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AlwaysJuly
05-02-2011, 12:05 AM
I ran across a website recently where the author stated the following about the content in his pages:
As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPay Me $5 per printout or part thereof.This fascinated me, because I've never see anyone try to ban first-generation personal copies of public work, which I understand to be valid fair use. I expect the author doesn't have a leg to stand on with his copyright in the US, but since copyright is an interesting and sometimes tricky subject, I thought I'd see if I'm wrong. Can you really ban people from printing a page of your website out for their own use as a copyright violation?

I mean, if this were actually a reasonable application of copyright, wouldn't a lot of online 'zines use the same language to protect people from saving copies of stories or articles rather than returning to their site or purchasing some type of subscription?

Jamesaritchie
05-02-2011, 12:12 AM
Realistically, no, if it is only for their own use. But if your only intent is to read it, why not read it on the website?

But you might also think about this. Some writers have short stories on their websites, but if you want to actually have a copy for yourself, you're still supposed to buy it.

AlwaysJuly
05-02-2011, 12:34 AM
Realistically, no, if it is only for their own use. But if your only intent is to read it, why not read it on the website?
Well, the reader might want to save something to use it later or to have it as a reference when they're offline or just be able to read something in print versus on screen. I'll give an example from my own blog that I would consider fair use. I have a post about elevator pitches that some people found helpful. If someone wants to print out my blog post or save it to their hard drive for their own use later when they want to write an elevator pitch, I think that's absolutely fair use.

This doesn't matter to me personally, because I'm not going to save any part of this guy's website, but I do think he's misunderstood copyright law. And If I'm wrong on that, I really want to know - I find copyright law pretty interesting. I guess my undergrad Copyright, Patent & Trademark Law class is failing me on this one since I'm not sure. :p

veinglory
05-02-2011, 02:11 AM
I don't see what he has misunderstood. Allowing readers free online access does not automatically extend rights to use it in other formats. Withholding them might not be entirely realistic, but it seems entirely legal to me.

Jamesaritchie
05-02-2011, 03:04 AM
Well, the reader might want to save something to use it later or to have it as a reference when they're offline or just be able to read something in print versus on screen. I'll give an example from my own blog that I would consider fair use. I have a post about elevator pitches that some people found helpful. If someone wants to print out my blog post or save it to their hard drive for their own use later when they want to write an elevator pitch, I think that's absolutely fair use.

This doesn't matter to me personally, because I'm not going to save any part of this guy's website, but I do think he's misunderstood copyright law. And If I'm wrong on that, I really want to know - I find copyright law pretty interesting. I guess my undergrad Copyright, Patent & Trademark Law class is failing me on this one since I'm not sure. :p



Your own blog is your work, you own the copyright, and if you thinks it's perfectly fine for anyone to copy and use it, it's perfectly legal. But do you have the right to make this decision for someone else's copyrighted blog?

Now, what this guy is doing is unusual in that he wants to charge for use, but check the copyright on a great many blogs and websites, including highly professional websites and blogs, and you find the words Material on this Website may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, framed, transmitted, posted, distributed or modified in whole or in part, whether in text, graphical, audio, video or executable form, without the express written consent of the Site Owner.

The very first part of this is may not be copied. With many, many sites I visit, these words are written by the legal department. Just check the terms of use portion of any website, and you find something like this. If copying from the site as allowed, they'll say this, as well.

Just because I let you read my writing in no way means I'm giving you permission to copy it, even for your own personal use.

Think about print for a moment. Suppose I hand you a copy of my latest novel and say "would you like to borrow this and read it? But I do need this copy back in two weeks."

You say, "I'd like to, but I'm kind of busy, and I'm not sure I can read it in two weeks. I think I'll take it down to the local printer and have him make me a copy for my own personal use. That way I can keep it longer, and take my time reading it."

Even if it's an unpublished manuscript, you do not have the right to make a copy unless I say you can.

And with very specific and narrow limitations, fair use never allows all of anything to be copied.

Of course, why should anyone copy and save the actual work on a website when they can simply save a link to that work?

Medievalist
05-02-2011, 03:10 AM
Every single page you visit is copied in its entirety to your Web browser's cache.

IceCreamEmpress
05-02-2011, 03:22 AM
Can you really ban people from printing a page of your website out for their own use as a copyright violation?

