Assume that you are a student attending on a standard mathematics course, say, Numerical Methods. Further, assume that you are working with a lecture manuscript OM (Original Manuscript) whose quality is not exactly the top one, and decide to write another manuscript BM (Better Manuscript) for yourself and your study-mates with more details and better proofs. You have private confirmation from study-mates that what you have done so far has a better quality.

Further, assume that OM is written in a language X ≠ English (e.g., X = German) and published by the university where you study. You write BM in English. Both you and the university decide to publish their manuscripts at some later time points on the global market. The university goes for a German publisher; you still have the choice whether (and where) to publish BM. Several publishers would be ready to publish BM in principle.

Let us also take it for granted that you do cite OM whenever you translate the original text fragments (say, when you reuse some definitions, theorem statements, examples, proofs, …). You also attribute the text structure to OM. I think (please correct me if I’m wrong) that this way you don’t commit any plagiarism. (See “What constitutes plagiarism when writing a textbook?” for more on the topic of plagiarism.)

Would copying the text structure, i.e., having the same or very similar table of contents up to translation from X into English, still be considered stealing of intellectual property according to

  1. the German law?

  2. the U.K. law?

  3. the U.S. law?

Do you violate any other laws by

  1. actually publishing BM?

  2. only making BM available from your web page?

References to any legal acts are welcome.
If you have only partial answers, please write them as comments only.

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