Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

I saw a question in SO and the best answer that could think of was a diagram that I had seen in a book. I took a snapshot, pasted it in my answer and gave a link to the book's website.

Is ok to do this? Is it not illegal?

Generally is it legally and morally an acceptable behavior to give answer by referencing a paragraph in a book that has copyright?

share|improve this question
I assume you're referring to this answer? At the very least I would not just say "taken from here" and then include a link. I would explicitly state (perhaps at the bottom) where you got the figure from as well (book title, author names, etc.). In general you can't just copy copyrighted content. In this specific case perhaps it falls under "fair use", but that's a tricky exception to copyright law and IANAL. – Bart Sep 10 '12 at 13:01
I already entered the name of the book and authors in alt section of diagram, but now I'm explicitly mentioning them. Also, if you follow the link, you can easily download the diagram. – Rsh Sep 10 '12 at 13:08
That something is "easily downloadable" does not mean a thing. Heck, most of my photography is easily downloadable. But if you use it without my permission I'll find you and beat your ass. ;) – Bart Sep 10 '12 at 13:09
Though it seems that for this particular case the authors state "This page contains our original Powerpoint line drawings for each figure in the CS:APP2e book that you can include in your lectures." ... which might indicate that they don't mind you using it, if you given them proper credit. But only the authors could confirm this I guess. – Bart Sep 10 '12 at 13:12
Note that the image alt attribute is not meant for additional information. – Arjan Sep 11 '12 at 5:13
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Everywhere in the world, you can republish with the consent of the author of the book.

If you do not have that, the answer depends on a jurisdiction. What you describe would fall under the fair use doctrine in the US, assuming that the book has tons of valuable content beyond that diagram.

To stay on the safe side, quote the source. Do not appear as substituting its content, appear as promoting that book or entering a dialogue with it. This is not only the ethical thing to do, and the way of reusing the diagram that is most useful to your audience; it also is how the limits of fair use are ultimately tested in the court.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .