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profen4
05-14-2009, 07:09 PM
Recently there was some discussion regarding accessing pirated books online and I wanted to start this thread because I thought it was an interesting issue.

Before I begin, let me say that I want authors to get everything they deserve for their hard work! I know what it’s like to pour oneself into a project in hopes that it will one day translate into a viable career choice. Please don’t cyber-stab me or anything.

What’s the difference between accessing books for free on the internet and going to the public library and accessing the same book for free? Furthermore, if I wanted to photocopy an entire book and give it to a friend, I could do that—it is not illegal. In fact, libraries have photocopiers in their buildings so that you can make copies of whatever you want. It is illegal if you make a profit on the copied material (but like most file-share sites, there is no cost involved.)

I’m just curious about what others think on this issue.

As a side note: many new artists (musical) have said that they experienced increased recognition and increased sales due to mass downloading. Arguably, an author’s notoriety will increase for their second or third books if the first one experiences mass recognition (even if that recognition is not translated in physical sales).

Aggy B.
05-14-2009, 07:21 PM
Furthermore, if I wanted to photocopy an entire book and give it to a friend, I could do that—it is not illegal.

Actually, I think that is illegal. That's why there are signs up warning against photocopying copyrighted material. (Personal use is a bit of a grey area. Redistribution, even if you're doing it for free, is not.)

As far as reading it at the library (or checking it out to read) versus downloading a copy online, the library has paid for the book.

I don't know if books are different, but I know that when a library (or college) purchases a video tape, they pay to be able to allow public access to the video. Significantly more, if I remember correctly.

Copyright is just that: the right to copy. Reading a book is not the same as making a new copy. Downloading a version online (or producing a version online without permission for others to read) is the same as making a new copy and therefore illegal.

At least, this is my understanding. (I hate copyright issues. It makes my head hurt.) Other people probably can provide more detailed explanations.

Eric San Juan
05-14-2009, 07:25 PM
Furthermore, if I wanted to photocopy an entire book and give it to a friend, I could do that—it is not illegal.
Yes, this is illegal. You could photocopy a book you already own and have that copy personal use, but once you give that copy to another person you are distributing an illegal copy of the book. Said distribution is illegal. Your copy is legal as long as it is yours; the moment you give it to someone else, the copy ceases to be legal.

In fact, libraries have photocopiers in their buildings so that you can make copies of whatever you want.
Libraries are covered for this use. Fair use covers some degree of copying, if done for specific purposes (research, reporting, education, etc.). Photocopying an entire book would not fall under fair use.

For more information on Fair Use, see [url=http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html]this page[/uyrl] at the U.S. Copyright Office.

Fair Use can sometimes be a bit nebulous, but one thing is very clear: Copying an entire book would never fall under fair use. Copying a few pages? Possibly. Not always, but often enough.

It is illegal if you make a profit on the copied material (but like most file-share sites, there is no cost involved.)
Distributing copies of copyrighted material is illegal even if no profit is being made.

Just wanted to clarify some inaccuracies here. It's an interesting topic to discuss, but best to clear away the misconceptions first.

Maryn
05-14-2009, 07:32 PM
...if I wanted to photocopy an entire book and give it to a friend, I could do that—it is not illegal.Incorrect. A copyright literally bestows the right to make copies.

But that's a side point of what might prove an interesting discussion. A library, of course, pays for its book, often in an especially durable, and therefore more expensive, binding. Readers who enjoy the library book may become buyers of the author's other work, or maybe even purchase the one they read, if they loved it.

Authors have, of course, attempted to up their readership by giving away their work. I was in my teens, eons ago, when I first say this in print--shopping newspapers and underground papers with full-page (affordable) ads featuring the beginning of a longer work ending on a cliffhanger, with instructions for purchasing the whole. Now, of course, it's short stories and entire novels online at display sites, free for the taking.

