Partially Off Topic: Legal Status of Excerpts in Dictionaries and Quotation Books

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 30 00:27:50 UTC 2010

Dictionaries like the OED contain an enormous number of example
sentences extracted from copyrighted texts. Quotation books also
contain large numbers of copyrighted passages. I thought this use was
allowed in the United States under the "fair use" doctrine, but I
cannot point to a specific legal ruling.

The webpage at the U.S Copyright Office about Fair Use is ambiguous
and tentative:

Could an editor, publisher, or lawyer share thoughts on this topic?
Does the OED contact authors to clear rights to sentences? Does the
YBQ obtain permission from writers to include specific quotations?
Have publishers or authors received warning letters from lawyers?

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list