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The material in question has little monitary value, so I don't really want to waste alot of resources on it.
Would the Copyright Office reject an application due to a copyright violation?
Maybe if you don't tell them, they won't find out. ;)
Since you use material from another source, are considering registering a copyright for it, and are asking questions such as this, your best bet is to run right down to an IP attorney and get the straight scoop. There really isn't anyway that anybody here is going to be able to advise you.
For background before seeing an attorney you might want to read through as much as you can at www.copyright.gov. The "Copyright Basics" and faqs answer many questions in laypeople's terms (almost), and it should prepare you for some of the questions an attorney will be asking.
The way I should have asked this is there someplace that I can submit some copy and find out if someone already wrote something like it.
...talking to a lawyer about my content that uses material from another source....I feel safe about what I have written....is there someplace that I can submit some copy and find out if someone already wrote something like it?
Which one is it? You wrote the content, and want to check (for some reason) whether anybody has ever written something similar on the same topic? Or somebody else wrote the content in "another source", and you're wondering if anybody is likely to catch your copying?
For the first, try Copyscape, TurnItIn, or some similar type of document-search service. For the second, yeah, talk to a lawyer.
Which one is it?
in a few words ...
it is absolutely positively, not even in one's most bizarre dreamstate, even remotely the same thing as seeking, and then heeding, competent legal advice.
Actually, it's not even the same as a fair amount of reasonably attentive self-study of the parameters of fair use.
Which one is it? You wrote the content...[o]r somebody else wrote the content...?
The answer is yes.
You created new and original content by copying somebody else's stuff...?
On what basis have you concluded that your distribution of copies of their content is "Fair Use"? A run-down of the Guidelines and how your use fits within each point might be instructive....
I never made copies of their content. Once I finish my stuff I will show the original authors my work and ask if I can use their material, if I feel that it won't be wasting their time.
Basically what I am trying to figure out is whether something like what I made already exists in print. It's not on the web as far as I can tell. If I was to give the copyright office or someone a copy of my work or a summary of it could they find simular works to see if I'm stepping on someone elses toes that I don't even know of. I could then take this new work to a lawyer and see if there is a problem.
Thanks to all for helping me to clarify what I need to know about this issue.