1

Bob wrote a solution manual for book X. (solution manual = a manual that presents solutions for some/all exercises of the book)

Is Bob authorized to publish it, given that Bob hasn't written book X and doesn't own any right on it?

Book X was written and published in the United States, and Bob plans to publish the solution manual in the United States (either on Internet or on paper, and either free of charge or with a charge).

  • 2
    I wouldn't be confident regarding whether this would violate either copyright law (as a derivative work) or trademark (since you would have to refer to the original by name in selling it), without finding case law on point. Also, if it was a derivative work, would it be protected by the fair use exception? Without case law to reassure me on those points I would be uncomfortable recommending that your proceed with the project. They seem like close calls to me. – ohwilleke Dec 13 '16 at 20:42
6

Bob is not authorized, but he may legally do so (in the US, you don't need specific authorization to perform a non-forbidden act). In creating the manual, Bob would need to avoid reproducing the questions (which are protected by copyright), and just give the answers. Copyright protection for the textbook includes not just the actual words, but also organizational structure, so Bob would need to avoid copying the structure of the exercises.

As for "structure of the exercises", textbooks often have exercises for each chapter, with a clear logic to the order and content of chapters. Within the chapter exercises, there is often some rationale to the order of presentation of the dozen exercises, like starting for with simplest concepts presented in the text and moving up the ladder. In a given exercise, there my be subparts, where understanding part 1 leads you to understanding part 2, and so on. In a well-structure textbook, maybe 20% of the creative nature of the book is that artful ordering. Imposing an entirely different order on your solutions avoids copying the author's protected expression.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.