View Full Version : A Question on ethics


DeusExMe
07-09-2007, 12:45 PM
Forgive me if this has already been discussed at length. I am quite recent to these forums and my first e-book device, the Sony Portable Reader has not even arrived at my house yet.

Anyhow....

Supposing a person such as myself made an honest effort to live his life humbly before the God he serves, trying to do the right thing. This person would be adverse to downloading files of copyright material which he had not purchased. However, suppose the person owned a physical copy of a book and desired the book in Electronic format. In that case, is it ethical for the person to download the electronic text without purchasing it?

Also...

In preparing for my Reader to arrive I have perused the selection of books which many of you have done such wonderfully hard work in making available on this site. I noticed that some (i.e. David Copperfield, Pride and Prejudice, etc...) are illustrated. Now I know little about copyright law...only that the book must be at least 95 years old or published before 1920something to be Public Domain. So do illustrations (which presumably came after the text of the work itself) negate the copyright free status of the book? I desire to download many of these books but I need to know more about how the whole system works legally. Please help.

JSWolf
07-09-2007, 12:55 PM
Most of the books here have come from Project Gutenberg. And they do take grate pains to make sure the copyright is no longer valid. So I do trust that a book on PG is ok to download.

HarryT
07-09-2007, 01:07 PM
Supposing a person such as myself made an honest effort to live his life humbly before the God he serves, trying to do the right thing. This person would be adverse to downloading files of copyright material which he had not purchased. However, suppose the person owned a physical copy of a book and desired the book in Electronic format. In that case, is it ethical for the person to download the electronic text without purchasing it?

That is for you to decide. It's certainly illegal. Whether or not it's unethical is a question that only you can answer. My personal view - and I'm certainly not condoning piracy - is that where an eBook is available commercially, one should purchase it. In cases where no commercial eBook is available, but one has purchased a paper copy of the book, it's down to the moral values of the individual to decide whether any "harm" is done to anyone by downloading that eBook, but don't kid yourself that it's legal - it ain't.

In preparing for my Reader to arrive I have perused the selection of books which many of you have done such wonderfully hard work in making available on this site. I noticed that some (i.e. David Copperfield, Pride and Prejudice, etc...) are illustrated. Now I know little about copyright law...only that the book must be at least 95 years old or published before 1920something to be Public Domain. So do illustrations (which presumably came after the text of the work itself) negate the copyright free status of the book?

In the case of the Dickens, the illustrations are original (all except two of Dickens' books were originally published with illustrations) and hence contemporary with the text. In the case of the Austen, the illustrations are not contemporary with the text but are from later out-of-copyright 19th century editions.

All the books in the "Downloads" section of this site are out of copyright SOMEWHERE in the world. One can easily check (from the date of death of the author and the date of publication of the book) whether they are in the public domain for you personally, should you be concerned. Certainly, however, the Dickens and the Austen are out of copyright for everybody.

DeusExMe
07-09-2007, 02:37 PM
Thank you so much for your replies. I am attempting to become educated on this subject matter. Please do not become impatient with me if all of this is second nature to your understanding.

From the Wikipedia (bold, mine): Copyrights are more complex than patents; generally, in current law, the copyright in a published work expires in all countries when any of the following conditions are satisfied (except Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Samoa, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, on all these countries are fair use):[2]

* The work was created and first published before January 1, 1923, or at least 95 years before January 1 of the current year, whichever is later;
* The last surviving author died at least 70 years before January 1 of the current year;
* No Berne Convention signatory has passed a perpetual copyright on the work; and
* Neither the United States nor the European Union has passed a copyright term extension since these conditions were last updated. (This must be a condition because the exact numbers in the other conditions depend on the state of the law at any given moment.)

Does this mean that a book published in 1930 is no longer under copyright if its author died in 1932? (These year markers are only examples and not representative of any actual book).

kacir
07-09-2007, 03:55 PM
However, suppose the person owned a physical copy of a book and desired the book in Electronic format. In that case, is it ethical for the person to download the electronic text without purchasing it?


Well ...
When I was a little kid parents, teachers and everybody else has been explaining to me how appropriate, befitting, chaste, correct, decorous, ethical, fitting, good, honest, honorable, immaculate, mannerly, moral, nice, noble, proper, pure, right, seemly, suitable, virtuous and worthy it is to go to the library and borrow (AND read!) a book is.

It is so confusing ...
First they teach you that borrowing a book from a friend or a library is the most virtuous thing ...
... and then you find out that if you use internet to "borrow" a book you are a person that commits robery and/or murder on open sea (pirate).

Please remember that in most jurisdictions it is not illegal to download a copyrighted book. Uploading (or sharing) is illegal.

MacBeezle
07-09-2007, 04:03 PM
his life humbly before the God he serves,

... I do not serve any god.... :smash:

NatCh
07-09-2007, 04:27 PM
... which has no bearing on DeusExMe's service to his .... :shrug:

batpuppy
07-09-2007, 04:51 PM
Yeah the same question comes up when you have an DRM ebook in another format that you want to read on the reader.

nekokami
07-09-2007, 06:07 PM
Yeah the same question comes up when you have an DRM ebook in another format that you want to read on the reader.
Well... from an ethics point of view, that might not be exactly the same question.

In one circumstance, there might be a book for which a legal ebook version does not exist. It's an interesting ethical question of who is harmed by downloading an unauthorized ebook version of such a book, especially when one has already supported the author (and publisher!) by buying a copy. As Harry points out, it's probably not legal (I think it's not cut-and-dried if you own a physical copy, at least in the US, but it might be more clear in some countries). In particular, when the book is out of print, it's hard to see who is being harmed by this activity.

Let's say that in another circumstance, the ebook version does exist. Then, even if one has already bought the paper version, one might want to encourage publishers in their conversion of their existing catalogs to ebook versions by paying for an authorized ebook edition. After all, making nicely formatted ebooks does take work. However, if one has already done this by buying a DRM version which one now wishes to read on another format or device, I think that is a different ethical issue than trying to support the general conversion of books to digital format. (One might also want to support publisher's claims by buying multiple DRM'd copies in different formats as needed, but that is a different motive than simply wanting to support digital conversions.)

Another situation is this: suppose one has a physical copy of a book, but bought it used. Do the ethics of downloading an unauthorized digital copy change in this case? The purchase of a used book has not helped the author or publisher directly. But the new owner is holding a token copy of the work, and the person who did originally buy the book no longer has it, so the original purchaser did pay the publisher, author, et. al. for this copy (unless it's a stripped copy).

Finally, suppose one has bought a book (lets say, for talking purposes, bought it new). The purchaser downloads a digital copy, then gives the original book to a local library. What happens with the ethics of the situation then?

I don't know the answers, but I think this is a more complicated area than the simple answer of "it's illegal" generally provides.

NatCh
07-09-2007, 06:50 PM
Heh. And we haven't even touched on the ethics involved in simply breaking the law (even though it may be a stupid law).

I took one of those 'values' tests in a career exploration class about 16 years ago (ulp! where does the time go?),. and one of the questions it kept asking in several different ways was: which is more important, rules or ethics, laws or morals?

I always chose the etics/morals to be more important than the rules/laws, because to my thinking, it's primarily a person's ethical/moral standards that determine whether they care about rules and laws -- beyond the 'getting caught' stage, anyway, nobody wants to get caught. :smug2:

RWood
07-09-2007, 06:55 PM
I remember discussions like this back when cassettes came into wide use. Was it ok to record your albums on cassettes and then play cassettes in your car? (Yes, there were 45 rpm changers for the car for a brief time.)

John Lennon came out and said that you should tape your albums and listen to the tape. When it wore out, make another copy. This whole time the record companies were also selling cassette tapes of the same albums.

When CDs came along they wanted everyone to buy new versions of the same music. Many people made cassette copies of the CDs and played the cassettes in their car.

I have no problem with any of the above. I have thousands of albums and CDs in the basement to prove it. I have also converted the entire collection to electronic form and built my own music server. (Version 2 was just completed recently.)

In the US I believe that if I own the book it would be alright to have an electronic copy under the fair use provision. I do not seek out ebooks except at MobileRead, Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks, and the multiple Black Mask sites.

volwrath
07-09-2007, 07:11 PM
A similiar dillema is Do you support Sony and the PRS 500 and buy BBeb DRM'ed books, or do you buy another popular DRMed ebook format that is susceptible to being unlocked?

Azayzel
07-09-2007, 07:29 PM
Ethical discussions are always quite varied and interesting to read; but you can sum it up as simple as this: Ethics are defined by the societal customs and mores in which they are followed.

In my opinion, you can either chose to obey the ethics provided by those around you and your upbringing or follow your own moral compass based on what you feel your conscious can stand. While it's easy to argue either side; i.e., people can come up with reasons not to do something as well as reasons why they should, ultimately it is up to you.

Now from a legal standpoint... that's another matter and while a lot of it is black-and-white, there are many grey areas depending upon your pursuits.

DeusExMe
07-09-2007, 07:31 PM
It is indeed a deep issue. I've thought through some of these issues and reached as many confusions as I have conclusion.

A similiar dillema is Do you support Sony and the PRS 500 and buy BBeb DRM'ed books, or do you buy another popular DRMed ebook format that is susceptible to being unlocked?

In my estimation, if I buy the intellectual property "Ender's Game" (as an example) from the Microsoft Reader store (continuing the example, or if Microsoft has a promotion and gives the thing to me for that matter) I now have the right to enjoy my purchase in any manner I see fit. Certainly I can purchase a Microsoft Reader if I so desire and read it that way. However, to take actions with my own personal file, which is legally mine, which makes that file readable on my Sony Reader, seems well within my rights. I am not certain if the U.S. law governing such things would back me up, but I am fairly certain that it is the right thing.

volwrath
07-09-2007, 08:02 PM
In my estimation, if I buy the intellectual property "Ender's Game" (as an example) from the Microsoft Reader store (continuing the example, or if Microsoft has a promotion and gives the thing to me for that matter) I now have the right to enjoy my purchase in any manner I see fit. Certainly I can purchase a Microsoft Reader if I so desire and read it that way. However, to take actions with my own personal file, which is legally mine, which makes that file readable on my Sony Reader, seems well within my rights.

I agree. Actually the point I raised was not truly an ethical one. basically it was, do you buy it from Sony in BBeB or in .lit format. If one buys all their ebooks from Sony as opposed to .lit, it enhances the success of the Sony Reader division, which may cause them to market more, as well as to support the reader more.

Nate the great
07-09-2007, 08:06 PM
It is indeed a deep issue. I've thought through some of these issues and reached as many confusions as I have conclusion.



In my estimation, if I buy the intellectual property "Ender's Game" (as an example) from the Microsoft Reader store (continuing the example, or if Microsoft has a promotion and gives the thing to me for that matter) I now have the right to enjoy my purchase in any manner I see fit. Certainly I can purchase a Microsoft Reader if I so desire and read it that way. However, to take actions with my own personal file, which is legally mine, which makes that file readable on my Sony Reader, seems well within my rights. I am not certain if the U.S. law governing such things would back me up, but I am fairly certain that it is the right thing.

Actually, it's not legal in the US. A LRF ebook made from a LIT is a derivative work. Unless you have been granted the right to make it, it's not legal.

Of course, if you never tell anyone, Who Cares?

RWood
07-09-2007, 09:39 PM
Actually, it's not legal in the US. A LRF ebook made from a LIT is a derivative work. Unless you have been granted the right to make it, it's not legal.

Of course, if you never tell anyone, Who Cares?
It is a derivative work if you sell it. In the same line as those who sample other's music, alter it in some way, and then publish it in CDs or albums for sale. Here we are talking about fair use for one's on benefit.

Nate the great
07-09-2007, 09:44 PM
It is a derivative work if you sell it. In the same line as those who sample other's music, alter it in some way, and then publish it in CDs or albums for sale. Here we are talking about fair use for one's on benefit.

I just finished an ethics and law class in May as part of my BS Computer Science. You're wrong. It's a derivative work to change from one form to another. The commercial aspect is a separate part of copyright law.

Again, i don't really care. It doesn't really matter.

NatCh
07-09-2007, 09:51 PM
It may be a difference between practical and legal definitions -- we all know how tightly bound together those two things are. :grin:

nekokami
07-09-2007, 09:53 PM
It seems to me that if you were to scan a book yourself so you could read it online, without planning to distribute it, it would be equivalent to making cassette tapes from a vinyl LP or CD to play in your car, and not that far off from time-shift video taping (which the US Supreme Court explicitly ruled as legal). Does anyone know about the legality of cassette tape conversion for personal use, in any country?

pwalker8
07-09-2007, 10:34 PM
As with many things, what is legal depends on who you ask and when. Disney's VP has said that he considers it illegal to record a program and not watch the commercials. Few would agree with that assessment. The legality of changing the formats of an e-book hasn't been determined by the courts yet, although the most recent cases have said that as long as you do it for your personal use, it's considered fair use under copyright laws (that's where I think a previous poster is getting confused. People who get nail for derivative works get nailed for using them for commercial ventures such as remixing songs) . What is illegal is to defeat the DRM of that e-book when you change the format.

From a practical point of view, as long as you do not try to sale a copy or brag about it, I doubt if anyone will come after you.

From an ethical point of view, you could make the argument that as long as you own a hard copy of a book, then it's not unethical to get a computer copy of that same book, be it by scanning it yourself or downloading from the various irc or newgroups that specialize in such things, especially if the computer copy is not otherwise available. (just watch out for virus and the like). Some lawyers and authors might disagree with that, though I can quote others who think it's perfectly alright. Of course, some authors think it unethical to borrow a book from a library (and no, I'm not making that up) though I know of none who argue that it's illegal.

However, I would said that as a practical point, the more copies that a writer sales, the more likely he or she is to continue writing. I have been known to buy hard back and ebook copies of books that I like, just for that reason. Over the years, I've purchased roughly 600 ebooks for that reason. I've had too many authors that I like who give up writing not to try to support them to the best of my ability. I'm a very selfish guy in that respect, you know. <grin>

MacBeezle
07-10-2007, 09:07 AM
... which has no bearing on DeusExMe's service to his .... :shrug:


But if that's his only problem he has a very unspectacular life^^

DeusExMe
07-10-2007, 09:48 AM
Does anyone know where I can purchase C.S. Lewis e-books which are naturally compatible with the PRS 500? (I realize this is slightly off topic). I've hardly been able to locate them at all...with the exception of a single book of poetry which is in the Public Domain.

Thank you all so much for helping me think through these issues and begin to gain a bit more clarity.

NatCh
07-10-2007, 09:55 AM
But if that's his only problem he has a very sad life^^There are those who would reply that having nothing higher than one's own whims to serve sounds like a pretty futile way to live.

However, if they made such an observation I would point out to them, as I am ponting out now, that this is not the place for such discussions.

The subject is totally off the entire range of topics that MobileRead exists to explore (not to mention the topic of this thread), and it's extremely likely to cause strife, without any likelihood of producing anything worthwhile.

We've worked very hard to create a community where ideas can be exchanged and explored respectfully amongst the members, without fear of the kind of rancor that's likely to come from such discussions, and we tend to be pretty protective of that sense of community, and goodwill.



So, I guess then that the real question is, what do you think about the ethics of using/downloading/making electronic copies of books that you own or don't own, from the perspective of your ethical and moral world view, MacBeezle?

Personally, while I believe very strongly in the idea that authors and publishers deserve to benefit from their efforts, and that copyright laws are a good concept (however poorly implemented I might feel they currently are in my country), I figure if I've got a paper copy, then I am accounting for one of the copies that the author and publisher were paid for, and I don't really have any qualms about acquiring and reading an electronic copy that may have come from somewhere other than the publisher or author.

I have one copy that was paid for, and I'm only reading one copy, and I'm not spreading any other copies around, so I don't have any ethical problem, and I frankly consider such a scenario to be 'fair use' even though the law may technically disagree with me, and many publishers and authors may vehemently disagree with me. :shrug:

How do you see those factors interacting from your perspective, MacBeezle? :shy:

yvanleterrible
07-10-2007, 10:07 AM
There is an ethical point I'd like to see resolved.

Many people buy books and records used. I do most of mine and not out of greed. When one buys used, nothing goes to the author. Should we outlaw used media outlets? I would like to see funds reach the authors in more ways, what they get is often ridiculous.

I feel that a basic direct sales approach such as Steve Jordan's is the better choice for authors. I'd like to see it combined with something else. When someone buys at Connect as an example, a certain part goes back to the author. Things should be the other way around but that is pure utopia. Here is my suggestion. There could be a site with book choices, click on titles and the sales are redirected to the author's site; he pays back the distributor. Everything could be automated and most of the funds generated by this type of coop would support its infrastructure and promotion of the works.

HarryT
07-10-2007, 10:19 AM
I would make an ethical distriction between downloading an eBook where one is available commercially, and downloading one in a situation where one is not commercially available.

Where an eBook can be commercially bought, I would personally always buy it, even in cases where I've already bought the paperback. I don't personally feel that buying the paperback gives me any "rights" to that book in electronic form.

In cases, however, where there IS no commercial eBook available, and I've bought the book in paper form (in some cases a number of times), I personally don't feel any ethical qualms about downloading an eBook, although I'm certainly not kidding myself that it's legal for me to do so. In this category I'd put such books as Harry Potter, LOTR, etc. Having bought at least half a dozen versions of LOTR over the decades, from cheap paperbacks to $200+ fancy illustrated hardbacks I figure that Mr. Tolkein's estate has had more than its money's worth out of me.

volwrath
07-10-2007, 10:44 AM
Where an eBook can be commercially bought, I would personally always buy it, even in cases where I've already bought the paperback. I don't personally feel that buying the paperback gives me any "rights" to that book in electronic form.


