I read a great book about programming and I want to create an online video course based on it. Essentially, "convert" it into a video format by explaining the things I understood in my own words, but still following the structure and order of the book. I'm not going to copy any text or images directly from the book.

There are several concerns I have:

  1. This seems perfectly legal since I'm creating my own original content being impressed by the book. But I'm not sure. Are there any caveats maybe?
  2. Is it legal to use the name of the book in the name of my course? For example, "Online course: Exploring the 'XXX' book by John Doe".
  3. Is it legal to re-draw in my own style the illustrations and tables and use them in the videos?
  4. Is there a way to to re-write the programming code from the book, modifying it somehow to make it legal?

Thank you.

  • In which country? Copyright laws vary wildly among different jurisdictions. Mar 22, 2016 at 1:53
  • @gabrieldiego Say, the book is published in UK and the videos are made in Finland
    – rakhim
    Mar 22, 2016 at 7:24
  • 1
    I'm interested in this too. I wonder if one option is to provide the students with a copy of the book in their registration fee. Then you are sort of a facilitator of the original book - using examples from the book, excerpting the most important parts to deliver the course you are creating. I am in the US. Mar 22, 2016 at 14:19
  • Using the name is a question of trademark law, not copyright law. The rest seems in a very gray area of copyright which depends a lot on details and interpretation. Whether it's legal or not might depend on who has the better lawyer.
    – Philipp
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


explaining the things I understood in my own words, but still following the structure and order of the book

That sounds to me like the creation of a derivative work, at least under US law. Structure and order are protected elements of the expression of a copyrighted work, unless thy are obvious and natural, such a a purely chronological or alphabetical arrangement of items.

  • I don't know about that. It sounds more like using a textbook or literary book in the course of teaching a class, or literary criticism. Neither of those things are grounds for a copyright infringement lawsuit.
    – ohwilleke
    May 20 at 17:17
  • @ohwilleke A video is a tangible document, so it could be considered a derivative work. Teaching from a textbook would only fall afoul of copyright if it were considered a "public performance" of the original work, which seems like a stretch.
    – Barmar
    May 21 at 17:08
  • However, this might be fair use. It has educational purpose, that's one of the factors. Just copying the overall organization (e.g. chapter order) might be insubstantial enough that it meets that criterion.
    – Barmar
    May 21 at 17:10
  • And it would definitely help if the video is free rather than commercial.
    – Barmar
    May 21 at 17:11

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