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Old 08-12-2012, 11:07 AM   #1
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Out of print books

Hi everyone!

Todays problem involves a book that I and many others wish to read. It is of course as the title suggests out of print. My library has a copy which is listed as library use only. It is the type of book that would require me to copy the entire contents and take this copied version with me as I travel, in order for me to maximize the books utility.

Is it ethical/moral for me to copy this book?

If so, is it more or less ethical to either hand copy the book or use a machine to copy the book?

Once the book is copied would it be ethical for me to post this copied version of the book onto the network so that others can make use of this book?
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Old 08-12-2012, 11:46 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giggleton View Post
Hi everyone!

Todays problem involves a book that I and many others wish to read. It is of course as the title suggests out of print. My library has a copy which is listed as library use only. It is the type of book that would require me to copy the entire contents and take this copied version with me as I travel, in order for me to maximize the books utility.

Is it ethical/moral for me to copy this book?

If so, is it more or less ethical to either hand copy the book or use a machine to copy the book?

Once the book is copied would it be ethical for me to post this copied version of the book onto the network so that others can make use of this book?
Giggleton is temporarily suspended at the moment, but no doubt he'll be back eventually.

Giggleton also has not mentioned whether the book in question is still in copyright. As his questions have obvious and uncontroversial answers if the book is out of copyright, I will assume he's talking about a book that's still in copyright.

So my answers are

(1) No.
(2) Makes no difference.
(3) No.

If Giggleton bought a second-hand copy of the book (rather than borrowing it from a library) that they either retained or destroyed, I would say

(1) Yes.
(2) Makes no difference.
(3) No.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:20 PM   #3
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Would it be legal for me to pay a company to make me a digital copy of my books that are out of print.

These are copyright books but the would not be sold.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by alanHd View Post
Would it be legal for me to pay a company to make me a digital copy of my books that are out of print.

These are copyright books but the would not be sold.
There are companies which offer that service. I imagine that they are operating within the law.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by alanHd View Post
Would it be legal for me to pay a company to make me a digital copy of my books that are out of print.

These are copyright books but the would not be sold.
I suspect that it might be considered illegal, but only a civil offence, not a criminal one.

i.e. The copyright owner could sue you if they found out and thought it worth doing, but the police wouldn't be interested.

However! I am not a lawyer! For real legal advice you'd need to ask (& pay) a lawyer.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:46 PM   #6
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Thanks for that, i think i will continue reading those books in the paper version and hope that in the future someone makes them available as digital versions.
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:06 PM   #7
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I wouldn't necessarily consider it unethical depending on how available it is in the secondary market and why its out of print. There's a huge difference between something that simply went out of print from lack of demand, to stuff that was pulled from publication because of corporate censorship, and books that were intentionally given short print runs as part of a scheme to profiteer on the secondary market.
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Old 08-12-2012, 03:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
(1) No.
(2) Makes no difference.
(3) No.

If Giggleton bought a second-hand copy of the book (rather than borrowing it from a library) that they either retained or destroyed, I would say

(1) Yes.
(2) Makes no difference.
(3) No.
Before a law change in Sweden 2005 both scenarios would have been legal. After 2005 is is not legal to copy a whole book in either of the scenarios.
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Old 08-12-2012, 03:58 PM   #9
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Before a law change in Sweden 2005 both scenarios would have been legal. After 2005 is is not legal to copy a whole book in either of the scenarios.
I feel I must mention (since Giggleton isn't currently able to do so himself) that the thread is about the ethics and morality of copying, not the legality.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:13 PM   #10
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A similar question arises in regard to older books vs. new books I think. I mean if a book is out of copyright in one part of the world but not another and an ebook copy is available vs. a new book that isn't yet released as a legal ebook. Like some of the books here at MR for example. Some are on US servers because they aren't out of copyright in Canada but they are older books so you have to wonder if it would pay a publisher to go after someone who downloaded a copy of a given book that is out of copyright in Canada or the US but not where they are located. But I could see a publisher going after someone who downloaded a copy of the newest book by a living author with good cause. I mean the new book is still making a lot of profit and is a new release. Of course I don't know for sure that publisher x wouldn't go after someone about a book thats 50-60 yrs old but I'd think it would be worth more of their time if the book was a new one. I agree though that a lawyer would know more than just common sense about it.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:48 PM   #11
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I feel I must mention (since Giggleton isn't currently able to do so himself) that the thread is about the ethics and morality of copying, not the legality.
Sure, but some people writing in these kind of threads believe that if it is illegal it is ethically wrong.

Personally I see no problem photo copying an out of print book in either scenario and I have borrowed books and copied them. The work copying them was definitely not worth the money I saved.
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:02 PM   #12
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My question was regarding the legal question because it involved getting an outside company to do the work and involved payment.

If i had anything apart from a flatbed scanner i would do the job myself. So to me copying a book to digital for myself would be ok but paying for it done without it being legal is something i'm not prepared to do.
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by alanHd View Post
If i had anything apart from a flatbed scanner i would do the job myself. So to me copying a book to digital for myself would be ok but paying for it done without it being legal is something i'm not prepared to do.
I personally think it is illegal. I would think it is making and distributing an unauthorised copy and not making a copy for personal use.
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:36 PM   #14
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I personally think it is illegal. I would think it is making and distributing an unauthorised copy and not making a copy for personal use.
I dont see this has being illegal because i own the physical book, which would have to be destroyed to do the transfer and the fact the digital copy would only ever be read by me.
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Old 08-12-2012, 06:32 PM   #15
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Sure, but some people writing in these kind of threads believe that if it is illegal it is ethically wrong.
So here's a sticky situation- a role-playing game company gives a popular sourcebook (which ties into a recent video game release) an incredibly small print run. People come in posting on the publisher's message board, begging for a second printing. About a week later, massively overpriced (think high triple digits for a book with an MSRP of $40) copies start to appear on Amazon.

Smells a little like insider trading on the part of the publisher, right? After all, they could've easily done another printing and made a lot more money, albeit shooting the bottom out from under the scalpers. But for some reason they didn't, much to the collective rage of the fanbase.

So I have a PDF of it, which I intend to use until I can find a copy at MSRP. I'm not holding my breath.

Edit: This company also yanked all its PDFs from publication about six months before the above incident, claiming rampant piracy. Makes me wonder if they weren't actively trying to set up an incident like that.

Last edited by teh603; 08-12-2012 at 06:37 PM.
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