I recently supplied This Answer, which quoted almost an entire article from NEC. Is there a problem (legal or otherwise) with doing this?

3 Answers 3


Found This Thread where a user actually emailed an NFPA representative to ask this very question, and here is the response.

An occasional use of a sentence or paragraph from the NEC(r) in a non-commercial setting would probably be considered a Fair Use under the copyright act. There is no precise limit concerning what constitutes Fair Use and what constitutes an infringement, but the small occasional use that you suggest appears to fall in the Fair Use category.

If this becomes a regular use of material for a commercial purpose, that may change the response.

I hope this is helpful.


An answer in the form of a graphic novel, courtesy of Code City:

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(Full set of images)

  • If this is true, why are code books so expensive?
    – Tester101
    Mar 21, 2012 at 16:30
  • The last time I bought NEC code books (2002) was wholesale, buying 200, our price was over $40 each, and this was the softbound. Notebooks and Hardcover was considerably more. I think its supply and demand. Can't compare these to Baldacci, Cussler or Martin.
    – lqlarry
    Mar 22, 2012 at 0:21
  • @Tester101, the somewhat high prices could be explained by the customer base for the official code books being libraries and government (most DIYers would buy annotated editions that provide additional crossreferences and explanations, or tutorial books that don't reproduce the full code). The bigger question is: if the Code City people are correct about the codes being public domain, why are there not dozens of ad-supported websites that reproduce the code texts? Perhaps the legal situation is more complicated, or perhaps the standards bodies are effective intimidators? Mar 22, 2012 at 1:15
  • In fact, a major code body does take action against ad supported code reproduction sites: nfpa.org/press-room/news-releases/2013/media-statement . There are two reasons (a) to protect revenue and (b) to protect the public from out-of-date code citations. We have a local public transit agency that imposes a strict licence on everything: all the conditions on use relate to showing only fresh information.
    – Bryce
    Mar 11, 2014 at 21:29
  • Screw books. The question is why isn't it online for free.
    – Mazura
    Jan 11, 2019 at 23:53

In the first instance having a link back to the original source is a must - assuming that the original content is available on the web.

In the second instance you have quoted a rather lot of information in the answer. This could be an issue regarding use of potentially copyright content.

It would be far better to summarise the information in your own words quoting one or two relevant sentences and explaining why things are the way they are. However, if the content you are quoting is not on the web this might not give people enough information to solve their problem.

I don't know what the answer is here. You have to be aware that Stack Exchange may be issued with a copyright violation notice (of some kind) and have to take the content down. The easiest way of doing this would be to delete the answer.

  • What do I do if the source is not on the web?
    – Tester101
    Mar 21, 2012 at 13:30
  • @Tester101 - I'll update.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Mar 21, 2012 at 13:36
  • Found this thread.
    – Tester101
    Mar 21, 2012 at 14:06
  • 1
    @Tester101 - useful link. Post it as an answer (quoting the relevant section!) so we can have an accepted answer on this question.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Mar 21, 2012 at 14:08

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