Copyright issues with text rather than photos?

If you write a book which includes brief, properly-attributed quotations from someone else’s book, and those quotations fall under fair use, that does not conflict with your copyright of the book that you wrote. I frequently see legitimately published books that have fair-use quotations from other books.

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Yes, this is absolutely true. However, my point is that you cannot enforce your copyright on that text alone (it would generally be fine to copyright your work which included a referenced quotation to another work where you added value/built on it).

The situation described by the OP involves an unreferenced/unattributed quotation, which is often the sole content of the iNaturalist observation text (ie may have no original content from the observer), which is already under some form of copyright or copyleft license (ie, copy/pasting a Wikipedia entry without attribution). For instance, for most Wikipedia text, attribution is required by the license to use the text (

This is an issue because iNat is automatically adding a license of some sort to each observation (which is often not CC0). So, for instance, if I added an unattributed quotation from a Wikipedia article in the notes field of my observation, and had my iNat observations defaulting to CC-BY-NC or similar, I would be claiming rights to the distribution of that text, and my use and claim would not conform to the license Wikipedia granted use under.

In this case, I would be claiming a license I don’t have the right to enforce. Otherwise, I could just copy any text without attribution, post it under my name with a license, and claim copyright over it!

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and AGAIN… copyright is automatic, you don’t copyright something, it just IS (or more accurately HAS) copyright. A license is the implicit giving away [a portion of] that right, not creating it in the first place.

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