I am planning to write a book about an open source software product. Should I contact the creator of that software and get their explicit permission for writing the book? Or can I continue without consulting the creator and risk copyright infringement issues?

  • 2
    I'm not a copyright lawyer, but it's always more polite to ask permission. Even if the person isn't legally required to give it, it's kind to acknowledge their efforts. Sep 13 '16 at 0:34
  • Where do you live? Is the company situated in the same country? If not, where? This site is used by people from all over the world. Laws are different in different countries. So please provide the details necessary to give a meaningful answer.
    – user5645
    Oct 18 '16 at 14:43

Copyright covers the expression of an idea. The author of the software has copyright on their code. But the result of that code is a subject in the public domain that anyone is free to write about.

On the other hand, you should certainly write to the author of the software and tell them you are writing a book about it and ask for their cooperation. For one thing, this will impress a potential publisher. For another, if you can get an endorsement from the author of the software or maybe get them to write an introduction for the book, that will really help to market the book (which in turn will impress the publisher.)

  • I agree with almost all of this. I wouldn't say that the idea embodied in the result of the code is in the public domain so much as that it isn't subject to copyright, however an expression of that idea would be. The methodology of the software could be patented, but then you could still discuss it you just couldn't create a competing product using the methodology. And of course you need to watch for trademarks.
    – nephlm
    Sep 13 '16 at 14:43
  • You are right to say you want the author's cooperation (for additional information, hidden features, etc.) and their endorsement. Sep 13 '16 at 16:27

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