Interesting that you don't feel buying the paperback gives you rights to the ebook format if its available for sell. What about if you ripped the paperback up, scanned the documents, and OCRed it yourself? Would that make a difference? And if that is acceptable, what the difference between you doing it and someone else doing it.

MacBeezle
07-10-2007, 11:09 AM
that this is not the place for such discussions.

I totally agree.


So, I guess then that the real question is, what do you think about the ethics of using/downloading/making electronic copies of books that you own or don't own, from the perspective of your ethical and moral world view, MacBeezle?


I'll keep my thoughts about that to myself ;)

slayda
07-10-2007, 11:36 AM
Interesting that you don't feel buying the paperback gives you rights to the ebook format if its available for sell. What about if you ripped the paperback up, scanned the documents, and OCRed it yourself? Would that make a difference? And if that is acceptable, what the difference between you doing it and someone else doing it.

The difference is in the distribution. Fair use may include my "media shifting" of a book I own but would not include giving a copy (that I made) to someone else. That is one aspect of the original ethics that doesn't seem to be addressed -i.e. "Is it ethical to download an illegally distributed copy of an ebook, regardless of what you have previously purchased?"

Keep in mind that even though the society's mores, which are essentially made up of the accumulated individual's ethical sense, generally create the country's laws (at least in the US), more often than not it is "whoever has the most money" that really make things legal or not. This is why, for example, it is illegal to build your own device to unencrypt video signals that the video satellites freely beam down on you, whether you want them or not. Those companies have spent more money lobbying the the everyday citizen has. :unafraid:

rwsimon
07-10-2007, 11:56 AM
Ethical issues related to copyrighted material have gotten so much more complicated in the era of digital media. There has never been an ethical problem associated with loaning somebody a book (or a record or a tape or such) when it was a matter of passing physical media back and forth. However, in the digital age, how does one "loan" somebody an e-book, for example, when both parties will at that point have the item in question? It seems to me that the properties of digital media cannot have changed the moral standing of lending one's property to another. However, if such a loan is no problem, one can quickly extrapolate to propagating the book to an unlimited number of people, one friend at a time. It's not an easy issue, but I guess it's one we're stuck with.

HarryT
07-10-2007, 12:43 PM
Interesting that you don't feel buying the paperback gives you rights to the ebook format if its available for sell. What about if you ripped the paperback up, scanned the documents, and OCRed it yourself? Would that make a difference?

Yes, I'd be OK with that.

And if that is acceptable, what the difference between you doing it and someone else doing it.

The difference is clear. The person who uploads that book for me to download has not ensured that it's only downloaded by someone who's bought the book. It could be downloaded by 10,000 people who haven't. That is a very wrong thing to do, IMHO.

volwrath
07-10-2007, 01:00 PM
Yes, I'd be OK with that.

The difference is clear. The person who uploads that book for me to download has not ensured that it's only downloaded by someone who's bought the book. It could be downloaded by 10,000 people who haven't. That is a very wrong thing to do, IMHO.

That a good point.

NatCh
07-10-2007, 01:21 PM
So, I guess then that the real question is, what do you think about the ethics of using/downloading/making electronic copies of books that you own or don't own, from the perspective of your ethical and moral world view, MacBeezle?

I'll keep my thoughts about that to myself ;)Certainly your choice to make MacBeezle. :yes:

I feel I should apologize, however, for the tone of that question.

I just realized that it came across as a bit hostile, and I didn't mean it that way at all. :unafraid:

I was trying to re-engage with the thread's original question, and because I was in a bit of a hurry I wasn't as careful to make sure that what I said sounded the way I meant it.

I really wasn't trying to be as obnoxious as that quote sounded, and I'm sorry it came out that way. :sad:

astra
07-10-2007, 01:23 PM
If I owe a paper book, I have no problem with dowloading ebook version of it. Moreover, since I have already paid for the paper book, I will not pay anymore for a different edition. On the other hand, 95% I buy hardback editions and this is the best contribution to an author, because their real money come only from the first edition hardback books (I loath to feed middleman, they usually are very greedy and are making easy money on someone's talent). So, I don't feel guilty when I download ebook version of a hardback edition I owe.

nekokami
07-10-2007, 04:34 PM
There could be a site with book choices, click on titles and the sales are redirected to the author's site; he pays back the distributor. Everything could be automated and most of the funds generated by this type of coop would support its infrastructure and promotion of the works.

I've been considering creating such a site, by using the Amazon (and other similar) affiliate systems. It would work like this: the author would create an account at the coop site. (I haven't figured out yet how to validate the author's identity, though.) The author would then list their book, and the site would create links to purchase that book, new or used, via the affiliate programs. The author would then get their cut as the referring party. I'm not sure how much of a paperback's list price authors normally get, but this might amount to about the same amount for many used books, especially hardcovers. Then, with some decent marketing, we could try to make this the preferred way of buying used books. It wouldn't raise the costs to the purchasers at all, so I think it would have a decent chance of working.

Thoughts?

nekokami
07-10-2007, 04:43 PM
Does anyone know where I can purchase C.S. Lewis e-books which are naturally compatible with the PRS 500? (I realize this is slightly off topic). I've hardly been able to locate them at all...with the exception of a single book of poetry which is in the Public Domain.

As far as I have been able to tell, these are not available in a legal ebook edition, though there are copies of Narnia and some of his other books readily available on the darknet.

How do you folks feel the ethics of the situation changes after the author is dead?

JSWolf
07-10-2007, 05:09 PM
A similiar dillema is Do you support Sony and the PRS 500 and buy BBeb DRM'ed books, or do you buy another popular DRMed ebook format that is susceptible to being unlocked?
I follow the CD rule of thumb. I'm legally allowed to rip any CD I have purchased for use on my computer and on my Rio Carma. I have taken the CD and converted the format to a different format able to be used in other situations other then a CD player. I don't have to find some online music store to purchase the music I have already paid for in order to take it with me.

That said, I do the same thing with my ebooks. I know this may possibly not be legal, but ethical I think yes. I paid for the ebook. I want the ability to read it on my Sony Reader. If I was to get a different device that no longer supported BBeB (LRF) format, then I might still have the ability to take my books with me.

What makes ebooks any different then CDs in terms of format conversion for one's own personal use?

JSWolf
07-10-2007, 06:55 PM
The other issue is what if you cannot get a copy of the ebook you want in the format you need for your reader? If I want a book on my reader and I cannot get it in a format that my reader supports but I can get it in a format that I can convert, would I just not buy the book or do I buy it and convert it? If I don't buy it, the author gets nothing. If I buy it, the author gets a cut.

JSWolf
07-10-2007, 06:55 PM
Does anyone know where I can purchase C.S. Lewis e-books which are naturally compatible with the PRS 500? (I realize this is slightly off topic). I've hardly been able to locate them at all...with the exception of a single book of poetry which is in the Public Domain.

Thank you all so much for helping me think through these issues and begin to gain a bit more clarity.
I'vejust taken a look and I cannot find any copies available legally. So what I an guessing is none of the Narnia books are available as ebooks. Sorry.

HarryT
07-11-2007, 04:01 AM
I'm not sure how much of a paperback's list price authors normally get, but this might amount to about the same amount for many used books, especially hardcovers.

10% of cover price is a typical PB royalty.

mogui
07-11-2007, 07:18 AM
Many people buy books and records used. I do most of mine and not out of greed. When one buys used, nothing goes to the author. Should we outlaw used media outlets? I would like to see funds reach the authors in more ways, what they get is often ridiculous.
Authors get nothing from library loans in most countries. They get nothing from used book sales.
:book2:
The concepts underpinning the copyright laws are plainly unworkable. For example, some libraries "loan" ebooks. If my friend owns "Ender's Game" and I ask him if he would be willing to loan it to me to read if I asked him to. He replies in the affirmative. The author won't benefit in any way, so I might as well download it from a warez site rather than driving across town to pick up the book.
:punk:
Messy isn't it? It gets worse! In the mid 80's I had a software company. I caught a vendor making and selling copies of my software. I requested the FBI to enforce the copyright laws. They promised to investigate. Three weeks later when I had heard nothing from them I called. They informed me they would do nothing (including, apparently, answer my complaint) because there wasn't enough money involved! But just watch them start hopping around if Microsoft calls! Is a citizen obligated to obey a law that fails to protect him and only supports the interests of the wealthy?
:true:
If a song is played on the radio, the artists get a royalty. How can we build a system so that when a book is read, the author gets a royalty? Obviously paper books will never accomplish this. But the right system of eBook eReaders could. I'm talking micropayments. A penny a page? Your reader sends an updated count in every time it is connected?
:crowngrin:
Some would still cheat on this system, but I bet more authors would make more money and more books would be written as a result. I am in favor of uploading all written works with an author's embedded signature. Anyone could upload. Hee hee -- no editors! More writers could break into "print". People would visit sites to read popularity ratings then freely download what they like. If and when they read the book, the author would get a couple of bucks.
:mad:

Azayzel
07-11-2007, 09:26 AM
Haha, good idea! Perhaps you should fire up such an enterprise and take it for a test-drive (may end up getting bought by M$ in the end, so watch out!). I think the initial problem would be to locate initial funds to start paying royalties and you might want to run a few test case algorythms to ensure you're not going to pay out too much too fast. It would be an intrested case-study in the very least. :thumbsup:

MacBeezle
07-11-2007, 11:39 AM
Certainly your choice to make MacBeezle. :yes:

I feel I should apologize, however, for the tone of that question.

I just realized that it came across as a bit hostile, and I didn't mean it that way at all. :unafraid:

I was trying to re-engage with the thread's original question, and because I was in a bit of a hurry I wasn't as careful to make sure that what I said sounded the way I meant it.

I really wasn't trying to be as obnoxious as that quote sounded, and I'm sorry it came out that way. :sad:


Absolutely no need to apologize!

pruss
07-11-2007, 12:23 PM
In the U.S., it might be legally fair use (and morally acceptable) to convert a copyrighted book that one owns a copy of toThe har electronic format for one's personal use. Then again it might not be--it depends on what a court would say (I hate the idea of laws whose applicability depends on future court decisions). However, it is my feeling--and I am not a lawyer--that courts would be make a distinction between one's own converting a book one owns for personal use and one's downloading someone else's conversion of the said book. I suspect that the latter is illegal.

Is it moral? Well, in the case where a licensed electronic version of the book is readily available, one is not giving the author/publisher fair compensation for the item. So in that case it is not moral. It's a matter of not giving the worker his wages.

The harder case is where an electronic copy is not available. Then one is not depriving the author/publisher of anything by copying the item. Nonetheless, one is making use of the labor of another without compensating the worker. Moreover, it seems to be illegal, and we are generally morally bound to follow the law, whether because we have sworn to do so (e.g., when I became a Canadian citizen I swore to follow Her Majesty's laws) or simply because we live under their authority.

The "generally" is a difficult issue and people disagree on it. We are not bound to follow laws that require us to do something immoral (e.g., Nazi laws requiring one to turn Jews in to the Gestapo).

There may also be room for genuine civil disobedience in the case of immoral laws, even when these laws do not require us to do anything immoral (e.g., if a law commands me to sit in a particular part of a bus because of my race, it is not immoral for me to obey this law, but nonetheless the law is immoral and civil disobedience may be appropriate). However, copyright laws are not immoral (in some aspects they seem clearly misguided--for instance the copyright extensions were indeed misguided--but misguided and immoral are not the same), and anyway someone who downloads a copyrighted work is generally not engaging in civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is a peaceful, public act coupled with an acceptance of legal consequences, rather than a furtive, private act of downloading.

This leaves one last question. Is it morally required to obey laws that are not immoral but are merely unreasonable. The standard for "unreasonableness" had better be pretty strict. Otherwise, given the wide disagreement between citizens in a democratic society, chaos would result if people felt free to disobey laws they didn't see as reasonable. One way to make for such a standard is to talk of laws that no reasonable and moderately well-informed person could defend.

Reasonable and moderately well-informed people do defend copyright laws as they stand. So that standard wouldn't allow disobedience.

Another approach, however, would be to look at the purpose behind the law. Thus one might think that it is OK to disobey a law if in doing so one is not harming the purpose behind the law. The purpose behind a copyright law is the furthering of innovation and the fair compensation of producers of intellectual property. Downloading the materials does not harm the furthering of innovation, but does go against the fair compensation purpose, it seems. (Question: Suppose that I downloaded the materials, but then sent a check to the publisher and to the author with a fair price?)

All that said, it seems to me that if one disobeys a law, one's reason for doing so should be pretty serious (e.g., fighting racism)--mere convenience should not be enough.

volwrath
07-11-2007, 01:16 PM
Is it moral? Well, in the case where a licensed electronic version of the book is readily available, one is not giving the author/publisher fair compensation for the item. So in that case it is not moral. It's a matter of not giving the worker his wages.


100% disagree. If I own the book in hardcover (or paperback), I see no problem in downloading the ebook, as I have given the author fair compensation by buying the paper copy. Ther person who supplies the ebook is definitely doing it immorally as I believe HarryT stated earlier.

rwsimon
07-11-2007, 01:30 PM
100% disagree. If I own the book in hardcover (or paperback), I see no problem in downloading the ebook, as I have given the author fair compensation by buying the paper copy. Ther person who supplies the ebook is definitely doing it immorally as I believe HarryT stated earlier.

By this reasoning, if you already own the hardcover version, it is ok to steal the paperback copy.

This is a slippery slope, folks!

volwrath
07-11-2007, 01:51 PM
By this reasoning, if you already own the hardcover version, it is ok to steal the paperback copy.

This is a slippery slope, folks!

It is a slippery slope, but its also called fairuse. So if you bought the latest Rush CD, should you not be able to rip it to .mp3? After all they sell digital equivalents at iTunes, so by your reasoning, you are stealing the mp3s by ripping them.

HarryT
07-11-2007, 01:57 PM
It is a slippery slope, but its also called fairuse.

It may be "fair use" under the copyright laws of your country, but it certainly isn't under British copyright law. The 1988 "Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act", which is the legislation covering such things in the UK permits one to copy one chapter of a book, or one article from a magazine. Scanning an entire book - even one which you own - is illegal in this country.

rwsimon
07-11-2007, 01:58 PM
It seems like fair use boils down to the source of the copy. I have absolutely no qualms about ripping a CD I own to put a copy on my iPod. But I won't go find the same CD on some internet site to get it that way. On the other hand, I probably can't give you a very convincing argument for why these two things are different, other than that using the illegal route helps sustain that channel in some sense. Of course, there is the practical distinction between ebooks and CDs that we all have the ability to easily transfer from CDs to digital files while getting from pbooks to ebooks is not so simple. I guess that just muddies the waters further though.

volwrath
07-11-2007, 02:12 PM
It may be "fair use" under the copyright laws of your country, but it certainly isn't under British copyright law. The 1988 "Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act", which is the legislation covering such things in the UK permits one to copy one chapter of a book, or one article from a magazine. Scanning an entire book - even one which you own - is illegal in this country.

Yes I've heard that before. Rather draconian if you ask me :)

It seems like fair use boils down to the source of the copy. I have absolutely no qualms about ripping a CD I own to put a copy on my iPod. But I won't go find the same CD on some internet site to get it that way. On the other hand, I probably can't give you a very convincing argument for why these two things are different, other than that using the illegal route helps sustain that channel in some sense. Of course, there is the practical distinction between ebooks and CDs that we all have the ability to easily transfer from CDs to digital files while getting from pbooks to ebooks is not so simple. I guess that just muddies the waters further though.

Bah you've taken all my arguments away from me :)

bingle
07-11-2007, 03:51 PM
I think there are a lot of interesting issues here.

It seems like the motivations for paying for a digital copy of the book are mostly along the lines of supporting the author. But as others have pointed out, authors don't get any support from used book sales, library loans, or books borrowed from a friend.
If you, as a reader, used to get your books from these sources, does downloading free ebooks now change the issue? and if you don't download free ebooks, what did this change about your book reading habits/budget?
And, in some cases, does the current status of the author matter? Does a dead author need support, or does J.K. Rowling?

Another motivation seems to be to support the idea of ebooks, and maintain a viable marketplace for ebooks. Does this extend to buying your favorites whether you want to read them again or not? Does it extend to buying the BBeB version of a Gutenberg classic?

It also seems that availability can affect people's choices. If you've bought a book that you can't buy the ebook version of, do you download it? Do you buy a second copy, perhaps, to make up for it?

If you do download ebooks of books you own, does it matter whether you bought the book new or used? What if a friend loans you the book and expects it back, but you prefer to read it on the Reader?

Is the relative 'polish' of commercial ebooks a factor in anyone's decision? People have claimed that iTunes' success lies, in part, in providing reliable, easy-to-find versions of songs. Pirate music, while cheaper, isn't as reliable or as easy to use.

It seems as though legality isn't really a huge factor on anyone's mind. I'm not sure, but I think this particular activity is in a bit of a legal grey area. Format-shifting hasn't been ruled to be either legal or illegal in a decision. (I'm not convinced an MP3 is a 'derivative work' of a CD, and I know no court has ruled that way...) Time-shifting is explicitly allowed, however (which doesn't hold much meaning for books).

I don't know if I added anything here. Just trying to summarize and probe what I think is a really interesting discussion.

slayda
07-11-2007, 04:02 PM
By this reasoning, if you already own the hardcover version, it is ok to steal the paperback copy.

This is a slippery slope, folks!