Trouble is, Cory Doctorow and Stephen King aside, most of the work given away online is not as good at what's being bought by legitimate publishers. (Yes, of course there are exceptions; let's not derail by discussing that here.) I've given away short stories for online reading; now I'm a better writer and I sell them, or try to.

I posit that those who give away their writing most often are those who could not earn from its sale anyway.

Maryn, listening to the wind literally howl around the corner of the house

profen4
05-14-2009, 07:44 PM
Okay, so I’m from Canada – so I don’t know if the laws are that different (though I know they vary from country to country) but our supreme court said that downloading music is not illegal because it is no different from photocopying a book in a library. Uploading is illegal, so I see what you mean about distribution—I meant “loan your photocopied book to a friend” when i said "give" but I guess distribution is distribution so loan or give shouldn’t make a difference (except that you can give or loan a book to a friend without violating copyright laws…cant you?)

There are no signs warning of copyright laws at library photocopiers where I’m from. Most people would not use a photocopier to copy a book because at .25 a copy it will cost you more than the 12.00 that the new book prob. costs.

CaroGirl
05-14-2009, 07:59 PM
Okay, so I’m from Canada – so I don’t know if the laws are that different (though I know they vary from country to country) but our supreme court said that downloading music is not illegal because it is no different from photocopying a book in a library. Uploading is illegal, so I see what you mean about distribution—I meant “loan your photocopied book to a friend” when i said "give" but I guess distribution is distribution so loan or give shouldn’t make a difference (except that you can give or loan a book to a friend without violating copyright laws…cant you?)

There are no signs warning of copyright laws at library photocopiers where I’m from. Most people would not use a photocopier to copy a book because at .25 a copy it will cost you more than the 12.00 that the new book prob. costs.
Well, I'm in Canada and I don't think it's legal here to make a copy of a whole book. What the above Americans said sounds like closer to reality than your OP about what copyright means and what's legal and what isn't. Where did you read the tidbit about downloading music and photocopying books not being illegal? Was it a trustworthy site? I'd Google sites that have information about real Canadian copyright laws, if I were you.

Try these:

http://www.cb-cda.gc.ca/info/act-e.html

http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/legislation/canadian_law/federal/copyright_act/cdn_copyright_ov.cfm

http://copyrightlaws.com/

profen4
05-14-2009, 08:09 PM
The issue has been the topic of several of my university classes --- a quick google search finds this article:

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1027_3-5182641.html

Which isn’t the one that had the quote from the supreme court justice, but none the less, talks about the legality of file-sharing in Canada. I know it was a controversial decision and is currently under review, but as yet the decision has not been changed yet as far as i know.

So then is it illigal to buy a book, read it, and give it to a friend?

CaroGirl
05-14-2009, 08:12 PM
So then is it illigal to buy a book, read it, and give it to a friend?
I shouldn't think so. I lend books to friends all the time. Sometimes I get them back, sometimes I don't. Not my fault if my friends are deadbeats.

profen4
05-14-2009, 08:16 PM
LOL --- I may be just such a deadbeat. My library is filled with books that friends have given me.

Personally, I would never want to read a whole book electronically, but I would download one to see if it’s worth buying or borrowing from the library.

Eric San Juan
05-14-2009, 08:16 PM
So then is it illigal to buy a book, read it, and give it to a friend?
No, but it's hardly a useful comparison when the issue at hand is copying something, hence copyright. You may give away your copyrighted possessions. You may not give away copies of your copyrighted possessions.

Libraries and the sale of used copies have already been debated at length -- music, books, film, all industries at one point or another have gone after used sales -- and in country after country the courts agree that the practice is legal.

So that's really not at issue, either.

misa101
05-14-2009, 08:37 PM
A

As far as reading it at the library (or checking it out to read) versus downloading a copy online, the library has paid for the book.

I don't know if books are different, but I know that when a library (or college) purchases a video tape, they pay to be able to allow public access to the video. Significantly more, if I remember correctly.



But the library does not always pay for books. Many are donated.

