"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]


The idea of compiling a commonplace book--assembling quotations gathered from other people's writings--naturally invites questions about copyright infringement. In light of these legitimate questions, the following guidelines are established to protect this site, the intellectual integrity of its users, and the sources from which they draw their quotations:

  1. All quotations should be accurately and fully attributed to their original authors and to their original sources, so far as these can readily be found. Even in a magazine article, for instance, please make an effort to credit the author of the article, even though New Yorker might seem to suffice.
  2. The length of each quotation should fall within the boundaries of "fair use." For the purposes of this site, fair use is considered an extract of no more than several hundred words.
  3. No work-unless it is a short poem, for example-should be reproduced in its entirety. Commonplace books belong properly to the graceful fragment rather than the exhaustive whole.
  4. Commonplace books are not blogs, however close the resemblance may be. Please try to keep the distinction in mind if you're tempted to dip regularly into the first-person singular.
  5. Mycommonplacebook.org reserves the right to warn and--should two warnings not prove effective--remove any user who repeatedly (or wantonly, or flagrantly, etc) violates these guidelines.
  6. The spirit of the site is to encourage people to read books; it's not to violate their copyright or make them obsolete. As long as that spirit is kept in mind, these guidelines should be fairly easy to follow.
  7. Please send any questions, complaints, or comments to the administrator of this site.