Sorry but this is not an appropriate comparison. If you steal a paperback book from me then I no longer have it. However if you make an illegal ecopy of my book, I still have my ebook.

slayda
07-11-2007, 04:05 PM
It may be "fair use" under the copyright laws of your country, but it certainly isn't under British copyright law. The 1988 "Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act", which is the legislation covering such things in the UK permits one to copy one chapter of a book, or one article from a magazine. Scanning an entire book - even one which you own - is illegal in this country.

Hey Harry, would it be legal in the UK for several of us to get together, each with a copy of one chapter - combine them for a complete book and then share the result?

rwsimon
07-11-2007, 04:22 PM
Sorry but this is not an appropriate comparison. If you steal a paperback book from me then I no longer have it. However if you make an illegal ecopy of my book, I still have my ebook.

That is true... But what I am trying to focus in on is the acceptance of stolen goods, not the identity of the victim.

Suppose you set up a little printing press in your basement and churned out a few hundred copies of the paperback and just started giving them away. Clearly, you would be doing something illegal and immoral. How about the people who take them from you? Do we think that if the books are given out free, we are morally on solid ground to take them? I rather doubt it. We are complicit in ripping off the publisher and author. And owning the hardcover version already doesn't seem to change anything. So, with respect to ebooks, it doesn't seem to me that the lack of physical media turns the ethics inside out.

I'm mostly throwing out strawman arguments here because, frankly, I think all of this is pretty murky.

slayda
07-11-2007, 04:50 PM
T
frankly, I think all of this is pretty murky.

I agree completely. The fact that the cost of copying an ebook is essentially nil and that the owner does not lose his/her copy is part of what makes things even more murky and the slope much more slippery.

nekokami
07-11-2007, 05:52 PM
Is the relative 'polish' of commercial ebooks a factor in anyone's decision? People have claimed that iTunes' success lies, in part, in providing reliable, easy-to-find versions of songs. Pirate music, while cheaper, isn't as reliable or as easy to use.
Honestly, I think this is where the decisions are ultimately going to be made, regardless of the legality (or even ethics) of the rest of the arguments. I truly believe that if you make it inexpensive and simple to do the right thing, most people will, and the minority who may not won't be worth worrying about.

Unfortunately, our existing copyright structure gets in the way of doing the right thing, instead of making it easier. Disney wants to be able to control the market supply of their content to hike up the price, so works are allowed-- even encouraged-- to go out of print. And even in the case of works like books, with a single author, the author may want to get the book back into print but may have no way of doing so, because the rights may be tied up by a publishing house that's now defunct, but someone else bought their backlist and is sitting on it.

In this sense, I think sharing files can, in fact, be an act of civil disobedience. There are certainly risks and consequences, as the BlackMask story shows. But, for example, most of Rumer Godden (http://www.rumergodden.com/)'s work is now out of print. She died 10 years ago. PG has access to none of her writings. Her estate apparently plans to put out a few new editions for the centennial of her birth, this year, but I bet most of her excellent books for children will be left in obscurity. How can this be good for anyone?

bingle
07-11-2007, 07:26 PM
Suppose you set up a little printing press in your basement and churned out a few hundred copies of the paperback and just started giving them away. Clearly, you would be doing something illegal and immoral.




Clearly? Interesting.

Let's say you're from the future. In addition to a nifty spandex unitard, you also have a replicator! It can produce any physical object once it knows the molecular "pattern". You see some poor, hungry people in the street. Appalled, you buy an apple from the fruit stand, duplicate its pattern, and begin giving the fruit to anyone who wants one.

"Stop!" The fruit stand owner shouts desperately, watching his profits vanish. "This is obviously illegal and immoral!"

Is he right? Does it make a difference if you're giving sports cars away, instead of apples? Does it matter if they are diamonds, rather than apples? Does it make a difference if you already have the pattern for an apple, and don't need to buy one from the vendor?

BTW, not-for-profit copyright infringement wasn't illegal in the US until the 1997 "No Electronic Theft (NET) Act". Prior to that, there were no criminal penalties for freely distributing copyrighted material without commercial gain.

I'd really like to see someone answer my questions - I'm not really taking a side, I just love the Socratic method ;-)

nekokami
07-11-2007, 08:10 PM
BTW, not-for-profit copyright infringement wasn't illegal in the US until the 1997 "No Electronic Theft (NET) Act". Prior to that, there were no criminal penalties for freely distributing copyrighted material without commercial gain.
I don't know about your apple replicator (it seems to me that the energy to produce the mass has to come from somewhere, so you're probably being charged for it, either that or everyone produces food this way already, and something other than material scarcity is driving the economy).

But I'm pretty sure there were criminal penalties in the US for distributing copyrighted material before 1997, whether for profit, for free, online, by sneakernet, or encrypted on stone tablets. The NET Act may have made this more explicit, but it really just reiterated existing copyright law, didn't it?

aleks
07-11-2007, 08:25 PM
It all simply boils down to paying the author for his or her work. Everyone wants to get paid for what they produce. It is up to the author to give away freebies. It is not for others to decide that the author can afford to lose book profits.

If I were an author and someone was stealing my book profits by posting ebooks then it would sure sour me on the idea of publishing in the electronic arena.

RWood
07-11-2007, 08:42 PM
It all simply boils down to paying the author for his or her work. Everyone wants to get paid for what they produce. It is up to the author to give away freebies. It is not for others to decide that the author can afford to lose book profits.

If I were an author and someone was stealing my book profits by posting ebooks then it would sure sour me on the idea of publishing in the electronic arena.
But there is more to a book than simply the author. Do not forget the editor (or editors) that helped the book alone, the agents that were able to place the book for publication, and the publisher that funded all of them in the hopes of getting a return on their investment. We could add the printers, the distributors, the artists that drew the graphics, the photographers, and the sales agents to the mix. I'm sure that I'm mising some people in the chain, sorry about that.

rwsimon
07-11-2007, 08:44 PM
Clearly? Interesting.

Let's say you're from the future. In addition to a nifty spandex unitard, you also have a replicator! It can produce any physical object once it knows the molecular "pattern". You see some poor, hungry people in the street. Appalled, you buy an apple from the fruit stand, duplicate its pattern, and begin giving the fruit to anyone who wants one.

"Stop!" The fruit stand owner shouts desperately, watching his profits vanish. "This is obviously illegal and immoral!"


Not sure this example works. The fruit stand owner only has rights to his apples, not to all apples. Now if the spandex dude started chunking out Apple iPods, then that fruit stand owner Steve Jobs would be quite justified in his shouting... ;)

Cpt. Tim
07-11-2007, 08:45 PM
Theres books in my life that i've bought multiple times, bought hardcover, bought paperback, gave away, bought again, bought used, gave away.

I figure that the money has gone to the writers pocket and the book goes to my brain. At that point i'm not going to cry over having a pirated text for my own usage. It would be much like a cd i have getting scratched and me making a copy of that disk from a friend. Legal? no. But ethically i've given the money. How the information i now own exists doesn't matter to me, it matters that the information is acessable to me.

Now if theres an offical ebook out there of it, stealing it is wrong. more work was done on that than was done in the paperback. someone paid for the liscense. someone formatted and made the ebook.

In general i try to refrain from finding internet texts of books i've already bought. For one it stunts the growth of the ebook industry, and two, they usually suck in quality. but sometimes i can't wait. Once the ebook industry gets to the level of quality itunes has set, then i'll be happy to once again pay for those books if the price is right.

DRM is another story. I've already bought a handful of books from sony. what happens when i want to buy an ebook reader? I'm screwed out of those purchases, unless i break the law. There really needs to be an industry standard because the thought that i will be shit out of luck with a new reader is stopping me from purchasing anything further from the connect store.

I think ultimately you have to do right by yourself. Me, i think if the author and publishers get the money for the product then its fine. (buying the hardcover and stealing the paperback isn't a good analogy because you're stealing product. physical material.) Theres no ebook police out there thats as ferocious as the RIAA. If you give the creators, and producers money, i don't think anyone should shed dears over it. I pay for media in multiple formats all the time. sometimes i get battlestar episodes on Itunes, and then i later buy the dvd box sets.
Sometimes i torrent a movie because i can't wait between when it leaves theater and when i'm able to buy dvds. Sure i guess it supports a culture of piracy thats springing, up. But i find that the powers that be have fueled it with damaged goods. Do right by yourself. because no one else is looking to call you on it.

kovidgoyal
07-11-2007, 09:04 PM
Here's the "poor grad student's perspective' since it doesn't seem to be represented:

I read about 2 books a week on average. What I used to do is go to the local library once a month and bring home a whole stack of books, for no cost, as I can't afford to buy that many paperbacks every month. Now if a particular author was not in my local library, I'd simply end up not reading him.

The internet is a godsend for guys like me :-)

pruss
07-11-2007, 09:05 PM
It is a slippery slope, but its also called fairuse. So if you bought the latest Rush CD, should you not be able to rip it to .mp3? After all they sell digital equivalents at iTunes, so by your reasoning, you are stealing the mp3s by ripping them.

I understand that US law allows the copying of music from a CD one owns. But it does not allow one to download an mp3 from a third-party site. At least I think this is what the courts have said.

There seem to me to be many ways of arranging a set of copyright laws that balance encouragement to content creators and availability to others. One particular set of laws has been chosen in the U.S. by duly elected representatives. The set of laws chosen is far from perfect, but nonetheless it is not clearly unreasonable on the whole. It seems reasonable, for instance, for a publisher to be able to charge you more for getting more and less for getting less, thus charging you $25 for a hardcover, $35 for a hardcover plus one electronic copy, $45 for a hardcover plus an electronic copy you can convert to arbitrary formats for personal use, and $20 million for a non-exclusive unlimited distribution and use license. The present set of copyright laws makes such tiered pricing possible, and it seems like a set of laws that make this possible is not a clearly unreasonable law.

Once laws are chosen, if the laws are not immoral or clearly unreasonable, we the subjects of these laws need to obey (or leave their jurisdiction).

slayda
07-11-2007, 09:27 PM
Once laws are chosen, if the laws are not immoral or clearly unreasonable, we the subjects of these laws need to obey (or leave their jurisdiction).

Or work to change the laws!

volwrath
07-11-2007, 09:56 PM
I understand that US law allows the copying of music from a CD one owns. But it does not allow one to download an mp3 from a third-party site. At least I think this is what the courts have said.

That is the way I understand it. But if you own the CD and rip the CDs @ 256, or if you download the equivalent cds@256, whats the real difference? Bit for bit, its the same thing.

Moving on to ebooks. If you have a paperback copy of the book, and scan it to make your own ebook, or download it to make your ebook, once again it is the same digital material. The only difference is, that it is much more a pain to make your own ebook. Besides I imagine most any any author wouldnt begrudge you downloading an ebook of their work, if you properly contributed to the author on the hardcover and/or paperback. It sure beats you not reading them at all.

There seem to me to be many ways of arranging a set of copyright laws that balance encouragement to content creators and availability to others. One particular set of laws has been chosen in the U.S. by duly elected representatives. The set of laws chosen is far from perfect, but nonetheless it is not clearly unreasonable on the whole. It seems reasonable, for instance, for a publisher to be able to charge you more for getting more and less for getting less, thus charging you $25 for a hardcover, $35 for a hardcover plus one electronic copy, $45 for a hardcover plus an electronic copy you can convert to arbitrary formats for personal use

If you feel thats reasonable, fine. Personally I think that is insane. So you truly think $20 over hardcover is reasonable to pay for an unDRMed ebook?

Once laws are chosen, if the laws are not immoral or clearly unreasonable, we the subjects of these laws need to obey (or leave their jurisdiction).

Not necessarily. Ever heard of civil disobedience? Besides the subject of this thread is about ethics, now which is lawful..big difference

mogui
07-11-2007, 10:35 PM
This is one of the all-time stimulating (and perhaps controversial) discussions here. Thanks to pruss for clarifying the dimension of morality in this context.

In some of the societies in which I have lived public morality is contingent upon consanguinity. If you are my brother I will treat you with all the care and honesty of which I am capable. If you are a stranger you can count on me cheating you if I am able. This is a fact of life in countries with high populations and pervasive poverty. Public morality is, unfortunately a luxury of affluence.

For many of the authors I have read over the years, I have a feeling of awe, reverence, maybe even love. They are wonders to me and I feel like I want to take care of them. We have a concept of boundaries in our western culture. We have physical boundaries (person and property). We have intellectual boundaries (creative works, properties of our labors). And we have emotional boundaries (sense of self, pride).

We interact with the boundaries of others along a continuum of respect. Aretha Franklin said it well a long time ago. When we have a sense of caring about our fellow man, we take care of his boundaries because we feel a kinship and a sense of what is right. This restates the morality argument in a psychological dimension.

In some third world nations, we will not find pirated books in the bookstores because there is no demand. But on every little street there are shops selling DVDs for less than a buck. First-run movies are available, sometimes even before they hit the theaters in the west. Now that is industry!

We don't create social systems because a few people demand them. We create them out of a sense of fairness, and unfortunately sometimes greed. If we are going to promote a system of compensation for authors that satisfies, we need consensus that the present systems do not serve anyone well. We need to respect the boundaries of creative people, even if only out of self-interest. We want more books, more paintings, more films, more tunes, and a world of ideas.

We cannot stop theft in poor countries, because respect for intellectual boundaries is an expensive commodity which they cannot yet afford. But in the comfortable places in our world we can create systems that encourage creativity at a minimal cost to ourselves. Authors and the like bend to their labors out of enthusiasm, or hope for profit. That is not clear, but clearly there are fewer of them able to quit their day jobs because the system shows them no respect.

What treasures are we losing?

igorsk
07-12-2007, 09:28 AM
I would recommend all participants to read Eric Flint's Salvos Against Big Brother. He has covered a lot of the points being discussed and many more. He also has an experience of being an author and an editor, so he can see more sides of the story than us.
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos2
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos3
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos4
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos5
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos6
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos7

http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/McCauley_copyright

volwrath
07-12-2007, 11:05 AM
In some of the societies in which I have lived public morality is contingent upon consanguinity. If you are my brother I will treat you with all the care and honesty of which I am capable. If you are a stranger you can count on me cheating you if I am able. This is a fact of life in countries with high populations and pervasive poverty. Public morality is, unfortunately a luxury of affluence.

For many of the authors I have read over the years, I have a feeling of awe, reverence, maybe even love. They are wonders to me and I feel like I want to take care of them. We have a concept of boundaries in our western culture. We have physical boundaries (person and property). We have intellectual boundaries (creative works, properties of our labors). And we have emotional boundaries (sense of self, pride).

We interact with the boundaries of others along a continuum of respect. Aretha Franklin said it well a long time ago. When we have a sense of caring about our fellow man, we take care of his boundaries because we feel a kinship and a sense of what is right. This restates the morality argument in a psychological dimension.

In some third world nations, we will not find pirated books in the bookstores because there is no demand. But on every little street there are shops selling DVDs for less than a buck. First-run movies are available, sometimes even before they hit the theaters in the west. Now that is industry!

{snip}

We cannot stop theft in poor countries, because respect for intellectual boundaries is an expensive commodity which they cannot yet afford. But in the comfortable places in our world we can create systems that encourage creativity at a minimal cost to ourselves. Authors and the like bend to their labors out of enthusiasm, or hope for profit. That is not clear, but clearly there are fewer of them able to quit their day jobs because the system shows them no respect.

What treasures are we losing?



All of your points in your posts are well thoughtout, and I totally agree with your statement that public morality is a luxury of the affluent. My arguments on this topic have dealt primarily with personal morality, which is a totally different animal. I guarantee if the government didn't protect the copyright laws here in the US we would have bootleg dvd's being sold in the streets.

BTW I wiki'd Yunnan and Kunming, and it looks like a beautiful province/city.

volwrath
07-12-2007, 11:07 AM
I would recommend all participants to read Eric Flint's Salvos Against Big Brother. He has covered a lot of the points being discussed and many more. He also has an experience of being an author and an editor, so he can see more sides of the story than us.
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos2
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos3
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos4
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos5
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos6
http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/salvos7

http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/McCauley_copyright

I didn't read all of his essays, but I agree with what I did read. I remember reading something similiar from Orson Scott Card in his hatrack river column a few years ago.

pruss
07-12-2007, 11:20 AM
It is indeed a deep issue. I've thought through some of these issues and reached as many confusions as I have conclusion.



In my estimation, if I buy the intellectual property "Ender's Game" (as an example) from the Microsoft Reader store (continuing the example, or if Microsoft has a promotion and gives the thing to me for that matter) I now have the right to enjoy my purchase in any manner I see fit. Certainly I can purchase a Microsoft Reader if I so desire and read it that way. However, to take actions with my own personal file, which is legally mine, which makes that file readable on my Sony Reader, seems well within my rights. I am not certain if the U.S. law governing such things would back me up, but I am fairly certain that it is the right thing.

But when you signed up with the MS Reader store, one almost certainly had to click through an agreement where one promised not to convert the ebook. It seems, thus, that by converting the file one is violating a promise one has made.

Cpt. Tim
07-12-2007, 12:50 PM
Once laws are chosen, if the laws are not immoral or clearly unreasonable, we the subjects of these laws need to obey (or leave their jurisdiction).

If everyone who smoked pot once and while left their state/country, the population of amsterdam would go through the roof.

In other words. I disagree.

