There are some books published without a back-of-book index, which I feel is a dreadful shame. As part of my research I decided to create an index of one such book. Doing so is legal for my own use, and would be illegal (I guess) if I tried to sell copies...but what if I shared the new index on a website, or gave printed copies away for free?
For a book that is 'out of copyright' in my country then I guess this is allowed? What if the book is not in the public domain? I assume we have to look at the 4 'fair use' guidelines?
I haven't copied anything verbatim from the original book, just individual words. I haven't detracted from the book's sales or rivalled the publisher's business in any way. I am not making a profit. I'm doing this for scholarly reasons. I'm a complete amateur at indexing and am not trying to showcase my skills in order to get hired.
However, you could argue that the magnitude of my act somehow encompasses the entirety of the original book. Perhaps the author/publisher would feel annoyed that I'd somehow usurped their authority in some way? Am I on safe ground?
Can you argue my usage was "transformative" enough to go beyond being a copy?
(I could ask the copyright holder's permission, but let us imagine they are impossible to track down, or that I end up with 100 such indexes to share.)
You cannot give me legal advice, of course, but has anyone seen a similar situation which helps shed light on this grey area? Or heard about something along the same lines in another industry? I'm in the UK but am interested in answers about the US situation too.