I want to make an Android app based on Chanakya Niti for that I definitely need a source. I have a book for that but my confusion is that it says you can't copy the content in any form. How can any publisher claim copyright on the teachings of person who lived in India centuries ago? The confusion is that many people are saying that it's in the public domain so you can make an app, but the source books are saying you can't copy the content.

The second confusion is that a few people have said that you can't make money out of it, but the developers are already making money by monetizing their app. I want to make more money by putting it in the "in app-purchases" category, so why can't I do that?

  • 1
    Thanks for improving your question by making it clear what you want to know. In future, this should be done using the edit link, and not by posting a new question.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 17:32
  • If you have so much problem using the book you have as a source, here's a copy of one book; I have not been able to find the other.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 17:41
  • @SingulaereEntitaet please don't answer in comments - that's what answers are for.
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 19:20
  • Here is LawSE's FAQ on copyright, which may assist: law.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/541/…
    – user35069
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 23:04

2 Answers 2


The author of the book may have a copyright, because he created a new piece of work from the/a original work. For example, by translating it in another language or in a modernized language, by rearranging the content, by adding images or commentaries etc. You will therefore have to find a book or other source that is not or not anymore copyrighted.


For a direct answer, Singulaere Entitaet is absolutely correct.

This will attempt to provide a more conceptual answer:

How can any publisher claim copyright on the teachings of person who lived in India centuries ago? The publisher is not claiming copyright on the teachings of anyone. You can't claim copyright on ideas (any idea; technical or systematic ideas are protected by patents, not copyright); rather, the publisher is claiming copyright on the particular "creative" version of the teachings that they have published.

Since these ancient teachings are in the public domain, anyone can make a derivative work from them; the publisher has done so, and so can claim copyright on their derivative work; this only extends to their "creative"(in the legal, rather than common meaning) changes to the original work(which they do not have copyright over), including such things as: translation and/or modernization of the text, formatting, arrangement and organization, fonts, foot notes, chapter titles, added images or diagrams, and other things of this nature.

Essentially, you can do whatever you want with Chanakya Niti, but not that book's version of it. The publisher could conceivably still sue you, but would have to show that you used their version, rather than a public domain version.

How can make money on this? From a legal perspective, one can absolutely make money on this. However, barring something special, everyone can do exactly what you do, so you can't make a lot of money (or others will undercut you).

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