Copyright in Quotes

9 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2011

See all articles by Tissya Mandal

Tissya Mandal

India University - West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS)

Date Written: October 12, 2010


The research paper gives a brief overview of copyright law as it relates to using quotations and extracts from other people’s writing. Copyright law protects expressions of ideas rather than the ideas themselves. Under section 13 of the Copyright Act 1957, copyright protection is conferred on literary works, dramatic works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph films and sound recording. Copyright refers to a bundle of exclusive rights vested in the owner of copyright by virtue of Section 14 of the Act. These rights can be exercised only by the owner of copyright or by any other person who is duly licensed in this regard by the owner of copyright. These rights include the right of adaptation, right of reproduction, right of publication, right to make translations, communication to public etc. Reproducing or communicating copyright material without the copyright owner’s permission may infringe copyright. Reproducing or communicating part of a work may also infringe copyright. When is permission needed to use a quotation? There are two ways in which the word “quote” is understood. It can either be an extract from a larger work (for example, a paragraph or couple of sentences or lines from a book, report or poem), or it can be an entire quote itself (for example, a bumper sticker quote or a slogan). If quote you propose to use is not an extract from a longer work, but “stands alone” as a short phrase, it may be too small or unoriginal to be a “work”, and thus not protected by copyright. Under this heading fate of quotes used in research study or as news element shall be looked into. Basically the first part of the project shall observe whether or not you need permission to use quotes and extracts will generally depend on whether or not what you want to use is a “substantial part” of the work from which it comes. The concept of a “substantial part” is judged by whether or not what you want to use is important, essential or distinctive.

Keywords: quotations, copyright law, de minimis, copyrightability, small phrases, originality, sweat of brow

Suggested Citation

Mandal, Tissya, Copyright in Quotes (October 12, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Tissya Mandal (Contact Author)

India University - West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) ( email )

12, LB Block, Sector III
Salt Lake City
Kolkata, West Bengal 700 064

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