BlueLucario
05-14-2009, 08:42 PM
I know a lot of students at school were looking for textbooks to download online because many can't afford a $300 book. And the book prices were outrageous. Now students are petitioning to legalize book downloads.

mercs
05-15-2009, 12:14 AM
I don't know what the laws are internationally, but I know in the UK libraries not only buy the books, but also pay on a small fee to the author based upon the amount of times the book is hired. We're not talking a fortune, I think it's actually 1p per time or something symbolic, but the libraries do indeed do more than their obligation to the author in terms of monies...

Cyia
05-15-2009, 12:37 AM
Okay, so I’m from Canada – so I don’t know if the laws are that different (though I know they vary from country to country) but our supreme court said that downloading music is not illegal because it is no different from photocopying a book in a library. Uploading is illegal, so I see what you mean about distribution—I meant “loan your photocopied book to a friend” when i said "give" but I guess distribution is distribution so loan or give shouldn’t make a difference (except that you can give or loan a book to a friend without violating copyright laws…cant you?)

There are no signs warning of copyright laws at library photocopiers where I’m from. Most people would not use a photocopier to copy a book because at .25 a copy it will cost you more than the 12.00 that the new book prob. costs.
Copyright is protected by international law. It doesn't matter where you are, the copyright on a book is still in effect so long as that book is within the lifespan+70 years of the author.

Libraries don't have to put signs up warning of copyright laws. The copyright is listed in the book itself. By checking out a book with a library card, you've agreed to certain terms of use - one of those includes not violating copyright, which puts the responsibility off the library and on you.


*Next part = total conjecture on the part of someone with no law degree*
Saying that it's illegal to upload (as opposed to download) files is a way of grandfathering in the ones already uploaded without having to go through all of the people who were downloading things before it was ruled on. After Napster's file sharing for free was ruled against, some of the copyright owners tried to prosecute people with more than a certain number of downloads, but it was a pain. The "no uploading" variation would leave them open to prosecuting people who add new material without having to obsess over the rest.

And no, it's not illegal to give a book away once you're done with it. You bought that one copy and what you do with that one copy is totally up to you so long as there are no other copies made - that's why you can donate books to a library or resell them at used book stores.

profen4
05-15-2009, 12:44 AM
If you can purchase an electronic version of a book—what’s the difference between emailing that book to a friend, and loaning your friend a good book that’s printed? Technically you would be making a copy, but how else can you share an electronic version of something you legally acquire?

Perhaps the laws are behind the times.

Personally, I think that most people who download a book online are doing so simply to check it out before they decide to purchase it or borrow it from a library (the same person might be found reading the first bit of a book in the aisles of bookstores).

Kitty Pryde
05-15-2009, 01:24 AM
If you can purchase an electronic version of a book—what’s the difference between emailing that book to a friend, and loaning your friend a good book that’s printed? Technically you would be making a copy, but how else can you share an electronic version of something you legally acquire?

Perhaps the laws are behind the times.

Personally, I think that most people who download a book online are doing so simply to check it out before they decide to purchase it or borrow it from a library (the same person might be found reading the first bit of a book in the aisles of bookstores).

If you send your friend your only electronic copy, that's legal. If you send a SECOND copy to your friend, that's illegal. If you let 1000 people download it on bittorrent, that's also illegal.

I highly doubt people downloaded pirated copies of books are doing it to see if they want to buy it or not.

I think you're confusing what's GOOD (for the writer, for the reader) and what's LEGAL. For Cory Doctorow, it's been very very good to let people download his books legally. It might be that it's good for random Joe Midlist Author to offer his books for free download, and if so, good for him. It MAY even be that other people pirating Joe Midlist's books online is good for his sales. But the goodness of it has nothing to do with the legalness of it.

