Is there any issues with writing a book and publishing it that is based on topics and concepts that the technical industry previously coined? Several books have been written on the topics, I just wanted to add my view and expand on the topics. This would be my first book, so I don’t have much understand... Or do I just need to cite them in the works cited references? Do I actually need to contact them and get written permission to reference their concepts in my book?
Sorry for all the newbie questions.

  • Are you concerned with copyright infringement or plagiarism, and if it's plagiarism are you concerned with formal, academic standards or in in a more general "public opinion" way?
    – smithkm
    Feb 19, 2020 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


You are essentially describing the purposes of Scientific writing. Scientific papers are written citing earlier works and then confirming, developing or possibly refuting them.

This is how science works.

Your suggestion of doing the same, with technical books replacing scientific papers, is just following the same principles. As long as you give full credit for where your quotes or concepts come from, and don't copy great tracts of text verbatim, there is no difference.

  • 2
    Indeed, such things already exist. See, for example, every third party "how to use X software" guide ever made. Feb 10, 2020 at 13:19
  • 1
    There is no legal requirement to give full credit. You are under no legal obligation to give credit to anyone for anything unless you specifically agreed to give credit in exchange for something. Feb 10, 2020 at 22:37

It would depend on two things. One, is the writing presented as fact or fiction, and Two whether the author is presenting the concept as a unique concept of their own creation or if they are explicitly writing about a concept that originated elsewhere.

If the author is writing an unambiguously fiction account that makes use of a concept that originated elsewhere then this would be protected by most free speech laws. So long as it does not breach libel laws.

If the author is writing a factual account in which they make it appear as if a concept is their own, then this could breach multiple laws ranging from libel to copyright\patent laws. Depending on the actual topic of the book.

For example, it is perfectly legal to write a technical manual detailing how to repair a piece of equipment created by somebody else.

In all factual cases, if the author fail to offer citations and attributions, then they open themselves up accusations of plagiarism, or similar ethics violations. This is not the same as creating a legal liability but it will harm the credibility of the author and the material produced.

In general, good citations and firm attributions are indicative of strong ethics and good research. While a lack of either speaks to the opposite.

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