Especially in an age where digital rights and digital copyright are going to be written by lawmakers under the influence of whatever industry lobbyist pays them the most.

yvanleterrible
07-12-2007, 12:58 PM
There are laws that are in favor by most of the population but are never respected. Ex: speed limits. On the boulevard that leads to my street, no one respects that limit, even the staunchiest observers can be seen speeding. I bet a shot of Karma that everybody here has a questionable ebook somewhere. And no I'm not talking about indexed books.:grin:

HarryT
07-12-2007, 01:08 PM
There are laws that are in favor by most of the population but are never respected. Ex: speed limits. On the boulevard that leads to my street, no one respects that limit, even the staunchiest observers can be seen speeding.

Don't you have speed cameras in Canada?

yvanleterrible
07-12-2007, 01:13 PM
Don't you have speed cameras in Canada?

They're setting some in Ontario and they're talking about it in Québec. Those are Provincial laws.

Cpt. Tim
07-12-2007, 01:28 PM
while a thing usually broken, speed limits are laws put in place for safety.

Until recently in america in many states sodomy was illegal. Some states definition extened sodomy to any sex that wasn't textbook intercourse (no oral, and i believe in some areas, it had to be missionary.) These weren't just those old kooky laws still on the books. It had to go to the supreme court.

In many of those states sex toys are illegal.

I think laws are a good thing. But as with these laws, sometimes you just have to make a personal moral judgement in a matter... and then hope you don't get caught.

HarryT
07-12-2007, 01:31 PM
They certainly work extremely well in stopping people speeding, and you can't "escape" them. Although some people moan about them, they are no "threat" to those who obey the law and have had a huge impact on road safety here in the UK, where we have thousands of them.

volwrath
07-12-2007, 01:32 PM
In many of those states sex toys are illegal.


Someof those sex toys SHOULD be illegal. I'd freak if I saw my wife coming at me with SOME of those toys :D

nekokami
07-12-2007, 02:34 PM
If I were an author and someone was stealing my book profits by posting ebooks then it would sure sour me on the idea of publishing in the electronic arena.
But what if you were an author, and some of your older books had been allowed to go out of print by your publisher, and these books started getting passed around the darknet, and sales of your current works went up as a result?

It's been said before and I agree: obscurity is a bigger threat to most authors than piracy.

nekokami
07-12-2007, 02:54 PM
Once laws are chosen, if the laws are not immoral or clearly unreasonable, we the subjects of these laws need to obey (or leave their jurisdiction).
Or lobby against them if we do feel that they are unreasonable... and it would help if a large group of us had some kind of consensus on what would be better. That's why I participate in these discussions.

I personally feel that author's life + 75 years for copyright protection is highly unreasonable. With the ease of publishing digital content these days, I think it's quite unreasonable that publishers should be allowed to let content go out of print for longer than, say, a year but then object to others making it available. And I think it's extremely unreasonable that long-tail content like books be permitted to be sold in proprietary, locked systems when we have no example of technology lasting longer than a couple of years.

After reading comments by many professional authors and doing my humble best to think through the issues, here's what I would suggest instead:

- Copyright lasts for publication + 30 years. "Moral rights" (i.e. rights involving how characters may be used, or derivative works, etc.) last until the author's death.

- Any work that falls "out of print" via commercial distribution for a span of greater than 12 months should lapse to the author, then, after another 12 months, to the public domain if still out of print.

- No proprietary format may restrict access to a work for longer than that format has been in commercial use, plus 1 year (just to give them a head start). So Sony can restrict access to Connect content for 1 year, but after that it has to be able to automatically unlock itself. Once they've been in business supporting their format for a few years, they can lengthen that span.

- Unencrypted copies of every work "published" should be filed with an agency the equivalent of the Library of Congress for use in the case of works falling out of print.

I think this would do plenty to protect the rights of authors, publishers, and everyone else with a reasonable stake in the publishing industry, while also protecting the public interest in maintaining the availability of works and the private interest in ensuring continuing access to content purchased. But I doubt Disney and LucasFilms, among others, would calmly stand by and allow such laws to be implemented. :rolleyes:

Cpt. Tim
07-12-2007, 03:00 PM
Or lobby against them if we do feel that they are unreasonable...

Good luck. I know i couldn't give up my free time to go lobby for this stuff. And even if the community rallied and scraped together a salary to buy our own lobbyist, that moneys paying for the lobbyist, not sitting in some congressmans wallet, which is where it eventually needs to find itself.

No. we just don't have the finanical clout to make a difference, and its not like this is a emotional hotbutton issue you can rally the common populace behind.

slayda
07-12-2007, 03:06 PM
I

Especially in an age where digital rights and digital copyright are going to be written by lawmakers under the influence of whatever industry lobbyist pays them the most.

Here! Here!

bingle
07-12-2007, 05:33 PM
I don't know about your apple replicator (it seems to me that the energy to produce the mass has to come from somewhere, so you're probably being charged for it, either that or everyone produces food this way already, and something other than material scarcity is driving the economy).

Well, right. But it's a thought experiment - a little scenario meant to isolate the philosophical principles behind people's stances. Like the "Ring of Gyges" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_of_Gyges). We've thought about Intellectual property as a special entity for so long, it might be worth considering the same scenario with 'conventional' property. Is it stealing to deprive the apple merchant of a sale he might otherwise have made?

But I'm pretty sure there were criminal penalties in the US for distributing copyrighted material before 1997, whether for profit, for free, online, by sneakernet, or encrypted on stone tablets. The NET Act may have made this more explicit, but it really just reiterated existing copyright law, didn't it?

No, the courts decided that there was no explicit law allowing for punishment of non-commercial copyright infringement, and suggested that Congress might want to change that... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NET_Act).

Prior to the Internet, it was difficult and expensive for copyright works to be duplicated and distributed, so people generally didn't do it for free, only for profit. So Congress apparently overlooked it while drafting the copyright laws. (Or there are other interpretations for its absence...)

bingle
07-12-2007, 05:39 PM
Not sure this example works. The fruit stand owner only has rights to his apples, not to all apples. Now if the spandex dude started chunking out Apple iPods, then that fruit stand owner Steve Jobs would be quite justified in his shouting... ;)

Would he? Why is the situation different? It depends on the "evil"* in the action. If the spandex man gives something away for free to another, why is that act evil? (This isn't a rhetorical question, I really want an answer...) Phrasing the question in that way sort of highlights the issues here: on the face of it, it's *not* an evil act.

Is it evil because the fruit stand owner has been deprived of a sale? Or is there another reason?

*I'm using evil as a clear term for "morally undesirable"

nekokami
07-12-2007, 11:40 PM
In this example, the replicator is what's known as a "disruptive technology," ne? If everyone can have one, the economy will go through turmoil to adjust. If only Spandex-Future-Man has one, then he might want to think about how he's going to share the wealth (assuming he can replicate things like apples essentially for free). Perhaps he should also replicate something else the apple guy can sell instead, to make up for the lost income. But if he decides to replicate the replicator, see above about collapsing economies. (Never mind the potential time travel paradox-- you can make him Spandex Man from Another Planet if you like.)

Yes, I think when someone chooses to mess with a local economy they take on a certain responsibility for their actions. Feed the people free apples, and the apple guy's kids starve. But I still don't think the case is parallel to that of ebooks, for this reason: ebooks involve a creative effort. If you duplicate them, you don't get a new ebook, you get the same ebook again. If I get a duplicated apple every day, even though all the apples are the same, I won't be as hungry as before (even though I may get sick of apples). The market value of apples in general will change, but they will still have a value of sorts, because they still have nutritive value. If I get the same ebook duplicated for me every day, I think its value (to me) will drop more quickly than that of the apple, but the market value of new ebooks does not change-- they are still valuable.

Perhaps rapid duplication will reward those who are able to produce new content quickly enough to stay ahead of the reproduction curve. But I think something like embedded advertising is more likely to be a factor. Rather than Mogui having to pay every time he reads a page, some advertiser should have to pay every time Mogui reads a page with their ad on it. (And as with the apples and ebooks that people get tired of after a while, it would be a good idea to have a way to rotate the ads so people have a chance of noticing them.)

Note: I'm not saying I wish my books had ads in them. I'm just noting that this is the most likely prospect I can think of for compensating authors, publishers et al in a world of essentially free digital replication of written content.

mogui
07-12-2007, 11:47 PM
Perhaps rapid duplication will reward those who are able to produce new content quickly enough to stay ahead of the reproduction curve. But I think something like embedded advertising is more likely to be a factor. Rather than Mogui having to pay every time he reads a page, some advertiser should have to pay every time Mogui reads a page with their ad on it. (And as with the apples and ebooks that people get tired of after a while, it would be a good idea to have a way to rotate the ads so people have a chance of noticing them.)

Note: I'm not saying I wish my books had ads in them. I'm just noting that this is the most likely prospect I can think of for compensating authors, publishers et al in a world of essentially free digital replication of written content.
Wow! This could work. I wouldn't mind some ads. Note: Concept officially added to the DRMp2p idea (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?p=80978#post80978). The author could choose whether to take on a sponsor for his eBooks and how much that would affect the cost of reading. I envision a standard cost of reading, but authors might quarrel with that. If the author could set the rate maybe he could play with supply/demand issues. The rate could be set within his account on the DRMp2p server on a book-by-book basis. If he added a sponsor, he could reduce or eliminate the royalty fee.

NatCh
07-13-2007, 12:33 AM
In this example, the replicator is what's known as a "disruptive technology," ne? If everyone can have one, the economy will go through turmoil to adjust.I read a book a few years ago that you might be interested by, nekokami, it's actually not very well written (it's an early effort by the author that's been published since he got a following), but the concept was extremely intriguing to me (and it's most definitely not mil-Sci-Fi, which I know you don't enjoy).

Basically, a dying human race sends a ship to a nearby star's habitable planet with a cargo of genetic material and robots whose job it was to set up the civilization and create a new set of humans from the cargo and raise them.

About 2~3 generations later (I can't remember specifically), a "live" set of humans follow from Earth to the new world, to discover that the 'new' humans have developed a society that's completely unconcerned with material things ('cause the Robots build everything anyone needs) and they've developed a value system all their own based on what their individual competencies and societal contributions.

The execution is rough, the writing is a bit rough, but the I found the concept is as intriguing as all get out.

Oh, yeah, the book: Voyage From Yesteryear (http://www.amazon.com/Voyage-Yesteryear-James-P-Hogan/dp/0671577980/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-2940474-5661559?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1184296915&sr=8-1), by James P. Hogan.

mogui
07-13-2007, 01:19 AM
Thanks for the book tip. I enjoy Hogan.

Reminds me of a book I read long ago, title obscured by the mists of time, where the inhabitants (nonhuman I think) had an economy of "obs" (obligations). They would do something for you very freely and generously and thereby accumulate "obs", a system of credit. It was very interesting how beings in this economy resisted having anything done for them and made every effort to do for others.

Anyone remember the book?

Nate the great
07-13-2007, 01:35 AM
Thanks for the book tip. I enjoy Hogan.

Reminds me of a book I read long ago, title obscured by the mists of time, where the inhabitants (nonhuman I think) had an economy of "obs" (obligations). They would do something for you very freely and generously and thereby accumulate "obs", a system of credit. It was very interesting how beings in this economy resisted having anything done for them and made every effort to do for others.

Anyone remember the book?

I am thinking it is a short story with human inhabitants. Do "Anti-Gand" and "MYOB" ring a bell? I don't know where I saw it.

mogui
07-13-2007, 01:52 AM
"myob" was part of it.

mogui
07-13-2007, 02:03 AM
"And Then There Were None" is a much-anthologized sf short story by Eric Frank Russell. Its peaceful anarchism enchanted me when I first read it, decades ago; I still think that it holds great and gentle wisdom. I'll struggle to restrain myself from spoiling the tale for those who haven't yet seen it. But one facet, the monetary system that Russell sketches out, is so central that I have to describe it here.

On the planet where the story takes place people trade not coins or currency but "Obs" --- their shorthand word for "Obligations". Do me a favor and I owe you in turn: you've laid an ob on me that you can call in, or use to kill an ob that somebody else has put on you. (It's similar to a famous exchange of favors in Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather.) Maybe an ob-based economy couldn't work on a larger scale than a village, where everybody knows everybody else. (Or maybe it could?!). from here (http://zhurnal.net/ww/zw?MyOb).

The story is here (http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.htm). And the novel is described here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Explosion) and the novel is here (http://tmh.floonet.net/books/tge/chapter1.html). I think it is legal as it is linked by Wikipedia. Guess what I'm reading next!

HarryT
07-13-2007, 03:39 AM
I personally feel that author's life + 75 years for copyright protection is highly unreasonable.

A minor correction - it's life + 70 years, not life + 75.

Tell me, if you started a business manufacturing widgets, do you think it unreasonable that you should be allowed to pass on your widget-making business to your descendents as a part of your estate? Would you say that 70 years after your death all rights to that business should be forcibly taken away from your descendents, and that they should no longer be able to gain any profit from it?

I've always been slightly curious why it is that people feel that copyright protection should be somehow "different" from protection for "physical" entities (like widget-making factories). Writing is just as much "real work" as manufacturing widgets - why should one not be able to carry on earning income from such a thing after the death of the originator as one can with any other type of business?

Nate the great
07-13-2007, 08:08 AM
A copyright stops the making of copies of a work. It does not affect who owns the existing physical copies. The only way to protect a widget factory in the same manner is a patent. A patent only protect for 17 years, not life+70. So yes, copyright is different.

Now do I think it unreasonable that you should pass the patent on to your heirs, like you can a copyright? I think the length of the term of copyright is incredibly unreasonable right now.

NatCh
07-13-2007, 10:47 AM
from here (http://zhurnal.net/ww/zw?MyOb).

The story is here (http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.htm). And the novel is described here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Explosion) and the novel is here (http://tmh.floonet.net/books/tge/chapter1.html). I think it is legal as it is linked by Wikipedia. Guess what I'm reading next!Thanks for the link, mogui! It sounds like something I'll enjoy reading ... and thinking about, those are pretty rare. :)

pruss
07-13-2007, 11:32 AM
- Unencrypted copies of every work "published" should be filed with an agency the equivalent of the Library of Congress for use in the case of works falling out of print.

By the way (and this is a bit off-topic), I once looked at the LoC regulations for filing copies. As far as I can tell, currently anything posted on a public website counts as "published", since it is offered to the general public. Thus, currently, technically everything posted on a website needs to be sent in to the LoC on CD-ROM. Of course they better hope that people don't actually do it or they'll be flooded.

yvanleterrible
07-13-2007, 11:40 AM
By the way (and this is a bit off-topic), I once looked at the LoC regulations for filing copies. As far as I can tell, currently anything posted on a public website counts as "published", since it is offered to the general public. Thus, currently, technically everything posted on a website needs to be sent in to the LoC on CD-ROM. Of course they better hope that people don't actually do it or they'll be flooded.

In Québec there is a law requiring authors to provide, at their own expense, a certain number of copies to the "Bibliothèque Nationale", of every published work; papers, magazines and books.

pruss
07-13-2007, 11:41 AM
I've always been slightly curious why it is that people feel that copyright protection should be somehow "different" from protection for "physical" entities (like widget-making factories). Writing is just as much "real work" as manufacturing widgets - why should one not be able to carry on earning income from such a thing after the death of the originator as one can with any other type of business?

In writing one book or manufacturing a single widget, one puts in a certain finite amount of effort. One can only profit a single finite amount from manufacturing a single widget (a large amount if the widget is a sattelite and a small amount if the widget is a shoelace). But if copyright were perpetual, then one could profit and profit and profit forever from a single finite amount of effort.

Of course one can set up a system for perpetual profit out of widget manufacturing: one sets up a corporation that manufactures widgets. But notice that there is continuing work involved--more and more widgets need to be made. But with a perpetual copyright system, one could in theory make money continually with close to zero effort put in for the continuation. (It's true that one has to keep on making copies, but the cost of that, at least in the case of electronic copies, is miniscule.)

By writing a book, one is (sometimes at least) benefiting society. Society pays one for this service by prohibiting others from copying the book for a finite amount of time without one's permission. That seems like a fair price for the service on the average.

HarryT
07-13-2007, 12:03 PM
In writing one book or manufacturing a single widget, one puts in a certain finite amount of effort. One can only profit a single finite amount from manufacturing a single widget (a large amount if the widget is a sattelite and a small amount if the widget is a shoelace). But if copyright were perpetual, then one could profit and profit and profit forever from a single finite amount of effort.


But you can "profit and profit and profit forever" from the single effort of buying shares in a company. Should we ban the stock market on the grounds that it allows people to profit without doing any work?

Azayzel
07-13-2007, 12:09 PM
Ahh, the ethics of a digital, non-physical world start to take shape... One thing that's really going to suck about digital editions is that you cannot turn around and trade it at a local shop for another used edition. The same goes for MP3 collections. They've tricked us all into thinking we're getting a great deal on this things, though unbeknownst to us we have lost the ability to get any type of ROI for when we want to lighten our load (though it's not like there's any physical space being taken up).

Nope, I'll stick with my own set of ethical values and occassionally see where others have placed theirs.

HarryT
07-13-2007, 12:19 PM
Nope, I'll stick with my own set of ethical values and occassionally see where others have placed theirs.

If that means breaking the law (and I'm not for a moment suggesting that you are), that brings up the question of whether we have a moral right to break laws that we disagree with.

Isn't one of the duties of being a citizen in a democracy to obey all the laws, not just those that we happen to agree with?

IMHO, if one thinks that a law is unjust, one should fight to change it using the appropriate judicial process, not simply say "I don't agree with that law, so I'm not going to obey it".

Imagine the chaos if everyone in society decided on an individual basis which laws they were going to obey and which they weren't.

If one does think that a law is unjust and decide to disobey it "on principle" then surely one should have the "guts" to do so openly and accept whatever the punishment is, rather than break it secretly and furtively, and then claim some sort of "moral superiority" for having done so, don't you think?

