I've seen many books and apps meant to teach the teachings of Person X, who died centuries ago. I have a book by Party B called "Life according to Person X". This book says "All Rights Reserved" and it also says

Under the Indian Copyright Act, all rights of the contents and photographs of this book are reserved by Publisher B, B Address. Therefore, no part of this book including the name, title, design, inside matter or photographs be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means, in full or in part, in any language. Breach of this condition is liable to legal action and fine.

Can Party B have the exclusive right to distribute this content? If Party A makes an app almost entirely based on Person X's teaching, can Party B accuse Party A of violating any sort of law? Could Party A then monetise this app?

Is it legal for Party A to use Person X's quotes/teachings souced from Party B's book? Why, and under what circumstances?

  • Are you asking about copyright or about distribution?
    – user4657
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 18:26
  • @Nij I think this question is about copyright.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 18:30
  • So why is distribution relevant?
    – user4657
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 18:31
  • @Nij It's relevant because the content is from a copyrighted book but is public domain content. (This question is heavily based on this one, but the OP kept rejecting suggested edits so I was told to post another question by a flag handler.)
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


Person X's teachings would not be subject to copyright. Author B's account of person X's teachings would.

If you research, say Buddhism, from various sources you could create a "Basic Buddhism" app and not be infringing. But if you based the app largely on a book Buddhism 101 that could be a derivative work, and thus infringe, if you copied text, or the selection and arrangement of ideas. The publisher does not have the exclusive right to distribute any book or app about Buddhism, but it does have exclusive rights to the specific text Buddhism 101 (if the author made that deal).

Conclusion: don't use a single source. Research your target in multiple sources, and rework the ideas into your own organization, and your own words. You should cite specific sources where unique information was obtained.

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