothers to grant permission for students to do translation exercises. A reasonable person would assume that permission to translate is implicit in the fact of publishing a language textbook. Copyright is not about "attribution", it is about the property rights of authors: permission is required from the author.

If you opt to go ahead and get sued, one approach to defending yourself against a suit would be to plead fair use, so read that analysis. Applied to your case, a fair use analysis is IMO highly unlikely to succeed. In freely distributing the original texts, you would be undercutting a major portion of the market value of the textbook. In addition, in distributing translations (free answers), you would be seriously undermining the pedagogical utility of the exercises. Copying a short passage like ἥκει ἵνα Κῦρον παιδɛύῃ (blatantly lifted from Chase & Phillips) for ullustrative purposes would not be substantial copying, but an entire text would be probably found to be too much. The fact that you're planning on distributing the material for free (in a blog) would not help much, though selling the material would make it even worse. The only thing that you could do that would probably pass legal muster is not distribute the text or translation to anyone, i.e. make it purely a matter of personal use.

  • Technically, of course, the original never had copyright protection as its creation predates the Statute of Anne and, indeed, England. – Dale M Oct 26 '16 at 12:27

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