Legal Question in Intellectual Property in California

Can you copywrite a multiple choice question

Is it possible to copywrite a multiple choice question. I plan on using some multiple choice questions from some flashcards but they all say Copywrite 2006 on each of the cards. Does this mean I can't use the questions from the flashcards without permission.

Asked on 8/15/06, 11:48 am

4 Answers from Attorneys

Donald Cox Law Offices of Donald Cox, LLC
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Re: Can you copywrite a multiple choice question

Yes, if the question is an original work of authorship and includes copyrightable subject matter.

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Answered on 8/15/06, 12:02 pm
Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE
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Re: Can you copywrite a multiple choice question

In order to use the multiple choice questions from someone else's copyrighted flash card, you can:

a) Get permission.

b) Change the questions and answers so they are slightly different.

c) Copy the entire flash card and risk getting sued.

d) All of the above.

Answer: d) All of the above.

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Answered on 8/15/06, 1:17 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law
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Re: Can you copywrite a multiple choice question

I'd agree that the answer is yes; the message is what controls, not the medium. If you want to re-use the material, you have three choices: Stay within "fair use," get permission from the copyright holder, or modify the form of expression sufficiently so you're not infringing.

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Answered on 8/15/06, 1:20 pm
Steven Mark Steven Paul Mark, Attorney at Law
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Re: Can you copywrite a multiple choice question

You pose an interesting question. If the multiple choice questions are seeking facts as answers, you may not be infringing a copyright. For example, if the question read:

When was the Declaration of Independence written:

(a) 1688

(b) 1776

(c) 1913

(d) 1945,

I would argue the question presupposes an unprotectable fact, i.e., (b) and is not copyrightable. Answers (a), (c) and (d), however, are original expressions and would, I suspect, give a claimant a theory. But you could easily alter the "wrong" answers.

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Answered on 8/15/06, 9:39 pm

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