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Vignan   06 December 2015

Ebook & copyright violation

There are books published by a local publisher which has all previous semester exam questions with their answers. This is specifically for Engineering. I would like to create an eBook similar to that and release it for free with ads for revenue generation. I have some details to present before asking questions. I would like to use mathematical equations as images & theoretical concepts as text data.

  1. These books have both mathematical and theoretical content.
  2. We have various app which can be used to create images of mathematical equations.
  3. Previously I thought the theoretical content was directly copied from other publisher's books, but I was wrong.
  4. The publisher modified the theoretical content to simplify it for students.
  5. The circuit diagrams and other diagrams used in theoretical concepts may have been customized as well for simplicity.


  1. If a mathematical question has an answer, can anyone claim copyright on the answer? For example, a mathematical questions like "Find whether the following system of equations are consistent. If so, solve them: 2x - y + z = 5; 3x + y - 2z = -1; x - 3y - z = 2".
  2. I cannot imagine this question being answered any differently than what is stated in the syllabus. Sure the explanation of the answer may be slightly different like instead of writing "Adding equation (1), (2) & (3)", I may write "Adding equation (A), (B) & (C)". But is this even necessary?
  3. Since we have a software which can generate images of mathematical equations, can I simply scan the mathematical equation and use it? Can I say that I got the image created instead of saying I copied it directly?
  4. If I can use the scanned image of the equations from the book, what modifications are required from me to be able to use the scanned images?
  5. Theoretical content is simply scientific concepts. For example, "Describe Laue's method for the determination of crystal structure." or "What are Brillouin zones? Explain using E-K diagrams". The concept is the same in almost any engineering book you choose, but can I use same exact content from this book in my ebook as well?
  6. Since the theoretical concepts have diagrams as well, can I use the same diagrams?
  7. Do I need the permission of the publisher for this? Can I do this without their permission since it is not their original content and they must have referenced other engineering books to draft this content?
  8. If I need to modify the content to be able to use it, what should be the scale of modification? 60%, 70%, 90%?

If I cannot get answers in a response to this question, can I have a call to get my doubts clarified?


 4 Replies

Rajiv Thakur   06 December 2015

Hi there If I got your point right than u meant to say , You are willing to create an educational book/app for students containing exams questions etc. And you are willing to do it free educational aid. My answer is, you arefree to do so without any hesitation. All exams conducted by recognized boards/ uni falls in public domain. U r safe unless you are not using someone's own idea creation, intellectual creation. Ex. Its not illegal per se to publish Q&A of any exam even if some publisher done so before stating in its publishing....however if beyond to it there is extra innovative effort is made by him to simplify the answers or topic (which is his intellect). In such case u may talk to such publisher and convince him. Morover you may quote their published book name wherever you using his contents. Or a thank note. If in case they are not allowing you. Go with your own genuine content.

T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate (Advocate)     13 December 2015

Instead of taking permission from the publisher, you can add a sentence at the end as 'courtesy .........Publisher'  on those sensitiv areas where you think a dispute can arise.  No doubt legally no case is tenable. 

Dr Katta Venkata Rama Krishna (Retd Sr Director Govt of India/ Advocate)     15 December 2015

The Copy Right Act inter-alia provides certain exemptions, without need to first obtain permission from the copyright holder.

For the purpose of Research, education and study,

For learning and teaching in a class room,

Under the Teach Act 2002, Sec 110(1 & 2), the Copy Right Law provides educators with a separate set of rights in addition to fair use, to display and perform others work in the classroom.

Copying for examination and for instruction,

Fair use (making copies) not for profit,

Needless to add, the original author is always acknowledged by giving reference.

jyotirmaya behera (advocate)     16 December 2015

You can use those but it need the approval from the 1st side. It is a general purpose and you can use  but you can’t use accurate what he is mention. Normally that is a mathematics you can not use his stapes but in different stapes you can takes for solution of the query.

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