# Legality of posting some solutions of math problems from a textbook to the internet?

Asked by

shared3 (

921
)
March 26th, 2010

I know I should consult a lawyer, but I just want a preliminary opinion from Fluther.

So, I want to post some problems from a math textbook with my solutions, but would this be legal? I wouldn’t be profiting, it’d be for educational purposes, and of course, I’d acknowledge the source. I looked up “fair use” and from what I understand, what it boils down to is whether I’d be reducing the market for the original, which I most certainly wouldn’t…and I doubt that in practice I’d get in serious trouble (talk about bad publicity for the textbook publisher). Still, I want a second (or third) opinion on this before I post anything on the internet.

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## 9 Answers

Just because you post them doesn’t mean they are solutions. You are legally able to post anything that you create on the web. If these solutions are your creation, then they are yours to post.

@ RealEyesRealizeRealLies: I just realizeds that I was a bit unclear. The solutions would be mine, yes, but I’d like to include the original problems.

Then you should cite the authors of the original problems along with your solutions.

When we have wolframalpha.com at our disposal, you needn’t worry about posting a couple math problems. Wolfram IS the math text book with every answer inside.

@rpmpseudonym: I LOVE that site, but Wolfram Alpha doesn’t have problems directly from a textbook…

There is a likelihood that by posting answers you would decrease the value of the book. That is what copyright protection is to guard against. Because it’s not just reproducing content but giving away answers that students are meant to learn to compute on their own, it is even more of a reduction of value than just copying. I can’t think of any way of looking at this that would make it all right to do, either legally or ethically.

I am not a lawyer, so this is a layperson’s opinion and not legal advice.

@Jeruba: Hmm..I hadn’t thought about that argument…but the thing is, there are already answers and even solutions to the textbook. The solutions are really bad though while mine are step-by-step. Admittedly, this would make cheating much easier, but on the other hand, my solutions wouldn’t cover that many problems, just a few from each section. And as previously mentioned, WolframAlpha can also be used to cheat.

@shared3, if this were my idea, the folks whose approval I’d be interested in would be the publishers of the textbook. They own the rights, and they’re the ones who will take action if they’re not pleased. You might not enjoy being on the defending end of their displeasure.

On the other hand, it’s possible that they might take in *interest* in your stepwise solutions and possibly even consider *purchasing* the rights to them. You never know. I would recommend inquiring.

Are the copyrights on mathematical solutions? Gee, do we break the law when we lurve people on Fluther? After all it all adds up.

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