I obtained a foreign language dictionary in PDF format, whose copyright information states the following:

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owners and the publisher of this book.

Would it be in violation of the above copyright to do the following:

  • Produce open source software that parses or analyzes freely available text using the data in the dictionary without providing the dictionary data (PDF) itself
  • Include, as part of the software, the means for storing entries from the dictionary, so long as the stored data is never made publicly available, and is restricted to private, individual, domestic use

In short, do I have the right to produce software which would make available the means to use the PDF's dictionary data, including storing it, but which would also never make such data available to the user and would require them to obtain the copyrighted document themselves?

  • 1
    "...no part of this publication...in any form or by any means..." Aug 22, 2021 at 1:20
  • Presumably you have this PDF under some license. Otherwise you are already in violation of copyright. If you have a licence, what does it say about copies and use? Aug 22, 2021 at 20:35
  • It was provided free of charge by the author himself, although an actual publisher was involved. The quote I provided in the OP is what it says about copies. I understand I cannot reproduce or store its data, but I wonder how that applies to private usage, since technically writing a page out by hand consitutes a "copy".
    – souser
    Aug 23, 2021 at 0:33
  • My question is around providing only the means for doing such a thing without supplying either the document or its data in any form. And if it is done, it is done privately using a legally obtained copy. In a sense, similar to what universities allow as far as making a photocopy of pages of a book. If my understanding here is incorrect, this is what I would appreciate clarificaiton on. Thanks!
    – souser
    Aug 23, 2021 at 0:36

1 Answer 1



Providing you can do all this without ever copying the dictionary or making a translation of it.

So, for example, if this dictionary was made available by the author online and you queried it (through an API or otherwise) that would not infringe copyright because no copy is being made. However, if you made a copy and stored it on your own server for this purpose, that would be a violation.

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