I'm keeping a GitHub repository that contains my personal notes. While I feel comfortable with releasing most of the things in the public domain, that repository does contain some quotes, mostly from the books I liked (random example), that might be considered as proprietary.

Even though I'm well aware that I could re-use these quotes (since they're just a sentence or two long) under fair use, I'm not sure if releasing them under public domain is a copyright infringement or not. If it is, what can I do to exclude the files containing the quotes from the license?

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    "Fair Use" is complicated, and length of material used is only partly related to it - in that you should use only an amount of the original that is reasonable to achieve your goals - mainly the goals/purpose of your work needs to be something compatible with fair use. I don't know the status of short quotes in general, but in cases of reported sayings by real people (as opposed to quotes pulled from fiction), then you can re-type them from source (effectively you are reporting them) so you are OK provided you don't just cut&paste. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 20:17
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    Without a specific FLOSS license I don't think this is on-topic - it is really a general law question, and should be migrated to Law. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 14:34
  • Related question for (Creative Commons) licenses: Do I have to exclude quotations in the license notice?
    – unor
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 1:54
  • @curiousdannii The question says "public domain", and instruments to put a work in PD, such as CC0, can be viewed as licenses. Commented May 19, 2016 at 2:55

1 Answer 1


If I were you I would always keep detailed pointers to the origin of any third-party content and their license and author details.

Whether or not fair use applies, you are not licensing the third-party quotes IMHO, but your aggregate collections of notes and your original content as well as its organization which in itself is an original copyrightable work IMHO


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