Baen offers lots of free books online (and they offer their whole library free online for people who are blind or otherwise disabled and can't use print books). Random House is offering Book 1 of a bunch of good SF/F series for free download online (at http://www.suvudu.com/freelibrary/ ), in the hopes that people will read them then go buy the sequels. Neither company has gone out of business as a result. The business side of things is for sure behind the technology side of things, but we're seeing lots of new stuff in the marketplace (like Kindle) so eventually I suspect things will reach a reasonable equilibrium.

blacbird
05-15-2009, 01:28 AM
Copyright is protected by international law. It doesn't matter where you are, the copyright on a book is still in effect so long as that book is within the lifespan+70 years of the author.

Actually, copyright laws vary some from country to country. Canadian statutes are not the same as U.S. statutes, and EU statutes differ as well. The most recent changes in U.S. laws (Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998) work toward bringing U.S. provisions into accordance with those of the EU, but owing to "grandfather" accommodations in U.S. law, that synchronization won't happen for some years yet.

caw

nevada
05-15-2009, 02:15 AM
Not only do libraries pay fees in addition to purchase price, but schools pay a yearly sum to offset the amount of photocopying they do.

Usually you can photocopy a chart or pattern in craft book if it's for your own use. You may not however, photocopy the chart thirty times and hand it out to your friends. You're not even allowed to sell what you made following the pattern. You can knit the sweater and give it to a friend, but you can't sell it at a craft fair. Obviously that's gonna be hard to police, but it is illegal.

Toothpaste
05-15-2009, 02:21 AM
Can't quote any law or anything, but at the reference library in Toronto Canada, there are signs by every photocopier clearly stating you are not allowed to copy more than 10% of the work. Don't think that's just them being mean . . .

Little Bird
05-15-2009, 02:54 AM
Even when I was doing research papers in college, I couldn't get copy stores to let me make copies (from art books, for example.) It was frustrating to have to use black-and-white copies from the library to show the painting from seventeenth century Japan that I was writing about. The laws are strict enough that I couldn't make copies of this uncopyrighted painting, because it was from a picture in a copyrighted book.

Also, if you have professional photos taken and try to make copies of them (old school photos to decorate tables at a wedding, a photo to go on a memorial service program) you can't do it through a copy center or professional printer.

If images are so strictly protected, I certainly hope my words will be.

Wayne K
05-15-2009, 04:33 AM
I Don't get why if you want the book that bad you won't just pay for it.

If you can't afford it wait till it comes out reduced or for free at the library.

What's the deal with sharing all this with your friends anyway? If they want it so bad let them buy it, borrow it or steal it themselves.

Yasaibatake
05-15-2009, 06:28 AM
Little Bird - so research papers aren't included under educational? I had thought that if you were using something for an educational purpose, you were more or less in the clear. I might have misguided one of my professors then...long story short, the bookstore never received our textbook. Seeing as I'm the only student in this particular class, my teacher copied the first 100 pages from her edition and gave them to me; we assumed that since it was for a university class and it wasn't the entire book, we were covered by the whole educational thing. I don't know if the States has the same 10% rule, but I really doubt the book is 1,000 pages long anyway.

I guess I stole my textbook...now I feel bad :(

Little Bird
05-15-2009, 06:41 AM
All I know is that Kinko's wouldn't let me make the copies. But that was sometime around 1996. As far as copying professional photos, a friend of mine just tried that for her mother's funeral, and was told she couldn't do it.

Cyia
05-15-2009, 07:23 AM
Little Bird - so research papers aren't included under educational? I had thought that if you were using something for an educational purpose, you were more or less in the clear. I might have misguided one of my professors then...long story short, the bookstore never received our textbook. Seeing as I'm the only student in this particular class, my teacher copied the first 100 pages from her edition and gave them to me; we assumed that since it was for a university class and it wasn't the entire book, we were covered by the whole educational thing. I don't know if the States has the same 10% rule, but I really doubt the book is 1,000 pages long anyway.

I guess I stole my textbook...now I feel bad :(


Not necessarily, it depends on the usage that comes with the book. My math teachers in high school put out their own math book (to raise money the district wouldn't give them) and one of the terms of sale was that the book was reproducible for learning materials. The purchaser could make as many copies as they wanted so long as they were used for classroom related activities.

