As far as I know - and I've written 6 paper books and many articles myself - you are allowed to take short bits of text for review purposes, for example; or say you are making a point in another place and want to quote a source.
You should always give full reference. I would guess most authors are very happy about this and the added circulation of their names.
It's when you take 'substantial' chunks from a work without permission, that it starts infringing copyright - and even that definition, at the end of the day - depends on the interpretation of the courts.
Lastly: to quote 'substantially' from a book, you would need the publisher's permission, since they will have the copyright to 'volume rights'; to quote from an article, it will be the author, since they normally only give what's called 'first serial rights' (ie just for that edition of the mag).
If in doubt, I'd ask - it's only courteous I suppose!
A few lines from a book comes under the fair use clause/doctrine. Very little problems in my experience. Long passages are another thing. You could always say something like "According to Friar Froggerbottom, in his 1956 book: ‘Fishing for Parakeets’..." should cover you.
People these days are concerned about copyright but few really understand the little nooks and crannies in the law.
For example, this notion that as soon as you create something, it is protected. However, if you visit the official site, you will learn that this is true, but to fight it in court, one has to properly register the work. Very confusing.
The following is a direct (and legal) quote from the "Rights and Permissions" section in the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, 1993, Chicago and London, paragraph 4.51:
"The fair use doctrine of the US copyright law allows you to quote from other authors' works or to reproduce small amounts of graphic or pictorial material for purposes of review or criticism or to illustrate or buttress their own points. Authors invoking fair use should transcribe accurately and give credit to their sources. They should not quote out of context, making the author of the quoted passage seem to be saying something opposite to, or different from, what was intended."
There are two more pages of details and examples in that Manual which is the most recent version, plus this conclusion in paragraph 4.58 which may come as a surprise to some of you :
"A word of practical caution: if a use appears to be fair, the author should probably NOT ask permission (emphasis in original). The right of fair use is a valuable one to scholarship, and it should not be allowed to decay through the failure of scholars to employ it boldly. Furthermore, excessive caution can be dangerous if the copyright owner proves to be uncooperative. Far from establishing good faith and protecting the author from suit or unreasonable demands, a permission request may have just the opposite effect. The act of seeking permission indicates that the author feels permission is needed, and the tacit admission may be damaging to the author's defense."
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