[Lexicog] Re: Use of standard definitions

Andrew Dalby akdalby at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 19 18:50:59 UTC 2006

--- In lexicographylist at yahoogroups.com, "sezame_55" <sue-52-zq at a...>
> I am Compiling selected words and their definitions from the English 
> language.  My question is:  Can I use Webster or any other dictionary 
> definition in a published work without paraphrasing or do I have to 
> quote and give source for each definition.  I am getting definitions 
> from different sources.  This is a legal question.
A rule of thumb in British publishing (not guaranteed) is that a
single extract of 100 words or less from a copyright work, or a total
in your whole book of 800 words extracted from a copyright work, with
proper acknowledgement for each extract, may be acceptable if you are
not yourself compiling a competing work. Beyond this and in all other
cases, you should seek permission in advance and will probably have to
pay for it.

If you are compiling some kind of dictionary for publication, your
work is probably competing with Webster's and you had better not take
any text at all from Webster's, unless perhaps a definition which you
are specifically and clearly quoting in order to comment on or discuss
it further. You have to make the definitions up yourself. If you can't
do that, maybe you aren't qualified to write a dictionary of English!

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