JSWolf
07-13-2007, 12:24 PM
But what about if you own the dead tree edition and you want an ebook version, but there is no version available for purchase for your device or to convert and you find a copy of said book on the net. I know it's illegal to download this, but is it unethical? I think not since you did pay for the paper copy and you are unable to purchase an official ebook. What do the rest of you feel?

volwrath
07-13-2007, 12:26 PM
But you can "profit and profit and profit forever" from the single effort of buying shares in a company. Should we ban the stock market on the grounds that it allows people to profit without doing any work?

Thats not a fair comparison, because the individual in question buys shares with money..and that initial investment (and subsequent profits) is constantly at risk.

NatCh
07-13-2007, 12:54 PM
...and that initial investment (and subsequent profits) is constantly at risk. ... and is dependent on the continuing efforts of the company in making whatever it makes. :nice:

JSWolf
07-13-2007, 01:35 PM
It all simply boils down to paying the author for his or her work. Everyone wants to get paid for what they produce. It is up to the author to give away freebies. It is not for others to decide that the author can afford to lose book profits.

If I were an author and someone was stealing my book profits by posting ebooks then it would sure sour me on the idea of publishing in the electronic arena.
A lot of the "stolen" books found on the net were scanned. So do you no longer want to have a dead tree edition because they can be scanned?

bingle
07-13-2007, 03:34 PM
Thanks for the book tip. I enjoy Hogan.

Reminds me of a book I read long ago, title obscured by the mists of time, where the inhabitants (nonhuman I think) had an economy of "obs" (obligations). They would do something for you very freely and generously and thereby accumulate "obs", a system of credit. It was very interesting how beings in this economy resisted having anything done for them and made every effort to do for others.

Anyone remember the book?

I don't think it's the book you're thinking of, but Cory Doctorow wrote about a similar concept, called "Whuffie" in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It's a society where scarcity and death have been eliminated, and people's worth is based entirely on their reputation (which is quantified and instantly viewable by anyone.)

bingle
07-13-2007, 03:48 PM
But you can "profit and profit and profit forever" from the single effort of buying shares in a company. Should we ban the stock market on the grounds that it allows people to profit without doing any work?

I don't think the concept that causes problems is profiting without doing any work. It's more in the difference between most work and IP creation. If I am a plumber, and install a toilet in your house, should I be paid for the act of installing the toilet, or should I be paid each time you use that toilet? Copyright is more like the latter, currently. A creator is paid not for the initial creation, but each time someone wishes to use that creation in the future.

I'm not saying that isn't fair, I'm just pointing out that it *is* different.

Why is it different? Well, for a long time people have realized that ideas are easy to copy, while physical objects aren't. (Provided you're not from Star Trek, of course...) That made it so that people wanted to keep their ideas secret. If a person came up with a good way for making steel, or violins, or gnocchi, they would only pass it on to people they trusted, late in life (usually an apprentice).
But, if the person with the idea died without passing it on, that idea was lost forever, obviously a bad thing for a society that loved gnocchi. To combat this, people came up with a compromise: in order to get people with ideas to share them with everyone, they would get the sole right to profit from that work for a period of time. Afterwards, of course, it has to go to the public domain, otherwise the point is lost. But for that time period, the creator has a monopoly on the idea.

So really, it's not that the "natural order of things" is that someone should get paid for having an idea, that's a construct put in place in order to encourage growing the field of ideas. It seems to have worked fairly well, too, until an invention that made it even easier to share ephemeral things...

Leaping Gnome
07-13-2007, 05:33 PM
. If a person came up with a good way for making steel, or violins, or gnocchi, they would only pass it on to people they trusted, late in life (usually an apprentice).

That would be called a patent, and have nothing to do with copyrights. In these discussions it seems a lot of times people mix up patents vs copyrights vs trademarks.

NatCh
07-13-2007, 05:47 PM
Actually, the point he's making is the one, admittedly narrow, aspect where patents and copyrights overlap, LG. :nice:

The method or technique for making, say gnocchi, is extremely easy to duplicate from one person to another. Write it down and post it on the internet and the whole world's making gnocchi. But if Luigi has a patent on gnocchi, then others have to get his permission to make it the same way.

The patent doesn't protect the thing itself, it protects the intellectual property of how the thing is made.

In the case of copyrighted works such as a book, the story is the thing and the physical book is just packaging (which is, of course, why e-books are even possible). The design of say, a turbine, on the other hand, is something that someone else with the necessary skills can look at and say, "yeah, I can build that."

The spark of coming up with the how in the first place is what's protected by the patent. What the patent does is prohibit others from doing the same thing in the same way for a period of time. They can come up with a different way to do the same thing, but if they do it the same way (even if they came up with it on their own) they infringe the patent (which is why patent searches are such a pain in the sitter-downer).

That may be part of why so many folks confuse patents and copyrights. :shrug:

bingle
07-13-2007, 09:01 PM
That would be called a patent, and have nothing to do with copyrights. In these discussions it seems a lot of times people mix up patents vs copyrights vs trademarks.


Yes, definitely. There are also trade secrets in there, as well (which are more like the original "I'll pass it to my apprentice" way of doing things). I was actually not discussing copyright per se, but the notion of Intellectual Property vs. Actual Property. (Since the motivation behind Patents and Copyright, at least, is similar).

It's correct to point out that books are subject to copyright, not patent, law. But the progression from the wild'n'crazy IP-free days is more clearly explained using patents, I think. At the root, they're both limited-time monopolies on the fruits of an idea.

Azayzel
07-14-2007, 12:14 AM
If that means breaking the law (and I'm not for a moment suggesting that you are), that brings up the question of whether we have a moral right to break laws that we disagree with.

and that's the rub Harry. There are so many gray areas that abound within law, especially regarding digital content, that many chose to read in what they will. As for what's legal or not, most laws that come into effect regarding copyright and digital content aren't necessarily to protect the original creators so much as to ensure companies can capitalize on the laws as much as possible (who do you think funds the people who put the laws into stone?).

Here's an exercise in thought regarding laws, suppose you're a citizen of a country where it's not legal to convert your paper content into a digital format. Later in life you choose to move to a country, and become a citizen of said country, where there exists no such law. For that matter, said country does not accept many so-called international laws concerning copyright, so it is freely legal in that country to convert what you want. While you have been brought up in a country where it's been *morally* wrong to do such a thing, you now live in a country where it isn't. Who's to say you're wrong for doing such a thing now?

For that matter, I've been to countries where you can freely buy disks and DVD's full of computer software, music, and videos well within the legal constraints of that country. While you may not be able to legally bring the purchased goods into your original country, you paid for them in a country where it was legal to do so. Do you just take a loss and throw them away? I'm not advocating piracy in the least, I'm merely pointing out that in some countries there are no laws limiting what is considered to be piracy in other countries. :tired:

EatingPie
07-14-2007, 12:15 AM
In some of the societies in which I have lived public morality is contingent upon consanguinity. If you are my brother I will treat you with all the care and honesty of which I am capable. If you are a stranger you can count on me cheating you if I am able. This is a fact of life in countries with high populations and pervasive poverty. Public morality is, unfortunately a luxury of affluence.


I know you're making a different point, but I think something is important to say here.

The public vs. private morality is a form of moral relativism. Morals change based on who, what, where you're dealing. I want to note, however, that the OP, DeusEXMe, brought up serving God. In this case, we are NOT dealing with moral relativism, but universal morality -- and thus if it's wrong to do something to your brother, it's wrong to do it to a stranger. This isn't a function of affluence, it's a universal function, applicable across the board.

To whit, let me make it applicable to this situation, as it WAS part of the OP.

Let's say a rich person who downloads a stranger's e-book without paying is wrong. How can it be right for a poor person to do the same? Saying "it's okay because they can't afford it" is actually justification.

So I fully disagree with this "function of affluence" argument. Certainly there are 3rd World countries (China in particular) pirating DVDs like mad, and it's facilitated by the relative cheapness of the DVDs and the relative poverty of the people. That does not mean it's okay. It's still piracy, and still -- ultimately -- wrong. The same would go for e-books.

-Pie

EatingPie
07-14-2007, 12:38 AM
I think there are a lot of interesting issues here.

It seems like the motivations for paying for a digital copy of the book are mostly along the lines of supporting the author. But as others have pointed out, authors don't get any support from used book sales, library loans, or books borrowed from a friend.

Authors (and publishers) know these parameters as part of the current legal system. And they still choose to create works even under these parameters.

If you, as a reader, used to get your books from these sources, does downloading free ebooks now change the issue? and if you don't download free ebooks, what did this change about your book reading habits/budget?

Yes, because now the parameters have changed. Maybe not for YOU as a reader, but for the authors and publishers. Still, is that fair for the author, as they created their work without agreeing to this particular form of usage?

And, in some cases, does the current status of the author matter? Does a dead author need support, or does J.K. Rowling?

Once again, I turn to justification. For example, who gave US the right to decide if J.K. Rowling needs the support or not? And if she's so talented that she creates an absolutely astounding work, isn't it fair she be compensated proportionally? After all, basketball stars are compensated in proportion to their talent.

In terms of dead authors... I'm an Engineer. I have a 401K, and I have retirement benefits, including life insurance. When I die, I know my family will be supported.

Under the current economics of publishing, authors do NOT receive 401Ks, retirement benefits or life insurance through their publishers. The author supports themselves and their family purely through the money from their books. Is it fair to say to those authors that, once they die, their family loses all benefits from their work?

-Pie

EatingPie
07-14-2007, 12:50 AM
Now away from theory and on to reality.

It's hard to compete with free!

This is the WHOLE reason MP3s took off, and why the Internet is rife with movie downloads as well. I find it hard to resist downloading stuff I haven't paid for, even ebooks.

I saw the mention of "slippery slope" earlier in the thread, and I think this one is like a well-greased slide propped at 90%. If people can get stuff for free, rather than pay, it's VERY DIFFICULT to pay. Especially when there's very little value-added by paying -- and as MP3s prove, removing LOTS of value (diminished sound quality), free still wins.

The reason e-book downloads haven't taken off is that it SUCKS reading on a computer screen. Now with the advent of e-Ink, we will start to see more and more "book piracy" than before... assuming people adopt the technology.

-Pie

mogui
07-14-2007, 01:27 AM
If that means breaking the law (and I'm not for a moment suggesting that you are), that brings up the question of whether we have a moral right to break laws that we disagree with.

Isn't one of the duties of being a citizen in a democracy to obey all the laws, not just those that we happen to agree with?

IMHO, if one thinks that a law is unjust, one should fight to change it using the appropriate judicial process, not simply say "I don't agree with that law, so I'm not going to obey it".

Imagine the chaos if everyone in society decided on an individual basis which laws they were going to obey and which they weren't.

If one does think that a law is unjust and decide to disobey it "on principle" then surely one should have the "guts" to do so openly and accept whatever the punishment is, rather than break it secretly and furtively, and then claim some sort of "moral superiority" for having done so, don't you think?
Someone, I forget who, once said that in a democracy it is the citizen's responsibility to break those laws with which he disagrees. Granted, it is an extreme position. There are many who, I think, would be moved to break certain laws on principle were it not for the fact that only the wealthy are able to prevail in court. When last I was involved (peripherally) in litigation, it was the suits with the $500 an hour lawyers who made the rules and walked away with the stuffed panda. It is not "guts" that is needed, but money. So we are left with a sort of guerrilla mentality where netizens take little bites out of the system wherever they can. The only answer to this that I can think of is to devise systems that are perceived as fair.
The public vs. private morality is a form of moral relativism. Morals change based on who, what, where you're dealing. I want to note, however, that the OP, DeusEXMe, brought up serving God. In this case, we are NOT dealing with moral relativism, but universal morality -- and thus if it's wrong to do something to your brother, it's wrong to do it to a stranger. This isn't a function of affluence, it's a universal function, applicable across the board.

To whit, let me make it applicable to this situation, as it WAS part of the OP.

Let's say a rich person who downloads a stranger's e-book without paying is wrong. How can it be right for a poor person to do the same? Saying "it's okay because they can't afford it" is actually justification.

So I fully disagree with this "function of affluence" argument. Certainly there are 3rd World countries (China in particular) pirating DVDs like mad, and it's facilitated by the relative cheapness of the DVDs and the relative poverty of the people. That does not mean it's okay. It's still piracy, and still -- ultimately -- wrong. The same would go for e-books.

-Pie
You are absolutely right. It is difficult to convince the world's poor of that however. I suspect that equality is the basis of compliance -- morally and legally.

slayda
07-14-2007, 10:49 AM
I want to note, however, that the OP, DeusEXMe, brought up serving God. In this case, we are NOT dealing with moral relativism, but universal morality -- and thus if it's wrong to do something to your brother, it's wrong to do it to a stranger. This isn't a function of affluence, it's a universal function, applicable across the board.

-Pie

Ah but to which god(s) -- there is the rub and the relativism that is not universal. The morality of your god may be quite different from mine and definitely different from the atheist's god (or whatever is substituted of his god). So morality is relative, even among those who profess to serve the same god.

HarryT
07-14-2007, 11:03 AM
For that matter, I've been to countries where you can freely buy disks and DVD's full of computer software, music, and videos well within the legal constraints of that country. While you may not be able to legally bring the purchased goods into your original country, you paid for them in a country where it was legal to do so. Do you just take a loss and throw them away?

Let's substitute "drugs" for "disks and CDs" in that sentence.

There are countries where you can legally buy drugs that are considered illegal in many other countries. Eg, suppose you visited Amsterdam, went into a "coffee shop" there, and bought some marihuana. Perfectly legal to do that in Amsterdam. Would you consider it morally acceptable to smuggle it into the US on the grounds that you'd bought it legally in Holland?

slayda
07-14-2007, 11:12 AM
Someone, I forget who, once said that in a democracy it is the citizen's responsibility to break those laws with which he disagrees. Granted, it is an extreme position.

Although I do not live in a democracy (I live in a republic), I - and I believe everyone else - find a certain agreement in this concept. In the US's history, slavery has been legal and serving alcoholic beverages has been illegal. Both of these laws were blatantly violated and have since been repealed/changed.

Even in a true democracy, must we be restricted by laws with which we disagree? Normally we accept the ones we consider bad because the good ones out weigh the bad, at least for us. Whether we think a law is good or bad is a very relative thing depending on our status in our society. Thus as you say, mogui, it is a product of the affluent. The affluent may not mean strictly monetary affluence but might be those with an affluence of customs, concepts, prestige, societal position, etc. This often changes as one grows older and becomes more established in their society - i.e. has invested more into the society's morality and laws or, stated another way, has become more affluent.

Bottom line is you have to live with yourself so your own morality always counts strongly regardless of where your morality originated - from parents teaching, religious concepts, or some innate since of right & wrong (assuming such can be innate). But we all live in some sort of society which also imposes its morality on us to some extent.

So do what you think is right and don't get caught by your neighbors.

HarryT
07-14-2007, 11:22 AM
Although I do not live in a democracy (I live in a republic)...

Huh? A Republic is a state in which supreme power rests with the people. It is, therefore, a form of democracy. Whatever makes you think that republican forms of government are not democracies?

volwrath
07-14-2007, 12:00 PM
Huh? A Republic is a state in which supreme power rests with the people. It is, therefore, a form of democracy. Whatever makes you think that republican forms of government are not democracies?

A republic is not a form of democracy. Democracy is mob rules. A Republic protects the minority as well. Just look at the election results of Bush/Gore. Gore took the popular vote but did not win the election.

Here (http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=3388) is the first link I pulled up on Google


Of course I would argue that the US is moving away from a republic and towards a democracy.

edit: Actually HarryT and Natch you are right, the US is a representative democracy which is technically a form of democracy...

NatCh
07-14-2007, 12:03 PM
Huh? A Republic is a state in which supreme power rests with the people. It is, therefore, a form of democracy. Whatever makes you think that republican forms of government are not democracies?It depends on how you define "democracy." :shrug:

In its purest definition, often called a direct democracy, it's a method of governing where everyone votes on everything, and a simple majority rules. I don't think that there's any government that works that way at the moment. If there is, I expect it'll implode in due course.

In the U.S. we have a "liberal democracy" in the sense that everyone that meets a set of extremely not stringent requirements is allowed to vote. (I still don't understand how showing photo ID to prove who you are before you vote is an undue burden on a voter. :dunno:)

But functionally, what we really have here is more of a representative democracy, where we directly vote to elect representatives to go off and, theoretically, do things in the government that they folks back home will agree with.


The real problem with a direct democracy is that there are more stupid people than smart ones, and if everyone gets an equal say, all you do is guarantee that the stupid thing gets done. :unafraid:

(Please note that while I may not be one of the smart people, I am smart enough not to say which group I belong in. :grin:)

NatCh
07-14-2007, 12:04 PM
Of course I would argue that the US is moving away from a republic and towards a democracy.And I'd agree with you. U.S. Senators used to be chosen by the State Legislatures, for example, now they're a direct election.

HarryT
07-14-2007, 12:42 PM
In its purest definition, often called a direct democracy, it's a method of governing where everyone votes on everything, and a simple majority rules. I don't think that there's any government that works that way at the moment. If there is, I expect it'll implode in due course.


No, it doesn't work for large, modern countries.

Democracy was invented in the 5th century BC in the city-state of Athens, and there it worked pretty well. It was direct rule by the demos - the people - but to be a member of the demos you had a be a male Athenian citizen over the age of 30 and there were never more than approximately 30,000 such people.

The Athenians themselves recognised that direct democracy was impractical when the size of the demos exceeded about 100,000 people.

