Using known quotes paired with my illustrations as illustrated-quotes -- is this okay?
3 attorney answers
Let's make this easy. Use only quotations from before 1900 and you are golden. Otherwise, you will need to check the copyright status. It's complicated and really do need professional help.
All comments on this site are 'in the cloud' and do not form an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Just consider them ideas for discussion. J
I agree with my colleague that if you are planning to use content which is under active copyright, you need to protect yourself from liability by retaining counsel. If you are planning to use content which is in the public domain, then you should be fine to proceed with your project (but you might save yourself a lot of money and headache by investing in confirming that the content is in the public domain).
As I understand, your content, in various formats, will present famous quotes and couple them with your original illustrations (i.e. your visual interpretation of the quote). The question is whether you can freely use these quotes in your content. Is your use of the quotes a "fair use", a defense to copyright infringement, rooted in the First Amendment right to free speech? I've written a short article in the International Academy of Web & Television blog, which I've linked to below if you want more details on the fair use defense for content producers and publishers.
In a fair use analysis, your copyright attorney will analyze each instance "protected content" is used in your content, and make a legal determination on whether your use of the protected content is fair use, or not, or is otherwise likely to cause legal issues for you as you distribute your content. It's a case by case analysis and I can list all of the factors here, but if you're serious about publishing business in the personal development genre, you need legal counsel, specially if you're using other people's content and not wholly original work, and you're not only publishing a book but also greeting-cards, flyers, and other physical and digital "merchandising". This all needs legal review.
The best thing for you to do is hire an experienced intellectual property / copyright attorney that knows about online and e-publishing business. This attorney can not only analyze your initial content for infringement and other issues, but can also consult and negotiate contracts with website developers, marketers, and other third parties that you, the producer, will work with to create, legally protect, and exploit your content, even though you're "Using Other People's Content".
This content is a discussion of legal issues and general information; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such without seeking professional legal counsel. Reading the content does not create an attorney-client relationship.