There is no conclusive proof that it is legal, but in the USA it is necessary to prove something ILLEGAL. Anything not illegal is automatically legal, until new laws are established that say otherwise.
Originally Posted by ApK
If by that, you mean it's legal to make a full copy just so you can own it and read it, I'd love to see the proof of that.
Legally, you would need to prove that it is ILLEGAL for me to copy a book for personal (educational) use. And you cannot use supposed "legal" propaganda from the media companies in your argument (until they succeed in making their propaganda become the law of the land by making substantial contributions to the reelection campaign funds of all the important politicians).
And in addition, copying for personal use is all a gray area because of many layers of conflicting laws, until a larger body of case law is established, and the media companies want to remove all personal rights to fair use. "Fair Use" is a "balancing act" that mostly applies to REPUBLISHING small portions of a copyrighted material for certain uses. In that regard, one of the most important rules is this:
"Don't compete with the work you are quoting or copying from. If the use diminishes the market for the copyrighted work (or portions of it), including revenues from licensing fees, it is probably not a fair use Many courts cite this as the most important fair use factor."
That above quote is a "Fair Use" copy from a larger document.
From other "Fair Use" documents:
"The use of copyrighted works for nonprofit or educational purposes is more likely to be considered fair use (NOLO, 2010, para. 6)."
"Spontaneity refers to how many times you can copy and how much planning it would take to otherwise seek and obtain permission from a copyright holder (U.S. Copyright Office, 2009, p. 6)."
"When Should You Get Permission?
- When you intend to use the project for commercial or non-educational purposes.
- When you intend to duplicate the project beyond the two copies allowed by the guidelines.
- When you plan to distribute the project beyond the scope of the guidelines (Lehman, 1998, p. 54)."
"17 USC 1008: No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings."
"According to the brief, the authorized copies Howell made became unauthorized copies once Howell put them in a shared folder, presumably the Kazaa shared folder…. If you rip a CD and place the MP3s into a folder to which only you have access, the copies are authorized. If the files are in a shared folder, they’re “available” to third parties, which is a copyright violation…."
Regarding text sources: "Copies should be used only by the person responsible for the reproduction."
Beware however that it is all subject to change based on case law, and many issues have not been resolved yet: "Although certain types of infringement scenarios are allowed as fair use and thus are effectively considered non-infringing, "personal use" copying is not explicitly mentioned as a type of fair use, and case law has not yet established otherwise." In the USA, things that are not illegal (such as this) are automatically legal (but subject to change as more case law is established).
In general, the big "No No" is SHARING your copy, and what you intend to do with it. If it is for EDUCATIONAL purposes (which can be interpreted to include most reading material), it is generally considered safe for personal use.
And of course, if you do not SHARE your personal copy, you are unlikely to bring attention to yourself that would require a legal decision to be made on your intent and usage of your personal copy. Because personal copies are private, for personal consumption, it becomes a MORAL choice much more than a legal right. Many laws and court decisions regarding "Fair Use" are in conflict with the DMCA and other recent laws, and many details are yet to be decided, so it mostly becomes a personal choice as long as you do not bring attention to your actions (like most other things in life).
Because the kindle firmware images contain substantial portions of GPL code (plus a little bit of proprietary code), distributing modified copies is common online for many devices. Even if ALL proprietary code in the firmware, it would be fine for me to obtain copies of firmware for devices that I do not own (for educational purposes), but distributing modified copies COULD be an issue. It is better to release a patch that others apply to their own personal copies (which can be extracted from amazon updates downloadable at the amazon website, in some cases).
In the end, it all boils down to intent, and whether you cause significant harm to the copyright holder (enough to annoy them to take action against you).
If I copy a book (even one that I do NOT own), I am unlikely to annoy the copyright holder enough to make them take legal action against me. But if I publish it, that may well bring undesirable legal action. Because it would harm (or at least seriously annoy) the copyright holder, it would not follow the Golden Rule (an important foundation of many laws).