EatingPie
07-14-2007, 02:02 PM
Ah but to which god(s) -- there is the rub and the relativism that is not universal. The morality of your god may be quite different from mine and definitely different from the atheist's god (or whatever is substituted of his god). So morality is relative, even among those who profess to serve the same god.

Not to take us too far afield....

The God I referred to was the God as the OP cited, which I made sure to specify.

I don't know if this helps but as Francis Schaeffer argues, morality exists if and only if there's an Infinite Personal God -- note that his specification of "Infinite Personal" is imperative. Lacking a reference point, we have pure moral relativism, but then morality doesn't actually exist at all. For example, if I say murder is moral for me, you have no way to argue against that.

Sadly, I don't think legal electronic editions of Schaeffer's books are out, so you'd have to buy the paperbacks and scan them or download from the "darknet" -- which may or may not be ethical! :)

-Pie

EatingPie
07-14-2007, 02:24 PM
It depends on how you define "democracy." :shrug:
The real problem with a direct democracy is that there are more stupid people than smart ones, and if everyone gets an equal say, all you do is guarantee that the stupid thing gets done. :unafraid:

Interesting discussion on democracy, however I definitely don't agree with this statement.

I have some very conservative friends who said "idiots voted for Clinton," forgetting, I hope, for the moment that I had voted for Clinton. Some liberal friends said exactly the same "how stupid did you have to be to vote for Bush" hoping once again, that they overlooked my vote for Bush when lumping me in with the "stupids." (True story!)

Basically, in politics, I've come to the conclusion that "stupid people" are the ones who don't agree with you (or me).

In terms of true "stupidity" I just don't think that many people are mentally deficient. Uneducated, possibly, but not mentally incapable of making sound decisions -- as even the uneducated can form valid political opinions.

I think a much larger problem with democracy today has become the legal jargon in laws. I vote "no" on the vast majority of laws in my state simply because I cannot figure them out, and I know many laws get passed with hidden stipulations. For example, "The Telecomunications Decency Act" used as a hook to pass "The Telecommunications Act" of which it was a part. I don't think this is a function of my stupidity (though my liberal and conservative friends may disagree :) ), but a function of laws gone mad... or "lawyer hell" as I like to put it.

In terms of Copyright Law -- which would need to be changed for us to be able to legally download texts freely -- the problem is more complex. The economic factor is the greater influence on the law here. Authors won't make money if everyone legally downloaded their work for free -- same goes for movies and music. To change the law, we first must change the "economics of the arts" -- to, say, a comission-based system as employed in the 1700s for Classical Music (the king would comission a work from Mozart, or employ Haydn as court composer). This way, the artist can eat, pay rent, and send their kids to school, and we can enjoy the artists work freely.

But, as it stands, the artist gets payed on a per-sales basis, and copyright law exists to protect that. When those economics change, copyright law might change.

-Pie

yvanleterrible
07-14-2007, 03:06 PM
Democracy's a farce!

If you have lost your elections at some time you will have felt the dictatorship of democracy as in where 51% of those who voted, actually less than 30% of a population, rule everything.:nana:

slayda
07-14-2007, 04:07 PM
Not to take us too far afield....

as Francis Schaeffer argues, morality exists if and only if there's an Infinite Personal God -- note that his specification of "Infinite Personal" is imperative.
-Pie

This is a circular argument used by those in religious circles (no pun intended) to prove the existence of god. Once accepted it follows that since there is morality then there in an infinite personal god - QED. However every religion claims god as their very own, implying that the remainder of humanity is therefore immoral.

slayda
07-14-2007, 04:11 PM
In the U.S. we have a "liberal democracy" in the sense that everyone that meets a set of extremely not stringent requirements is allowed to vote.

Nate, this is of course why our "Pledge of allegiance" states in part "... and to the liberal democracy for which it stands", or did I misquote?:unafraid:

NatCh
07-14-2007, 04:21 PM
It depends on how you define "democracy." :shrug:
The real problem with a direct democracy is that there are more stupid people than smart ones, and if everyone gets an equal say, all you do is guarantee that the stupid thing gets done. :unafraid:

Interesting discussion on democracy, however I definitely don't agree with this statement.Well, since I meant it tongue in cheek (sorry, should have been clearer about that), I'm not particularly bothered by your disagreeing with it. :nice:

I also agree that it's a gross oversimplification of the situation. Your quite correct that intellectual capabilities aren't the problem it's more lack of information. Of course it often seems that there's some sort of deliberate action toward making it hard to get that information. You mention the laws which are so complicated that no one can follow them enough to know whether you want to support them or not. It's an excellent example of the phenomenon.

Normal, honest people, who actively want to do the right thing simply don't have the time and energy needed to wade through all that rubbish to figure out what that right thing might be. They're too busy wish being self sufficient.

I'd like to see some of the effort to make voting a non-effort put towards making the information needed to make an informed decision more accessible.

I have to spend hours each election just figuring out what races I'll be voting in, and that's before I even start to research the actual issues. There's just no good reason for it to be so difficult.

EatingPie
07-14-2007, 11:07 PM
This is a circular argument used by those in religious circles (no pun intended) to prove the existence of god. Once accepted it follows that since there is morality then there in an infinite personal god - QED. However every religion claims god as their very own, implying that the remainder of humanity is therefore immoral.

This is not the only piece of evidence for an Infinite Personal God. Schaeffer develops a three-fold argument, morality being the easiest to discuss in circles like these -- and it just happened to be closely on-topic. Also, an "iff" statement is not a circular argument, it's a logical construct.

Now, while I absolutely understand your problem with "every religion claim god as their own" that does not preclude the existence of an Infinite Personal God. Nor would I even count it as evidence [i]against an Infinite Personal God.

As Mark Knopfler so eloquently put it "Two of them claim their Jesus / One of them must be lying." Note that he doesn't say two of them must be lying. :) Yes, I'm being both silly and serious at the same time... the serious part being that someone being wrong about God doesn't make everyone wrong about God.

Are we far enough afield yet? :)

-Pie

EatingPie
07-14-2007, 11:11 PM
Well, since I meant it tongue in cheek (sorry, should have been clearer about that), I'm not particularly bothered by your disagreeing with it. :nice:

I suspected, but wasn't entirely sure... But since it gave me a chance to shoot my mouth (fingers) off, I couldn't resist responding! :)

I fully agree with your post.

-Pie

nekokami
07-15-2007, 10:48 PM
HarryT asked:
Tell me, if you started a business manufacturing widgets, do you think it unreasonable that you should be allowed to pass on your widget-making business to your descendents as a part of your estate? Would you say that 70 years after your death all rights to that business should be forcibly taken away from your descendents, and that they should no longer be able to gain any profit from it?
Um... I don't think very much should be passed on to my descendents at all, unless they're minors at the time I die and incapable of supporting themselves. Items with sentimental value, ok, but not gobs of money or property or whatever. I realize that I'm very much in the minority on that one, though.
Should we ban the stock market on the grounds that it allows people to profit without doing any work?
Well... since you asked... yes. But again, I don't expect most people to agree with me on this. :shrug:

nekokami
07-16-2007, 09:28 AM
Voyage From Yesteryear (http://www.amazon.com/Voyage-Yesteryear-James-P-Hogan/dp/0671577980/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-2940474-5661559?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1184296915&sr=8-1), by James P. Hogan.
I've read it. Several times. :) Thanks!

NatCh
07-16-2007, 12:45 PM
I've read it. Several times. :) Thanks!Heh, that suggests that you liked it. :grin:

I've only read it once so far, but I fully expect to read it again, likely several times. :pleased:

Egghead
07-19-2007, 03:18 PM
If I understand U.S. law correctly, if you purchase a work in one format, you can convert it to any other format you'd like for your own personal use, right? So if I buy a Harry Potter book in dead tree format, I can read an electronic version on my computer while the paper book is sitting in my closet, correct? Here's my question, then: If I purchase the U.S. version in paper format, is it acceptable to have the British version on my computer - or must they be the exact same version? (Some of the informal speech actually needed to be translated between the cultures, as there are some major differences in colloquial meanings.)

bingle
07-19-2007, 03:45 PM
If I understand U.S. law correctly, if you purchase a work in one format, you can convert it to any other format you'd like for your own personal use, right?


This has been discussed a lot recently! I think, actually, that this is still a legal gray area - a while ago, attorney Ray Beckerman (http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/) stated that the legality of format shifting CDs hasn't actually been established one way or another. The record industry apparently doesn't want to assert it, for fear they'll lose.

There was a recent case involving DVD ripping by a video server company that's analogous - they were allowing users to rip their movies to a server, which then could play back the content without the original disc. The DVD CCA (Copy Control Association) sued them, and lost.

Unfortunately, the case wasn't about the legal right to copy one's own content to a different format, but rather about the contract that the company had signed with the DVD CCA. So it wasn't a DMCA- or Copyright Act-based challenge, and has no implications for those laws.

There's a whole thread here (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11994) about the ethical implications of format shifting as it relates to books. Basically, some people think it's not OK, some people think it's only OK if you own the original book, some people think it's only OK if there's no legal digital version, and some people think that it's always OK. ;-)

Edit: Here's an article about format-shifting. Obviously, it has a strong point of view on the ethics, but he does discuss, a little bit, the legal landscape. http://newmusicstrategies.com/2006/11/02/format-shifting-for-criminals/

JSWolf
07-19-2007, 04:00 PM
Threads merged since they are on the same topic.

slayda
07-19-2007, 05:58 PM
Leaving DMCA aside for a moment, if format shifting is illegal then commercial TV & radio are violating the law. The format that TV starts with might be a live action, which is format shifted to electronic signals, beamed through a cable or the air, formated shifted again to electronic signals, format shifted again to photons & sound waves for me to see & hear it.

I admit this is a little far fetched, but from a literal view, format shifting does take place. (Apologies to those better educated in electronics & video broadcasting/receiving for any inaccuracies I've committed.) So where is the line appropriately drawn for the legality of "format shifting"?

I'm sure many of you can think of several other equally ridiculous ways that we accept, both legally and ethically, format shifting without even thinking about it.

bingle
07-19-2007, 06:57 PM
I'm sure many of you can think of several other equally ridiculous ways that we accept, both legally and ethically, format shifting without even thinking about it.

Well, true. Except that the companies that do all this "format shifting" have licenses to do so, even if they were "format shifting". (Although, while I don't think format shifting has been referred to in a legal sense, the term is meant to draw an analogy to the time-shifting referenced in the landmark Sony vs. Universal "Betamax" case. So I don't think it's a technical definition of changing formats, more just a general term for the ripping of CDs to MP3s, DVDs to AVIs, and BOOKs to TXTs ;-))

mogui
08-02-2007, 09:40 AM
Here is how this topic evolved. See further for links.
Thanks for the book tip. I enjoy Hogan.

Reminds me of a book I read long ago, title obscured by the mists of time, where the inhabitants (nonhuman I think) had an economy of "obs" (obligations). They would do something for you very freely and generously and thereby accumulate "obs", a system of credit. It was very interesting how beings in this economy resisted having anything done for them and made every effort to do for others.

Anyone remember the book?

I am thinking it is a short story with human inhabitants. Do "Anti-Gand" and "MYOB" ring a bell? I don't know where I saw it.

from here (http://zhurnal.net/ww/zw?MyOb).

The story is here (http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.htm). And the novel is described here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Explosion) and the novel is here (http://tmh.floonet.net/books/tge/chapter1.html). I think it is legal as it is linked by Wikipedia. Guess what I'm reading next!

OK. I read it (again).

I read the 12 chapter novel found at the link above. A Terran space vessel is traversing a sector of the galaxy with the purpose of establishing alliances with old human colonies when the come upon the world of the Gands.

This is a novel of ideas that seeks to challenge some of our social values. The Gands are followers of Gandhi who practice passive resistance, otherwise known as civil disobedience. The Terrans are hoping to rope them into an alliance but their coercive methods gain them no result. Meanwhile the crew of the starship are melting into the population because the Gand's social system is so attractive.

The novel explores the nature of freedom. What, I wonder, pops into your head when you want to offer a simple definition of freedom? Russell's ideas are inspirational. The memory of this book, however vague, remained with me over many years as a sense of excitement. Now I know why!

wgrimm
08-03-2007, 11:03 AM
[QUOTE=HarryT;80024]That is for you to decide. It's certainly illegal. Whether or not it's unethical is a question that only you can answer. My personal view - and I'm certainly not condoning piracy - is that where an eBook is available commercially, one should purchase it. In cases where no commercial eBook is available, but one has purchased a paper copy of the book, it's down to the moral values of the individual to decide whether any "harm" is done to anyone by downloading that eBook, but don't kid yourself that it's legal - it ain't. "


Transforming a book one owns into an e-book for personal use is not "certainly illegal," according to the research that I have done regarding Fair Use. It looks like it is indeed legal to make an electronic copy of a book you own for Personal Use only. Here is what the SFWA''s elctronic piracy faq (at www.sfwa.org/epiracy/faq.htm) says about the subject:

"If you own a legitimate copy of the book (paperback, hardback, other electronic format), you could scan the book and make your own electronic copy for your personal use only. Arguably you don't get a free paperback copy when you buy a hardback of a book, so an electronic copy isn't a freebie, but if you make an e-copy for yourself of a book you own, the author is probably not going to have a conniption. But you can't give that e-copy to another person who doesn't own it (unless you give them all your copies, both that physical one plus all electronic ones, so you no longer have any (unless you, for example, had bought another copy -- there are of course convoluted circumstances, but it's common sense at the core: You can't go creating copies for new people)). "

What the SFWA says agrees with what I have read regarding Fair Use. I can't believe you would suggest that a person should go out and BUY an electronic copy of a book they already own- that would be extremely moronic.

HarryT
08-03-2007, 11:07 AM
You are, I would guess, talking about American law. I'm talking about British law. Under UK copyright law, it is illegal to scan a book, even if you've bought a paper version of it.

I have bought numerous books in multiple formats - I guess I must be a moron :).

wgrimm
08-03-2007, 03:31 PM
You are, I would guess, talking about American law. I'm talking about British law. Under UK copyright law, it is illegal to scan a book, even if you've bought a paper version of it.

I have bought numerous books in multiple formats - I guess I must be a moron :).


Stuff like this is why the Americans revolted <G>. Didn't mean to imply you were a moron- British copyright law (which America cheerfully ignored for many years) sounds repressive.

HarryT
08-04-2007, 05:26 AM
I'm afraid I just don't understand why you consider that owning a paper copy of a book gives you a "right" to an electronic copy free of charge.

If I buy a hardback version of a book, which I want to keep safely at home, and decide that I want a paperback version to take away with me which I won't worry about getting bashed around, I have to go out and buy that paperback - I'm not entitled to get one "free" just because I've bought the hardback. I've done exactly that with my favourite books on several occasions.

Why do you think that an eBook is any different? Why should the fact that I've bought a hardback or paperback version of a book entitle me to an electronic version of that book free of charge? Just like I have to buy a paperback although I already own a hardback, surely I should pay for an eBook if I want that, shouldn't I? It's an identical situation.

Your comment that:

I can't believe you would suggest that a person should go out and BUY an electronic copy of a book they already own- that would be extremely moronic.

is exactly this situation. Could you explain why you believe that owning a hardware or a paperback gives you a right to a "free" eBook?

nekokami
08-04-2007, 02:48 PM
HarryT, it may be cultural. A few years back, we had the same discussion in the US about whether one needed to purchase a cassette tape of an album one already owned in another format (vinyl, at the time), e.g. for listening in the car. The courts ruled, I believe, that we were entitled to make a "listening copy" for personal use only, to protect the original. Extending this custom to ebooks for paper books seems only natural based on our customs. I can appreciate that this doesn't seem natural to you-- as you commented in another thread, what seems natural or normal in one culture can seem quite out of place in another.

I make a point of paying for the books I read, either by buying copies or by supporting my local library through taxes (in the case of books I borrow from the library). But I would be willing to pay for an ebook version of a book I already owned in paper, only if it came with additional content of some kind, e.g. interviews with the author, interesting reviews or analyses, chapters of other books I might be interested in, etc. Otherwise, yes, if I have paid for a paper copy, I don't believe I should have to pay for a digital copy of the same book. (Realizing that publishers do incur a cost in generating digital copies, I don't think they are obligated to provide me with a digital copy just because I purchased a paper copy, but I don't believe they are entitled to prevent me from acquiring my own, either.) I think my attitude is fairly typical of those in my culture, and is supported by legal precedent in my country. But I can appreciate that your viewpoint is different.

Note that by this reasoning, audio renditions of books count as "extra content," as they involve a performance by one or more voice artists. Similarly, translations of books involve the effort of a translator. I would not assume that owning a paper book automatically entitled me to the audio book or a translation of a book, any more than I would expect to be entitled to a free copy of a movie based on a book I own. I would expect to pay for those.

andym
08-04-2007, 03:06 PM
(Speaking as a Brit)I agree with you, nekokami. UK copyright law is out of step with the US and with the rest of Europe on the question of 'fair use'. See this article here (http://www.out-law.com/page-6919).

HarryT
08-05-2007, 11:58 AM
Hi Andy,

One may well argue that making your own copy of a book or a CD that you own, for strictly personal use, is a legitimate definition of "fair use". Surely, though, you wouldn't accept that uploading such a copy to the internet, where it could be downloaded by anybody, regardless of whether or not they owned it, is either "morally" or legally acceptable, would you?

