In my answer to this question I included a whole passage of a textbook as an image in order to save me the time to write up this part myself. Is this ok (as long as I give a reference to the source, of course) or are there some legal issues?

  • $\begingroup$ Whoa, long answer. Looks like I already upvoted it though :) $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2013 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth Originally, I wanted to keep my answer short, but when the OP asked for details concerning the specific way the reactants approach one another, I couldn't think of a way to avoid a long answer ;) $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Jun 22, 2013 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ Note: if the OP asks for more details for an answer that is addressing the question, you're under no obligation to provide them. Of course, if you want to, that's great :) I'm particularly fond of longer answers, because there are a lot more treasures buried in them. $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2013 at 21:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth In this case I took the opportunity to get my thoughts on the subject straight, though it took a lot more time than I expected. It is mostly an "educated guess" on my side, so I also hope that experienced users who read it and discover flaws in my interpretation can correct me. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Jun 22, 2013 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, I find that answering stuff is a great opportunity to un-abstractify thoughts. This is true for teaching in general, for that matter (I'm not a teacher, but I do try explaining stuff to those who ask for it). And, of course, answering leads to people pointing out where one went wrong. Always good to know :) $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2013 at 21:14

1 Answer 1


Yes, this is OK. Try to use blockquote formatting (select the text and use the quotation mark button on the editing toolbar) when quoting text from a book. In this case you've used an image, so you don't need to blockquote.

Stack Exchange is protected as a DMCA safe harbor, so even if copyright violations are posted, neither Stack Exchange is not liable (you may be, but till date I haven't seen a case where that has happened). If the copyright holder wishes, he can easily submit a DMCA takedown request to SE, and they will remove the relevant content.

While it's not against the rules to quote from books, it's always a good idea to have a good amount of "wrapper" material that you've written to go around the quote. This is to better tailor the answer to the question (a quote rarely exactly addresses a question), and also to make the answer less dependent on the quote. Even before the huge edit, your answer had a nice amount of wrapper text :)

So you're fine. Carry on :)

  • $\begingroup$ Safe harbor explicitly mentions the service provider, which is SE in this case. Is there documentation that supports your argument that the user who answers the question is not liable either? $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2013 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ @bobthechemist Turns out that it's quote the opposite, a copyright holder can issue a subpeona to get the user's identity. Not really sure what can happen after that. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2013 at 12:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .