|Posted: November 1, 2003, 8:27 pm - IP Logged|
Stop freaking out! He cannot sue you.
First of all, it was an unintentional act, so he cannot prove intent which is necessary for punitive damages.
Second of all, whether his system is the basis for your spreadsheet or not aside, his original system does not involve computer technology or a spreadsheet, so you could argue that you altered it to the extent that what you created is different--something new and yours alone.
Third, you were distributed in freely for educational purposes (ok so maybe I am stretching a bit), but free distribution for educational purposes is exempt from most copyright laws.
Finally, copyrights aren't forever. After a period of time a copyright becomes part of the public domain. It depends on how long ago the author wrote the book, and also if he renewed his copyright, but they can't do that indefinitely.
I think as long as you cite his book as a source (if indeed it is) on your spreadsheet, you can distribute it all you want as long as you don't charge for it. You could include the statement "Based on original ideas developed by:______." You are allowed to quote a book in your own work as long as you list the original source material without being accused of Plagiarism.
This situation also proves the old expression, that no good deed goes unpunished.
"It is an old maxim of mine, that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. "
"I presume nothing. I imagine nothing. Data! Data! Data! I can't make bricks without clay. "
Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four