It is the uploaders who are the true criminals, not the downloaders. Let people rip their own CDs or scan their own books - that would be a perfectly reasonable extension of the UK's "Fair Use" laws, IMHO - but I believe that uploaders should be legally persued and prosecuted with the full severity of the law.

nekokami
08-05-2007, 08:15 PM
It is the uploaders who are the true criminals, not the downloaders. Let people rip their own CDs or scan their own books - that would be a perfectly reasonable extension of the UK's "Fair Use" laws, IMHO - but I believe that uploaders should be legally persued and prosecuted with the full severity of the law.
As it happens, I believe the US legal system agrees with you. Certainly the RIAA does. They've been going after uploaders, not downloaders.

It would be interesting if there were a way to operate a system that could somehow verify ownership of a paper copy before allowing a download of the matching digital title. I suppose one could scan or type in the ISBN and click a check box affirming that one owns a copy of the work in question. It wouldn't be "proof" of ownership, but uploading to such a system might have a different legal status than uploading a torrent to a typical torrent tracking site, etc., because one could claim that one assumed that only those who were entitled to "fair use" copies would be able to legitimately download the files.

The point at which I do feel the legal system and ethics diverge is regarding out of print titles. I strongly feel that if a copyright owner refuses to exercise their copyright, they should lose the protection that copyright provides. Disney and the rest of the content cartel disagree with me on that one, though, and they have the funds to lobby to make sure the laws go their way. :(

mogui
08-05-2007, 10:39 PM
Many peer-to-peer networks are designed so that a downloader is automatically an uploader. One is encouraged to keep the downloaded material in the system until the download/upload ratio is 1.0 or better. "Good netizens" do this.

Many netizens cast national laws aside when on the internet. One might argue that participation confers a sort of citizenship that transcends national boundaries. It is that ethos that has created an outlaw culture on the internet. Right or wrong, it is probably here to stay. We can adapt or become dodos.

RWood
08-05-2007, 11:34 PM
I have purchased an electronic copy of a book that I already owned in hardback form. Not that I couldn't scan it, OCR the scan, correct the errors, format it, convert it to LRF in BookDesigner, load it on my Sony Reader, and read it without the additional $12.95 expense. By my calculations that might make my salary less than $1.00 per hour for the book in question. I think I'm worth more.

CDs and even the old Lps are easier and quicker to convert.

Had the book not been a current issue but rather a classic that was out of copyright, not available on PG, not available anywhere, and could be shared; I would have gladly scanned it and performed the rest of the operations to offer it to the community.

When you consider the hours of labor it takes to convert even a simple book to electronic form, the cost of a download seems very reasonable.

So Harry, I guess we are both morons.

wgrimm
08-06-2007, 11:29 AM
I'm afraid I just don't understand why you consider that owning a paper copy of a book gives you a "right" to an electronic copy free of charge....."


Ummm...Actually, this is what US Copyright law says. Kind of like- if you own a performer's music cd, you can legally rip it to your ipod.


HARRYt SAID: "If I buy a hardback version of a book, which I want to keep safely at home, and decide that I want a paperback version to take away with me which I won't worry about getting bashed around, I have to go out and buy that paperback - I'm not entitled to get one "free" just because I've bought the hardback. I've done exactly that with my favourite books on several occasions."

Yeah, maybe- but you could also LEGALLY photocopy that hardcover to carry about with you.


hARRYt SAID: "Why do you think that an eBook is any different? Why should the fact that I've bought a hardback or paperback version of a book entitle me to an electronic version of that book free of charge? Just like I have to buy a paperback although I already own a hardback, surely I should pay for an eBook if I want that, shouldn't I? It's an identical situation."

Again, this is not my "personal feeling," but the LAW. The fact that I buy a hardback or paperback DOES give me the right to make an electronic version.

nekokami
08-06-2007, 12:12 PM
Wgrimm, that's US law. HarryT lives in the UK, and apparently doesn't have the legal right to copy or scan more than a chapter of a book. :(

HarryT
08-06-2007, 12:15 PM
[QUOTE=HarryT;85604]Yeah, maybe- but you could also LEGALLY photocopy that hardcover to carry about with you.

No, I couldn't. You could, but I couldn't.


Again, this is not my "personal feeling," but the LAW. The fact that I buy a hardback or paperback DOES give me the right to make an electronic version.

But making your OWN electronic copy is NOT the same as downloading one from the Internet.

nekokami
08-06-2007, 12:21 PM
Now, ethically, what happens if the uploader prefixes all files with something like the following:

"This file is intended for use by those who own a legal copy of the work in another form, or in countries in which the copyright on this work has expired. If you do not meet these requirements, please do not use this file."

How would that change the ethics, or even the legality, of uploading?

(I would also be inclined to add "or in cases where the work is out of print and cannot be obtained through legal commercial means", but that muddies the waters from a legal point of view.)

andym
08-06-2007, 04:08 PM
One may well argue that making your own copy of a book or a CD that you own, for strictly personal use, is a legitimate definition of "fair use".

Agreed, and that was all I was saying.

Surely, though, you wouldn't accept that uploading such a copy to the internet, where it could be downloaded by anybody, regardless of whether or not they owned it, is either "morally" or legally acceptable, would you?

No, and I didn't say that.

guguy
08-06-2007, 05:32 PM
When you consider the hours of labor it takes to convert even a simple book to electronic form, the cost of a download seems very reasonable.

Editors already own electronic version of all their books.
Sure they have some conversion work but it doesn't worth the
+-8$ they ask for an ebook. If I already own a paper version I'm not
willing to pay more than 1$ for the ebook version.

ricdiogo
08-06-2007, 06:31 PM
[QUOTE=wgrimm;85966]

No, I couldn't. You could, but I couldn't.



HarryT in the UK can't you make a copy of a CD to listen in the car?

mogui
08-06-2007, 06:46 PM
There is no consensus about the annual earnings of a writier though there are statements here (http://seacoastnh.com/Today/Editor_at_Large/Why_Writers_Starve/), here (http://arts.independent.co.uk/books/features/article2347523.ece), here (http://www.careerone.com.au/jobs/job-search/writing-a-book-is-a-novel-idea), here (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20060416/ai_n16166296) and here (http://www.danutakean.com/blog/?p=46).

Writing is difficult to do for most, and the rewards are largely intrinsic. As avid readers is behooves us to encourage writing. Copying a book doesn't really hurt the writer too much because she is starving already. In fact it may help her by creating a following for her work. The publishers have already squeezed the author until it is necessary for her to have a day job to survive.

We might want to recognize that lawmakers are not fully in touch with the issues. The laws are not the best, and they work often to the disadvantage of the writer who does most of the work. Laws are disregarded by many. The law is slow to accommodate changing conditions. The law tends to favor the folks who can afford expensive lawyers and lobbyists. The law is inconsistent between nations participating in this world culture. Law is not the answer.

-- Some Generally Good Things --
1/ A writer ought to have a mechanism for selling directly to the reader.
2/ A writer ought to be able to control a mechanism whereby she can collect money for her efforts.
3/ A writer ought to be able to publish anything without the editorial filter of the publisher judging and interfering -- let the market decide.

nekokami
08-06-2007, 08:37 PM
mogui, we have all that with the internet now, but I actually like having editors on whom I can rely to sanity-check an author's writing, and to select and present works that have a more consistent style and level of quality. The internet slush pile is huge and I don't have the time or inclination to wade through all of it.

But I don't think the good editors are getting rich, either. I suspect there's a bunch of overhead that could be excised from the process with no loss to the reader (or the writer), but that would take a complete overhaul of the publishing system.

HarryT
08-07-2007, 03:18 AM
HarryT in the UK can't you make a copy of a CD to listen in the car?

Technically, no, to do so is in violation of the copyright law. In reality, of course, it's one of those areas of the law which is impossible to enforce. Just as, for example, the only "legitimate" use for a DVD recorder is to temporarily store a programme so that it can be watched "time shifted"; to store that recording permanently after you've watched it is again technically illegal.

HarryT
08-07-2007, 03:37 AM
Now, ethically, what happens if the uploader prefixes all files with something like the following:

"This file is intended for use by those who own a legal copy of the work in another form, or in countries in which the copyright on this work has expired. If you do not meet these requirements, please do not use this file."

How would that change the ethics, or even the legality, of uploading?


Not in the slightest, IMHO. Remember, book downloaders are criminals. Appealing to the "honour" of such people to only download books if they own a paper copy would be an exercise in futility. Rather like a heroin dealer saying "you should only buy heroin from me if you have a prescription for it from your doctor" :grin:.

Moonraker
08-07-2007, 04:40 AM
Not in the slightest, IMHO. Remember, book downloaders are criminals. Appealing to the "honour" of such people to only download books if they own a paper copy would be an exercise in futility. Rather like a heroin dealer saying "you should only buy heroin from me if you have a prescription for it from your doctor"

Downloading copyrighted works is NOT a criminal offence. It is not even a civil offense. Uploading of copyrighted material is a civil offense. To be a criminal offense the works have to be offered for financial gain. Such people are hardly in the same league as heroin dealers!

Studies show that file sharers, on average, spend more on media than non file sharers.

HarryT
08-07-2007, 05:04 AM
Downloading copyrighted works is NOT a criminal offence.

It is in many EU countries.

ricdiogo
08-07-2007, 09:46 AM
I strongly suggest people to always clarify which country they're referring to when they say "it is not illegal" "it is illegal" "i can legitimately download" etc etc.
To all American posters: please please always add the phrase in the USA when talking about legal matters. "Downloading copyrighted works is NOT a criminal offence in the USA".
We are being read by people from all around the world, following all sorts of legislation, and one must always make clear which country we are talking about or we may be misleading people. Actually this should become a Mobileread policy.

HarryT
08-07-2007, 09:49 AM
Trouble is, very few of us are lawyers, and it's very easy to assume that what's true (or what we think is true - not always the same thing!) in our own country applies everywhere. We have to use our common sense and realise that all posts on this board are personal opinions and may or may not be accurate.

wgrimm
08-07-2007, 01:48 PM
Not in the slightest, IMHO. Remember, book downloaders are criminals. .

Maybe, maybe not. Here in the US, if you have bought the content in hardback form, you're allowed to have it in electronic form as well. So, if a person downloads that hardbook in an e-book format, well, that wouldn't appear to be iillegal. Because, he possesses the hardback book, and is allowed to possess the e-format book.

IMHO, publishers had better get on the ball in regards to e-books. A very small portion of the population buys books (the "average" person in the US reads 2 books per year according to statistics I have seen); if the publishers try to stick it to the people that BUY books, they are cutting their own potential profits. If they try to lock e-books to a particular format, like DRMd PDF's, all they are doing is encouraging piracy.

There will be indeed be innovation in regards to e-books, but it probably will come from the Far East. The publishers here are too greedy to make bold and innovative steps into areas like electronic textbooks, but they are not in China, where there is a big initiative to provide e-texts to students.

HarryT
08-07-2007, 01:52 PM
Maybe, maybe not. Here in the US, if you have bought the content in hardback form, you're allowed to have it in electronic form as well. So, if a person downloads that hardbook in an e-book format, well, that wouldn't appear to be iillegal. Because, he possesses the hardback book, and is allowed to possess the e-format book.


I agree that the "fair use" aspect of the US copyright law could be (rather liberally) interpreted as permitting you to make your own electronic copy of a book that you own, but does it really permit you to download a copy that somebody else has made?

wgrimm
08-07-2007, 04:03 PM
I agree that the "fair use" aspect of the US copyright law could be (rather liberally) interpreted as permitting you to make your own electronic copy of a book that you own, but does it really permit you to download a copy that somebody else has made?


Well, if this is a "liberal" interpretation of fair use, then so is ripping your cd's for your ipod. As for downloading an electronic copy being illegal, it might be hard to convict anyone because the end result is the same whether the book is downloaded or created- the person who owns the paper copy also possesses an electronic copy.

wgrimm
08-07-2007, 04:17 PM
Editors already own electronic version of all their books.
Sure they have some conversion work but it doesn't worth the
+-8$ they ask for an ebook. If I already own a paper version I'm not
willing to pay more than 1$ for the ebook version.


Oh, I agree. As for e-book piracy in general, I don't think it has much effect on sales whatsoever. Because some people buy books and others do not. If you want to view piracy as evil, and think it has a huge impact on publisher's profits, well- look at public libraries. How many sales have public libraries cost book publishers? If a publisher sells a single copy of a book to a library, and that book is checked out by 50 different people during the following year, does this mean that the publisher has lost 50 book sales? Heavens!

If you think so, then forget piracy- go after the libraries. They are the real criminals here, the entities that take the bread from writers mouths and profits from publishers wallets!

Eliminating piracy won't force a cheapskate to buy a book.

HarryT
08-08-2007, 04:10 AM
Well, if this is a "liberal" interpretation of fair use, then so is ripping your cd's for your ipod. As for downloading an electronic copy being illegal, it might be hard to convict anyone because the end result is the same whether the book is downloaded or created- the person who owns the paper copy also possesses an electronic copy.

OK, how do you feel about downloading a commercial eBook rather than a "home made" scan?

nekokami
08-08-2007, 10:08 AM
OK, how do you feel about downloading a commercial eBook rather than a "home made" scan?
I'm assuming you mean, "downloading a commercial ebook" without paying for it, i.e., a pirated copy, perhaps with DRM removed.

This is a very interesting question. Most of the darknet books I know of have been scanned/ocr'd or typed, rather than decrypted, perhaps because they predate commercial ebooks. One would hope that the commercial versions would be higher quality, with fewer typos, etc., and hence worth paying for, but based on comments about the type quality at the Connect store from Sony customers, this may not be the case.

In the case of audio formats, if one had a vinyl recording and wanted a CD of the same work, it might be reasonable to expect to have to pay for the new format, as the sound quality might be expected to be better (perhaps digitally remastered). But with ebooks, there is less of a clear advantage. Even so, the publisher has invested some effort into converting and formatting an ebook, and as we know from discussions here, that's a non-trivial effort if you want to do a good job.

I guess I'd rather not (knowingly) download a decrypted commercial book from the darknet, even if I owned the paper copy. I'd prefer to get it from someone who volunteered their time to scan the book. (Perhaps there is honor among "thieves" after all.)

wgrimm
08-09-2007, 12:31 PM
OK, how do you feel about downloading a commercial eBook rather than a "home made" scan?

Well, let me pose these 2 questions:

1. Am I justified in downloading a "commercial" e-book for free, if I previously owned that e-book in a version for my RocketBook that was broken? Mind you, I paid good money for the original DRMd ebook, and have no recourse with the publisher as they are out of business.

2. If I already own the paper book, is the end result- having an electronic version to read- any different whether I create the version myself or download it from the net?

You might consider this- book publishing is a much smaller market than music or movie publishing. The draconian efforts of music and movie makers to eliminate online piracy has failed miserably; what makes you think DRM or other policies that hurt the consumer will work with books?

Even Apple's online music store has announced they will be dropping DRM because customers don't want it. The ITUNES store has discovered that alot of people will buy a song for $1, a TV show for $2, and movies for $10 or less. When e-book sellers like the Connect store wake up and start pricing realistically, people will start buying from them. DRM ebooks, and watch your customer base dry up.

From the costs associated with the production of a paper book, deduct the following:

costs of printing and packaging. replace with (extremely low) cost of conversion from on electroni format to another.

costs of warehousing, transportation, and storefront (replace with far lower costs of web-based sales.

costs of book returns (from retailer to publisher) for unsold books- shipping, storage, etc.

Perhaps when ebook sellers start adjusting selling prices accordingly, their sales will improve.

HarryT
08-09-2007, 12:59 PM
Well, let me pose these 2 questions:

1. Am I justified in downloading a "commercial" e-book for free, if I previously owned that e-book in a version for my RocketBook that was broken? Mind you, I paid good money for the original DRMd ebook, and have no recourse with the publisher as they are out of business.

IMHO, No. That's an equivalent situation to one in which you've bought, say, a paperback version of a book, but are no longer able to read it. Perhaps you lost it, or dropped it in the bath. Are you entitled to a free (or even discounted) replacement? I think most people would say "no".

2. If I already own the paper book, is the end result- having an electronic version to read- any different whether I create the version myself or download it from the net?

Certainly it is. Fair use law, from what I've read, allows you to make a backup of your copy of the book. If you've downloaded it, it's not your copy is it - it's somebody else's. It's like asking if you scratch a CD that you've bought, can you go out and legally copy somebody else's unscratched copy. The answer is clearly, no, you can't.

nekokami
08-09-2007, 01:28 PM
1. Am I justified in downloading a "commercial" e-book for free, if I previously owned that e-book in a version for my RocketBook that was broken? Mind you, I paid good money for the original DRMd ebook, and have no recourse with the publisher as they are out of business.

2. If I already own the paper book, is the end result- having an electronic version to read- any different whether I create the version myself or download it from the net?
I would say 1. Yes and 2. No, no difference.

1. is Yes because the case is different from HarryT's example of the paperback dropped in the bathtub in the following way: there is no additional cost to the publisher. (But then, we're allowed to make backup copies of software and music in the US, and things might be different in the UK, where HarryT lives.) This is the only type of circumstance in which I think I'd feel comfortable knowingly downloading a cracked DRM file -- the effort of formatting the book for electronic use has already been paid for.

I'd say 2. is No, because I really do think if you've paid for the book, it doesn't matter particularly where the backup copy comes from. (Again, the idea of a "backup copy" is usually considered "fair use" in the US, but may not be in the UK.) However, uploading a digital copy to where anyone can download it crosses the line into illegality. (I'm less certain about the ethics of the upload. There are two conflicting systems of ethics at work, in my mind: the ethics of the US law-abiding citizen, and the ethics of the internet, often described as a "gift economy" where it's considered fair to download only if you also upload and share content.)