(And even Wal-mart can be a stickler on photos. They didn't want to reproduce some pics from the late 40's - early 50's my mom tried to get done for her parents. The copies got made, but the cashier destroyed them.)

benbradley
05-15-2009, 07:24 AM
Okay, so I’m from Canada – so I don’t know if the laws are that different (though I know they vary from country to country) but our supreme court said that downloading music is not illegal because it is no different from photocopying a book in a library. Uploading is illegal, so I see what you mean about distribution—I meant “loan your photocopied book to a friend” when i said "give" but I guess distribution is distribution so loan or give shouldn’t make a difference (except that you can give or loan a book to a friend without violating copyright laws…cant you?)
Making a photocopy might in some instances technically be legal, but if you loan the original book, the photocopy has to go with it, else two people have copies that were originally sold (and the author was only paid for) as one copy.

As far as different countries, there's the Berne Convention, an international agreement on copyright between many or most Western nations, a common body of laws that all the signees agree to have in their copyright laws, and agree to respect these laws as far as works produced in other countries. There are differences in copyright laws, but there's a lot of commonality.

The issue has been the topic of several of my university classes --- a quick google search finds this article:

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1027_3-5182641.html

Which isn’t the one that had the quote from the supreme court justice, but none the less, talks about the legality of file-sharing in Canada. I know it was a controversial decision and is currently under review, but as yet the decision has not been changed yet as far as i know.
There are many legal decisions on copyright involving the Internet and the relative ease of electronic copying of digital files vs. the time it took to do photocopying or making tapes of sound recordings a couple decades ago. Technology has always been ahead of the law, though the recent acceleration of technology has made for a greater lag.


So then is it illigal to buy a book, read it, and give it to a friend?
No, there's only one physical copy in that case, the author's royalty was paid when the book was sold new at retail.

When you email a digital file to someone, it makes two physical files, one on your computer and one on the other person's computer. it's a COPYING process.

I recall the Borland "Turbo Pascal" software agreement that they summed up in the words "Treat it like a book" meaning you could actually have several copies of the program on different computers, as long as only one person was running it at a time.

If you can purchase an electronic version of a book—what’s the difference between emailing that book to a friend, and loaning your friend a good book that’s printed? Technically you would be making a copy, but how else can you share an electronic version of something you legally acquire?

Perhaps the laws are behind the times.
No, the "sharing" is making a copy of the file. Loaning the book does not make a copy.

I Don't get why if you want the book that bad you won't just pay for it.

If you can't afford it wait till it comes out reduced or for free at the library.

What's the deal with sharing all this with your friends anyway? If they want it so bad let them buy it, borrow it or steal it themselves.
It appears to be the younger generation who see information as "free."
Here's a legal argument taken to an extreme (there are hundreds of articles on "file sharing" and copyright law on Slashdot (just for one example), and you can see various opinions on what the laws "should be" in the comments):
http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/02/2030250

Little Bird - so research papers aren't included under educational? I had thought that if you were using something for an educational purpose, you were more or less in the clear.
Not neccesarily. Fair Use under US Copyright law (according to how I read it in copyright.gov) is whatever a judge rules it to be. Some things are always fair use, such as a reviewer quoting a paragraph of a book, some things are never fair use such as making copies of a book to sell, but there's a lot of gray area in between. I suppose there's more latitude for educational use, but it still doesn't guarantee anything.

Eric San Juan
05-15-2009, 08:40 AM
All I know is that Kinko's wouldn't let me make the copies. But that was sometime around 1996. As far as copying professional photos, a friend of mine just tried that for her mother's funeral, and was told she couldn't do it.
It's more of a Kinko's issue than a legal issue. They have a firm, firm policy on what they'll copy, which often extends to refusing to copy works that are perfectly legal to duplicate, i.e. works in the public domain. Can't budge them on it. It's a CYA thing. Better to err on the side of caution than leave it up to the employee's judgment, I guess.