I recently read a non-fiction work about a little known historical event in the US. The story was facinating to say the least. The author intertwined historical and scientific facts at such a high level it made Michael Crichton look like a picture book writer. I had to wade through a vast amount of data to dig out the heart of the story which is the people and how their lives were changed as well as the greater impact on the nation as a whole. The author did his research taking information he found in historical documents, publications from the time, personal diaries, oral tradition and local folklore compiling them all into story of triumph and tragedy.
I used to teach elementary school and always classics to my class The Secret Garden; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Island of the Blue Dolphins; Bridge to Terabithia no matter what age I taught. I feel this non-fiction compilation of facts could be turned into a compelling Historical Fiction story for elementary readers.
Here's my question: Can I use the research from this book to create a fictional account and characters for my own book? Is it piggy-backing or plagiarism?
No, only about 30%. This book was deep and heavy.
The basic copyright issue...is you cannot copyright a fact. So if u are using those facts for your own version of events, you are fine.
However, a publishing company can copyright a book of facts, for instance, a dictionary or similar. So if the book was a list of facts, and you copied those hundreds of facts exactly, you would be on dangerous territory. However, if you gathered facts and presented them in a new way, you would be fine.
But personally, i would want to do some of my own research to add to what you know from that source..it would make it more interesting.
Hope that helps
Thanks, John. That is the way I was leaning. I am wanting to know if anyone felt the same or had a differing opinion. This work was genius arranging of facts. Only the last page and half was the author's opinion.
The challenging thing for writers is there is not much legal law..its all case law. So your best instinct is always to try to keep a sense of fairness and respect for the others' creation in your mind, and try to be creating something new. That way you are not only protecting yourself, but creating a new work of art that is interesting on its own.