Originally Posted by advocate2
The shortest length of copyright appears to be life in being plus 25 years. Given that it is legal to post a pre-1985 book in those countries, is a US reader breaking the law if he or she downloads a book from a server in one of those countries? I am somewhat confused as to what is legal and what is illegal.
It's unclear if *downloading* is illegal, or if uploading is. If they're uploaded to a legal country's servers, the only potential crime could be some variant of "inciting" copyright violation, which would be hard to prove.
Whether downloading is a crime/tort depends on some fuzzy things; several criminal copyright laws mention a minimum number of copies before the penalties kick in.
§ 602. Infringing importation or exportation of copies or phonorecords
(1) Importation.—Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement...
(3) Exceptions.—This subsection does not apply to—
(B) importation or exportation, for the private use of the importer or exporter and not for distribution, by any person with respect to no more than one copy or phonorecord of any one work at any one time....
That said--before we get into another 20-page thread about the vaguaries of copyright law--Mobileread doesn't prevent links to places that provide ebooks that are legal where they're provided. It allows Canadian-hosted ebooks that aren't PD in the US, and has a separate server for US-hosted ebooks that aren't PD in other places, and we're welcome to discuss Project Gutenberg Australia & provide links to it.
Originally Posted by pwalker8
There have been cases of people getting computers confiscated because customs thought there was pirated movies or music on it.
But this would be a case of acquiring something that was entirely legal in the other country, just not legal to distribute in the US. It's legal to *own* in the US, just not legal for that provider to distribute it here. Should be on par with buying a suit in a shop in Canada that doesn't have a business license in New York--it was legal where you acquired it; it's legal to own in the US; it just isn't legal for the seller to sell it in the US.