No. There is no proviso in any US copyright law against that.

AlwaysJuly
05-02-2011, 03:34 AM
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Your own blog is your work, you own the copyright, and if you thinks it's perfectly fine for anyone to copy and use it, it's perfectly legal. But do you have the right to make this decision for someone else's copyrighted blog?
I was giving an example of what I believed to be fair use UNDER THE LAW. I'm not trying to make a decision about what someone else should allow or shouldn't allow; just trying to figure out what the law is regarding printing from a website.

Jamesaritchie
05-02-2011, 03:51 AM
No. There is no proviso in any US copyright law against that.

To the contrary, there is. You can do it only because there's no chance in hell of getting caught, but a page post on a website is exactly the same under U.S. law as a short story printed on paper, and you aren't supposed to copy it, either.

Corpprate websites do not place warnings on websites stating nothing may be copied because doing so is perfectly legal.

Jamesaritchie
05-02-2011, 03:53 AM
I was giving an example of what I believed to be fair use UNDER THE LAW. I'm not trying to make a decision about what someone else should allow or shouldn't allow; just trying to figure out what the law is regarding printing from a website.

I know you weren't, but you can't use your own copyrighted material as an example because anything you choose to do with it is perfectly legal. If you say it's legal for your own work, then it's legal.

AlwaysJuly
05-02-2011, 04:11 AM
I know you weren't, but you can't use your own copyrighted material as an example because anything you choose to do with it is perfectly legal. If you say it's legal for your own work, then it's legal.Oh, okay. Sorry I misunderstood you, and thanks for your patient responses.

I don't state it's OK on my blog (or anywhere), so if a personal copy isn't allowable under law, it's still not technically legal to take something from my website. I just wouldn't care. I'm more interested in where the limits are on our rights when copyrighting our own work. After all, we can't determine what the user's rights to a work are without limit; that's already set by law.

I was able to find out that in Canada, printing a copy for personal use is specifically allowed, but all I can find for the U.S. is the educational printing allowance. It drives me a little nuts I can't find a simple answer on the US copyrighting website.

AlwaysJuly
05-02-2011, 04:12 AM
No. There is no proviso in any US copyright law against that.
That's what I think too, but I guess it depends on whether printing a copy counts as "reproducing"?

cameron_chapman
05-02-2011, 04:38 AM
To the contrary, there is. You can do it only because there's no chance in hell of getting caught, but a page post on a website is exactly the same under U.S. law as a short story printed on paper, and you aren't supposed to copy it, either.

Corpprate websites do not place warnings on websites stating nothing may be copied because doing so is perfectly legal.

Except generally you are allowed to make a personal back-up copy of copyrighted works you've legally accessed. If your only purpose in printing out the work (or saving it to your hard drive) was to make sure you could access it later in case the site was no longer available, then that would probably fall under fair use. Of course, because the fair use doctrines in US copyright law are relatively vague in some areas, who knows how a judge would actually rule if it ever came down to it.

IceCreamEmpress
05-03-2011, 03:04 AM
To the contrary, there is. You can do it only because there's no chance in hell of getting caught, but a page post on a website is exactly the same under U.S. law as a short story printed on paper, and you aren't supposed to copy it, either.

No, it isn't, James, and there is tons of precedent to back this up. Neither of us is an attorney, but I have been a university administrator in charge of copyright policies who has commissioned detailed briefs from IP attorneys and I remember this very distinctly.

Printing a screen image for personal use is not "reproduction" under US copyright law, any more than making a photocopy of a copyrighted journal article for one's own personal use is "reproduction"--the key precedent here is Williams and Wilkins v. United States, 1974. (http://fairuse.stanford.edu/primary_materials/cases/c487F2d1345.html)

Basic Books v. Kinko's, 1991, is not relevant where a single copy is made for personal use, as discussed in detail here (http://www.librarycopyright.net/wiki/index.php?title=Basic_Books_Incorporated_v._Kinko% 27s_Graphics_Corp.).

Whoops, where is my brain today? In the cough syrup, I guess. I forgot to link to the relevant sections (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html) (Title 17 USC 1:107-108) of the copyright code, which was amended in 1976 to include specific language inspired by Williams and Wilkins v. United States.