HarryT
08-09-2007, 01:37 PM
What I'm struggling with is the idea which seems to be being expressed that, having paid for a book in one format once, you're entitled to free copies, for life, in any other format that you wish :).

All my very favourite books - the ones I read and re-read - I've probably bought multiple times; sometimes because I've initially bought a paperback and wanted a nice hardback, sometimes because I've simply worn out the original. I don't consider that buying a book in one format gives me some "God-given right" to "eternal use" of that book in all conceivable formats. If I buy a hardback and want a paperback, I have to buy a paperback (or vice versa). I honestly don't see that an eBook is any different.

Perhaps it is just a cultural difference. For all I know, people in the US routinely photocopy their paper books and read the photocopies, because their "fair use" law says they can. Here, we just accept that books wear and, and go and buy a new one if we want an additional copy, or we want the book in a different format.

HarryT
08-09-2007, 01:39 PM
I'd say 2. is No, because I really do think if you've paid for the book, it doesn't matter particularly where the backup copy comes from. (Again, the idea of a "backup copy" is usually considered "fair use" in the US, but may not be in the UK.) However, uploading a digital copy to where anyone can download it crosses the line into illegality.

There seems to be a certain contradiction here.

1. It's OK to download a copy of a book from the internet if you have a paper copy.

2. It's wrong and illegal to upload books to the internet.

May I ask where these copies that it's OK for you to download are going to come from, if not from illegal uploads?

nekokami
08-09-2007, 01:59 PM
Oh, you're quite right, there's a contradiction there. I can think of ways to resolve it, though, e.g. a swap club that checks the actual library holdings of its members in some way. There's a service like this for the blind: http://www.bookshare.org.

I think you're right, there's a cultural difference here. I've bought additional copies of books in the past if I've lost them or they've gotten damaged, and I don't really mind doing so, but I'd rather be able to keep a backup and retrieve it, and in my mind, that's probably better for the environment as well, which is also important. I'm not saying this to try to get you to agree with me, only explaining my point of view. Perhaps we could agree to disagree on this one.

slayda
08-09-2007, 02:56 PM
Perhaps it is just a cultural difference. For all I know, people in the US routinely photocopy their paper books and read the photocopies, because their "fair use" law says they can. Here, we just accept that books wear and, and go and buy a new one if we want an additional copy, or we want the book in a different format.

Harry, I agree with you in concept but it may be only partially a cultural difference. I think the big difference here is a combination of technology & economy. It's basically cheaper to buy a new paperback than to photocopy it. With electronic media, that is not the case since it is much cheaper and easier to copy. Also if I steal a paper copy, I have done several things, only some of which apply to stealing an electronic copy. I.e. 1) there is the "intellectual property" that applies to both, but 2) with the paper copy I have taken something tangible and you no longer have it, while with the ebook, we would both have our own copy - one legal and one stolen. Therefore since you, the legal owner of the book, have lost nothing, some people will not see that as stealing. They don't consider the originator of the story in their thoughts.

Please note that I am NOT saying that it is either legal or ethical to copy the ebook. Just that sometimes it's difficult to determine exactly where the ethical line is on intellectual property. Since we're only talking about books here, I won't open up that whole can of worms except to point out that if I tell a story and you record it and then publish it, you would probably own the copyright even though it originated as my intellectual property.

slayda
08-09-2007, 03:05 PM
Another ethical, not legal, question.

Where is the difference between a paper book library lending books and a hypothetical ebook library lending books? With the former, you borrow the book, read it & return it. With my hypothetical ebook library, you download an electronic version, read it & erase it.

I admit that there is no practical way to ensure that you erase the book but most books I buy are of the "read once" variety. So if it were practical to ensure erasure after reading, what would the ethical difference be between the two types of library?:tired:

wgrimm
08-09-2007, 03:08 PM
IMHO, No. That's an equivalent situation to one in which you've bought, say, a paperback version of a book, but are no longer able to read it. Perhaps you lost it, or dropped it in the bath. Are you entitled to a free (or even discounted) replacement? I think most people would say "no".

Well, I didn't lose my Rocketbook or drop it in the bath, and in fact- I have an identical unit handy. The books' won't run on it because of DRM. Yes, I think I am entitled to a free replacement. If I buy a book, say, from ereader for my palm, and my palm wears out, I can still read the book on another palmpilot.



Certainly it is. Fair use law, from what I've read, allows you to make a backup of your copy of the book. If you've downloaded it, it's not your copy is it - it's somebody else's. It's like asking if you scratch a CD that you've bought, can you go out and legally copy somebody else's unscratched copy. The answer is clearly, no, you can't.

If the 2 copies are identical, then there IS no difference, so who cares?

I think if your approach to e-book marketing is followed, there won't be much of a market for e-books. If publishers want me to pay 2 times for the same content, or won't replace my copies of e-books when their dopey DRM software flakes out and destroys the value of what I bought, well, I won't be buying e-books. I don't think many readers would. But that won't stop me from buying e-book readers and making my own content, and I doubt it will stop book piracy.

I look at ereader, where I have bought thousands of dollars of e-books. Why? Well, convenience mainly- their DRM is easy to deal with (credit card number based) and is easily updated to a different card number, the book is not locked to only 1 device, and they make shopping and retrieval of my purchases extremely easy. They make their customers happy, and the shopping/reading experience enjoyable.

Building a strong business usually isn't possible if you treat your customers poorly........

wgrimm
08-09-2007, 03:12 PM
IMHO, No. That's an equivalent situation to one in which you've bought, say, a paperback version of a book, but are no longer able to read it. Perhaps you lost it, or dropped it in the bath. Are you entitled to a free (or even discounted) replacement? I think most people would say "no".

Well, I didn't lose my Rocketbook or drop it in the bath, and in fact- I have an identical unit handy. The books' won't run on it because of DRM. Yes, I think I am entitled to a free replacement. If I buy a book, say, from ereader for my palm, and my palm wears out, I can still read the book on another palmpilot.



Certainly it is. Fair use law, from what I've read, allows you to make a backup of your copy of the book. If you've downloaded it, it's not your copy is it - it's somebody else's. It's like asking if you scratch a CD that you've bought, can you go out and legally copy somebody else's unscratched copy. The answer is clearly, no, you can't.

If the 2 copies are identical, then there IS no difference, so who cares?

I think if your approach to e-book marketing is followed, there won't be much of a market for e-books. If publishers want me to pay 2 times for the same content, or won't replace my copies of e-books when their dopey DRM software flakes out and destroys the value of what I bought, well, I won't be buying e-books. I don't think many readers would. But that won't stop me from buying e-book readers and making my own content, and I doubt it will stop book piracy.

I look at ereader, where I have bought thousands of dollars of e-books. Why? Well, convenience mainly- their DRM is easy to deal with (credit card number based) and is easily updated to a different card number, the book is not locked to only 1 device, and they make shopping and retrieval of my purchases extremely easy. They make their customers happy, and the shopping/reading experience enjoyable. And, in many of their books, the prices are reasonable. And if I lose my copy of an ebook, it's easy to download it again. This is what reading ebooks should be like.

Building a strong business usually isn't possible if you treat your customers poorly........

nekokami
08-09-2007, 04:16 PM
Another ethical, not legal, question.

Where is the difference between a paper book library lending books and a hypothetical ebook library lending books? With the former, you borrow the book, read it & return it. With my hypothetical ebook library, you download an electronic version, read it & erase it.

I admit that there is no practical way to ensure that you erase the book but most books I buy are of the "read once" variety. So if it were practical to ensure erasure after reading, what would the ethical difference be between the two types of library?:tired:
I believe there are now libraries which use a DRM with an expiration date to do exactly this.

astra
08-09-2007, 08:11 PM
What I'm struggling with is the idea which seems to be being expressed that, having paid for a book in one format once, you're entitled to free copies, for life, in any other format that you wish :).

All my very favourite books - the ones I read and re-read - I've probably bought multiple times; sometimes because I've initially bought a paperback and wanted a nice hardback, sometimes because I've simply worn out the original. I don't consider that buying a book in one format gives me some "God-given right" to "eternal use" of that book in all conceivable formats. If I buy a hardback and want a paperback, I have to buy a paperback (or vice versa). I honestly don't see that an eBook is any different.


That's why I always buy only hardback editions. They do not wear down. They are life time copies of the books. Even my children may inherit them. When I buy a book I consider it as a life time investment.

The day when there will be some sort of
universal ebook format
without DRM with
prices similar to paperback editions,
I will stop buying paper books - hardback editions and will resort to ebooks only. Untill then I will keep on buying expensive hardback editions and obtain ebook versions by other means.

mogui
08-11-2007, 12:40 AM
What I'm struggling with is the idea which seems to be being expressed that, having paid for a book in one format once, you're entitled to free copies, for life, in any other format that you wish :).

All my very favourite books - the ones I read and re-read - I've probably bought multiple times; sometimes because I've initially bought a paperback and wanted a nice hardback, sometimes because I've simply worn out the original. I don't consider that buying a book in one format gives me some "God-given right" to "eternal use" of that book in all conceivable formats. If I buy a hardback and want a paperback, I have to buy a paperback (or vice versa). I honestly don't see that an eBook is any different.

Perhaps it is just a cultural difference. For all I know, people in the US routinely photocopy their paper books and read the photocopies, because their "fair use" law says they can. Here, we just accept that books wear and, and go and buy a new one if we want an additional copy, or we want the book in a different format.
Maybe the current business model of eBook retailers is flawed. When I borrow a book from a public library, I understand it is borrowed and that I must return it. Some libraries now loan eBooks that expire after a certain period of time. Everyone can accept this.

In the west you have public libraries that loan books for "free", subsidized by taxes. In other countries, a borrower must pay a fee to borrow a book. Everyone concerned can accept this.

Maybe eBook retailers could operate like "for fee" libraries. You pay a fee, download a book, read it or not, and after a period of time it becomes unusable. This book would be DRMed. Thus, we would deviate from the notion that we are buying something. Under this business model, readers would have their needs fulfilled, and publishers, retailers and authors could make money.

If the lending fee was sufficiently small, could everyone accept this? Hmmm?

HarryT
08-11-2007, 04:17 AM
Maybe eBook retailers could operate like "for fee" libraries. You pay a fee, download a book, read it or not, and after a period of time it becomes unusable. This book would be DRMed. Thus, we would deviate from the notion that we are buying something. Under this business model, readers would have their needs fulfilled, and publishers, retailers and authors could make money.

If the lending fee was sufficiently small, could everyone accept this? Hmmm?

This was the way that DRM worked on the original Sony Librie in Japan. It was, by all accounts, a complete commercial disaster. People want content to keep.

Hasn't there been an attempt to introduce "self destructing" DVDs in the US? I believe they've not been too successful, either.

mogui
08-11-2007, 04:57 AM
The operative qualification here is the "sufficiently small" fee. Do you know what Sony was charging? Theoretically anyone can open a "for fee" lending library, and they can charge any fee they wish. Years ago there were software libraries on the web that charged a rental fee for which you could download a copy. This was clearly a way to cheat the publisher. But now we have the model of public libraries allowing eBook downloads (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=79200&postcount=30). Our taxes pay the fee, which is certainly "sufficiently small" enough that we will use the service. There is a precedent here to rent eBooks for a very small fee. All of this would operate outside of the current distribution channels.

jasonkchapman
08-11-2007, 11:12 PM
Hasn't there been an attempt to introduce "self destructing" DVDs in the US? I believe they've not been too successful, either.
DivX. It was supposed to revolutionize video rentals. It was quite deservedly killed by mobs running away from it, but they forgot to put a stake in its heart. New plans for self-destructing DVDs keep popping up occasionally.

monkeywrench
08-12-2007, 12:48 AM
There seems to be a certain contradiction here.

1. It's OK to download a copy of a book from the internet if you have a paper copy.

Another contradiction that I haven't seen here yet. Let me preface this by saying that I am just throwing this out here because its basically the same thing thats been mentioned here already only in reverse. I myself believe what I am about to say is pretty ridiculous but I thought it needed to be brought up and might change the way that some people think about their entitlement to a book in electronic form because they own a paper copy.

So lets say I go onto Sony Connect and buy an ebook and then I decide that I want a paper copy of that book. Wouldn't it be ethically alright for me to go down to the local bookstore and pick up the same title in paper format and walk right out the front door without paying for it?

Somehow I don't think this would fly.

Now I know that a lot of people are going to say this is not the same because the paper book is a physical thing and there is a cost involved for the materials used to make the book. With this being said think of it this way.

Now days when we go to the store and buy software we aren't actually buying it. We are licensing the use of the software under the terms and conditions of the end user license agreement. With this in mind it leads me to believe that I am not actually paying for the discs, documentation, and packaging. I am merely paying a fee to use the software that is on the discs.

If books and music were thought of in this same way we would just be licensing the use of or the ability to read/listen to the book or music that was on/in the physical medium. And if this were the case using the logic of "If I own the paper copy then I can legally/ethically download an electronic copy" then my idea above wouldn't seem so far fetched.

Now for a solution to this problem. When I buy a book from Cisco Press it almost always includes a CD with the book in PDF format. It would be really nice if when we bought a book, be it paper back or hard cover, that they included a link for us to legally download an electronic copy? I would, as someone else mentioned earlier, even be willing to pay an extra amount (maybe a dollar or two) to offset the cost of the conversion, bandwidth, server hardware, etc. So that I didn't have to buy two copies of the book at cover price.

I think there are a lot of creative things that these companies could do to create a better user experience for consumers. These are the things that they need to start doing to give people a reason to buy their products legally rather than fighting against consumers with the attitude that if given the opportunity we will do our best to steal from them.

JSWolf
08-12-2007, 12:50 AM
Remember, if you purchase the hardback of a book and then want the paperback, you have to pay for the paperback.

What I would love to see is a coupon for the ebook whereby you purchase the hardcover and get the ebook at a significantly reduced price like $2.

HarryT
08-12-2007, 04:08 AM
Remember, if you purchase the hardback of a book and then want the paperback, you have to pay for the paperback.

What I would love to see is a coupon for the ebook whereby you purchase the hardcover and get the ebook at a significantly reduced price like $2.

Why would you not expect them to do likewise for paperbacks, Jon? That's one of my main points in this debate - everyone seems to expect to have to pay full price for a paperback, if they've bought the hardware, and yet there are those who appear to expect to get the eBook for "free". That just seems completely irrational to me.

andyafro
08-12-2007, 07:28 PM
sad sad sad

andyafro
08-12-2007, 07:37 PM
hahahahah you people are so full of shit sometimes

i read this forum everyday and all you get is people going on about whats legal and illegal copyright material and what's ethical & unethical on the main pages but mention or post a book that no-one has and the same people that are cursing and saying you can't do that are the same people flooding my email with requests for it.

i do buy books nearly everyday i read 3 / 4 books a week i buy from connect and download the free content whereever i can find it but if its not available to buy or it's not in ebook format i'm gonna find it one way or another because i love to read i do not share unless someone ask me for a book they cannot get no matter where they look.
i think you lot delude yourself sometimes i bet most of you have something you shouldnt have on your reader.
sorry but im getting one messege on here and another in the private ones and from the same people

HarryT
08-13-2007, 03:19 AM
Please express your opinions politely, Andy. "full of shit" is not an acceptable expression on MobileRead - we conduct civilized discussions here.

You may indeed think that it is "sad" to wish to uphold the law; that's your right. Please accept, however, that some of us do not regard it as ethically acceptable to download illegally copied books.

Thank you,

andyafro
08-13-2007, 08:09 AM
HARRY T
you are the 3rd person i have had to apoligise to for my comments last night, my only defence is that i am 4 days into a stop smoking effort a 15 year habit and im hurting real bad now
so if i offended anyone i am very sorry but it felt good for a second to stress abit

i read abook yesterday and didnt understand any of it thats how bad i feel i still read it though because it kept my mind of things but i was climbing the wall so bad none of it made sense to me

once again sorry to all i may of offended

HarryT
08-13-2007, 08:18 AM
No problem. Thanks for being good enough to apologise.

slayda
08-13-2007, 11:07 AM
It would be really nice if when we bought a book, be it paper back or hard cover, that they included a link for us to legally download an electronic copy?


Baen does, sometimes, include a CD, not only of the hardback book you buy - in many formats, but also many of their other books.

mogui
08-13-2007, 02:45 PM
andyafro, I wish you well in you nonsmoking effort. I know how hard it is. I stopped many times, but the hard thing is not starting again. I haven't smoked now for many years.

It was only recently that some people 'fessed up to downloading. We try to defend those principles that we hope will encourage an eBook industry, though we do not agree on what that means.

This thread has become sort of a cops 'n robbers dialog with the robbers in the inhibited minority. I perfectly understand your reaction in your earlier post. Not too long ago we had a spate of hostility in one or two of the threads and we are a little sensitive to the possibility of flaming.

We try to be good eFriends here and pretty much say what we feel. I hope you will continue to join us.

Liviu_5
08-13-2007, 05:22 PM
Baen does, sometimes, include a CD, not only of the hardback book you buy - in many formats, but also many of their other books.

Not only that but those cd's are made available online freely, legally with the blessing of Baen in several places.

monkeywrench
08-13-2007, 07:32 PM
Baen does, sometimes, include a CD, not only of the hardback book you buy - in many formats, but also many of their other books.

Thanks for the tip slayda!

I have looked at Baen before and most of the subject matter doesn't really interest me. This being said I think that fact is enough for me to pay them another visit. It would be nice to be able to support those that are progressive enough to think of the consumer in this way when making their product decisions.