If they are, can anyone change the wording of the exercises and use them? Also could that person be in another country and translate the exercises to another language?


3 Answers 3


You would not be permitted to do that.

Copyright protection extends to:

  1. Works of authorship,
  2. That are original, and
  3. That are fixed in a tangible medium.

Olympiad problems and standardized exams meet all these criteria and are therefore generally going to be protected by copyright, giving the author the exclusive right to make copies and to make derivatives works of authorship. Making derivatives includes changing the wording of the problems, and it includes making a translation into another language.

So anyone who did what you are describing would therefore be infringing the author's copyright.


It depends on the nature of the questions. To the extent that the question presents a set of facts with a brief statement like "Account for these data", (a) that stub is not sufficiently creative that it is protected by copyright and (b) it is easy to express the same idea with different words, e.g. "Analyze these facts". Facts are not protected by copyright, though a clever ordering of the facts could be.

  • This answer definitely does not apply to Olympiad problems, and I doubt there's a standardized test anywhere on Earth that this answer would apply to. If there were, I doubt anyone would want to make a copy.
    – bdb484
    Nov 20, 2018 at 17:50
  • In my area (linguistics), very little of the subject matter of the questions is copyrightable. And we typically make copies of other people's questions. So as I said, it depends on the nature of the question.
    – user6726
    Nov 20, 2018 at 17:54
  • Who administers standardized linguistics tests?
    – bdb484
    Nov 21, 2018 at 5:29

Copying unmodified is copyright infringement. Changing the wording means you create a derived work, so it's still copyright infringement.

What you can do is write your own problems, exercises and so on, using what you remember about the original problems. To be safe, you would create some evidence that you have written the problem yourself (even though heavily inspired by someone else's).

  • This is a recommendation to violate copyright.
    – bdb484
    Nov 21, 2018 at 2:32
  • That's what many textbook publishers do. Copyright law is country dependent. Suppose that someone in india published a russian contest question word for word with perhaps a translation to english or hindi (it happens a lot), how can the russian gov punish him?
    – user5402
    Nov 21, 2018 at 16:15
  • @bdb484 Explain why. It's copy right. It's fine if you are not copying anything.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 22, 2018 at 20:45
  • 1
    You're advising that the person use a copyrighted work to create a "derived work." Creating derivatives is one of a copyright holder's exclusive rights. This is Copyright 101. 17 USC 106(2).
    – bdb484
    Nov 24, 2018 at 1:48
  • @bdb484 so theorems are copyrighted by the person who originally stated them? (plenty of theorems have been first stated by people who are still alive or who haven't been dead for 70 years yet).
    – grovkin
    Sep 11, 2020 at 21:40

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