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I'm making an educational game to study some science topics. I want the users to know that the information in my game is real. Can I use a science book and mention it in the bibliography? Of course I will not copy / paste, I will only paraphrase some concepts.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nobody owns the facts. Addendum: The only real worry would be a direct quote. \$\endgroup\$ – Theraot Aug 7 '18 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Judging by your comments, it looks like you've found the answers here to be helpful - please consider voting on them and possibly accepting the best one. Doing so helps others who have similar questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Pikalek Oct 9 '18 at 20:42
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I Am Not A Lawyer But this is my understanding of how copyright law (in jurisdictions that I'm aware of) generally works here:

Copyright protects a document. It does not protect the factual ideas in a document. Therefore, you can learn the details of some scientific topic from a book, and afterwards write your own explanation of that topic in your game based on your new knowledge.

They may end up looking similar, since both the book and your game are describing the same real-world phenomena. But if the game is truly a separately written description of those scientific concepts rather than a paraphrasing of the contents of the book, then the game will not be a derivative work of the book under copyright law and so you don't need any particular permission from the book's author to distribute it.

If you sit down with the book open and transcribe sections of it into your game, paraphrasing it into your own words, then in my understanding it probably would be considered a derivative work (even though you have changed the words).

Of course, the difference between "these merely look similar because they're explaining the same topics" and "this is a heavily rewritten copy of that" can be quite a fuzzy line, difficult to objectively test. It's always possible that the copyright holders of the book think you have violated their copyright and are willing to take you to court over it. I have no idea exactly what standards a court might use to try to rule one way or another, but this would likely be an expensive disaster regardless of whether you really did copy their work (it's also likely to be expensive for them, so who can say how likely a possibility this really is). My personal standard would be to make sure I understand the topic well enough (probably from more than one source) that I can write an explanation myself without really needing to refer to the book, and then use the book to double check the details after I had fully written my first draft. Also, using more than one source might make it easier to make sure you're relying only on the scientific concepts, not on the particular presentation of those concepts in the one book.

Assuming you manage to make a game that is legally not a derivative work of the book, then listing the book as a source is essentially a courtesy that is unrelated to copyright. As I understand it, naming the book as your source could never make an infringing document okay nor make an otherwise original work count as a derivative.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, I read your publication very carefully. Thanks for your time. I will take the risk and mention the book as a source. After all, I have an expert on the topics that will cover the game so, it definitely will not be the exact text of the book. \$\endgroup\$ – OctavioCega Aug 8 '18 at 10:38
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Imagine if you were making bold statements, about any subject, and people asked for references. Your information would not seem credible if you said:

I can't say they book, because the book doesn't allow me

I am not a lawyer, but books, articles, papers, etc, are released to the public, therefore you can mention then, as source. It's an obvious YES to me, you can reference the sources without copyright infringement.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh thanks!! I will try to use facts without quoting text to prevent copyright problems ! \$\endgroup\$ – OctavioCega Aug 8 '18 at 10:29

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