Legal Question in Intellectual Property in California

PubMed is a U.S. government search engine that allows the public to freely access many copyrighted scientific papers or copyrighted abstracts.

When citing sources, commercial health information websites link to these papers/abstracts on PubMed and summarize the key and essential information laid out in these copyrighted works and then derive a profit from it (ads, ebooks, etc).

Example, Section 2:

Am I allowed to summarize the key facts and findings of copyrighted works hosted by PubMed for commercial purposes; without seeking the permission of anyone?

Asked on 7/11/19, 3:42 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Frank Natoli Natoli-Legal, LLC

The facts and findings are not protectable on their own. Copyright protects creative expression. So for example, a recipe is not protected as it is just a fact, but a recipe book can be protected because the order and organization of the book anecdotal material that attend the recipes, any illustrations that accompany the material, etc. presumably all possess a modicum of creative expression to warrant copyright protection.

That said, restating actual facts in your own words or using short quotes from a larger body of work should not be a problem.

Before you commit to anything, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.

Our firm is now referred by the American Bar Association (see under the New York section):

Kind regards,



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DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.

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Answered on 7/12/19, 7:21 am

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