“I won’t earn a profit on my book so I can use other authors’ works under fair use copyright law, right?”

“I won’t earn a profit on my book so I can use other authors’ works under fair use copyright law, right?”

Q –


I’m not planning to make a profit on my book so I’m calling it non-profit. That means I can use the “fair use” doctrine, and include other authors’ works in my book, right?

A –

No, no, no! To be completely honest, questions like this always make me cringe. By contacting me today, you may have avoided a lawsuit, or two, or a few.

Unless you have created and registered an actual 501(c)(3) non-profit with the government, your publishing enterprise is NOT considered a “non profit.”

Please read this excellent article about fair use copyright law.

And, read this article on how to start a non-profit.

I think you will find that simply asking permission to include others’ works in your book is far easier, and cheaper, in the long run.


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One Response to "“I won’t earn a profit on my book so I can use other authors’ works under fair use copyright law, right?”"

  1. Wendy Jones  March 5, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Three comments here, Angela:

    1). I applaud this person for being savvy enough to ask this question of you. Now, we can all read a couple of good articles.

    2). If someone is going to say upfront, ‘(I am not) going to make a profit on (my) book..” what did that person spend time writing it for? Maybe there are other reasons for writing a book than to sell it. I for one think a book is a small business endeavor, and he/she is foolish.

    3). I am on the boards of two 501(c)3 organizations. I can say with certainty that your advice saved him/her a world of expensive pain over a self avowed ‘nothing book’.