Wanna Post Book Chapters on Facebook
February 9, 2017 6:23 PM   Subscribe

A book I found on Russia talks about what the Red Square was like in the late 1700s and I'd love to share this on Facebook--I think my friends/family might get drawn in, is the publisher likely to okay this?

When I get really excited by books I want to post somewhat-lengthy excerpts online so my friends/relatives can (maybe?) get drawn into the narrative. I actually (foolishly, perhaps) think they'd be more likely to buy the book if they read, say a 12 paragraph excerpt, rather than a single quote -- and if they only read the excerpt I'd at least be able to talk with them about that part.

The excerpts I want to post are usually 1/4th of a chapter long, maybe a couple of book pages at most.

Before I fill out a rather lengthy publisher's request form to reproduce some copyrighted work online...is this likely to be rejected. How would a publisher view this kind of request?

Someone told me this falls under Fair Use, but I'm not a instructor, so I don't think that's the case.

Thank you!!
posted by alice_curiouse to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
As per legal requirements, assuming you are in the US:

the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
the nature of the copyrighted work;
the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

If it's a work of significant length, you are not going to profit (and education is not a school-only venture in the eyes of the law, look at video and music clip usage interpretations), and this has no effect on whether a friend or relative would buy the work, you're fine. Realistically, if your Facebook account is only shared to immediate friends and relatives, unless they are able (and interested in) sharing it to a more mass audience, there is little to no chance this is an issue.

With copyright, the general issue outside of law, morally is: would someone buy this work that now would not since you shared a relative portion, and have I posted enough that the major portion of the work is now freely available.
posted by mikeh at 7:19 PM on February 9, 2017

There's no one-size-fits-all answer. Some publishers will be fine with this, some will be fine if it's excerpts from a back-list title but not from something hot off the presses (or vice-versa), and some publishers might make you take it down. If you really don't want to go through the process of getting permission, you could always go ahead and do it anyway and then wait to see if you get a take-down notice. The rights-holder basically has all the power, unless you're willing to go to court to argue that your use falls under Fair Use.
posted by rtha at 7:26 PM on February 9, 2017

Rather than filling out the paper work can you possibly piggy back on someone else whose done the work (and more importantly has deep legal pockets) namely Google? IE: check to see if the pages you want are available on Google books.
posted by Mitheral at 7:37 PM on February 9, 2017

The excellent blog Far Outliers routinely posts longish excerpts from the books the blogger is reading (currently The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West, by Peter Cozzens), and he's been doing it for years; I occasionally do it myself, and I've never heard from a publisher about it. I figure if they notice they're glad of the free publicity.
posted by languagehat at 12:12 PM on February 10, 2017

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