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Reproducing questions

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:20 am
by 0403843
I have a site/blog for a small niche of students.

I wanted to post up a quiz on my site with 100 questions from the subject.

What is the rules regarding questions?

For example, if I posted up a question:

Describe the vascular anatomy of the foot

Then I found that another, older website had

What is the vascular anatomy of the foot

Would that be copyright infringement?

How many points of difference does there need to be? How can I be certain that my questions are not infringing anyone's copyright.

I make money on my blog via adverts if that makes a difference.

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:14 am
by AndyJ
Copyright is intended to protect original creative work which is recorded in some manner. It is not concerned with the commonplace, with facts and with trivial things. We are each able to use the English (or any other) language to express ourselves. So assuming that you make up your own questions from scratch without actually copying anyting from another place, you will be fine. There is no prohibition against two people independently coming up with the same idea (unlike say, patent law which does create a monopoly situation). If your questions and those of another site are both based on a common syllabus, it is inevitable that you will need to pose similar questions.
Furthermore, in certain circumstances, if the purpose is for educational reasons, copying can be lawful:
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
32 Things done for purposes of instruction or examination.

(1) Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is not infringed by its being copied in the course of instruction or of preparation for instruction, provided the copying—

(a )is done by a person giving or receiving instruction,

(b) is not done by means of a reprographic process, and

(c) is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement,

and provided that the instruction is for a non-commercial purpose.
Note the last provisiion. The fact that you have adverts on your site, does not necessarily mean that the instruction is for commercial reasons, since the students are not themselves required to pay for the instruction etc. The same would apply to a fee-paying school provided it had charitable status. However I am not sure that the service you are offering would qualify under this heading. In subsequent sections of the Act, various exemptions apply only to 'educational establishments'. These are defined as any school (as defined in the Education Act 1996), and any other establishments as are specified by the Secretary of State.

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:30 am
by 0403843
Thats great. I was just confused as so many books or websites offer past papers, questions etc. and when you read them they have pretty much the same questions.

I also found this on wikipedia under "Sweat of the brow":

In University of London Press v University Tutorial Press, the question arose as to whether certain mathematics exam papers were original literary works. The exam papers just consisted of conventional maths problems in a conventional manner. The court held that originality does not mean that the work must be an expression of individual thought. The simple fact that the authors drew on a body of knowledge common to mathematicians did not compromise originality. The requirement of originality, it was held, does not require that expression be in an original or novel form. It does, however, require that the work not be copied from another work. It must originate from the author. As such, even though these were the same old maths problems every student is familiar with, and even though there was no creative input, the skill, labour, and judgement of the authors was sufficient to make the papers original literary works.

I tried to post the link and couldnt but if you look up "Sweat of the brow" on wikipedia you can find the article I quoted from