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Old 08-14-2012, 01:37 AM   #46
Jozawun
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Originally Posted by khalleron View Post
If you knowingly buy stolen goods, then the ethics of copyright are probably not going to keep you awake at night.
Correct, but nobody in any previous post has ever raised the issue of knowingly buying stolen goods.
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Old 08-14-2012, 01:43 AM   #47
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In your second example, the keeping of a copy is the problem... if you buy a book, read it and give it to someone then no problem but giving and retaining a copy is both ethically wrong and a copyright infringement either civilly or criminally illegal depending on local laws...
Are you agreeing with pdurrant that it is OK to buy and copy the book for yourself, but only if you keep the book (or, presumably, bin it)?

Secondly, what about the innocent donee? Is it OK for him to copy the book?
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:04 AM   #48
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Random House maintains an archive of out of print books, which they will photocopy/scan for a price per page (I think it's 10p). About a year ago I was looking for a long out of print book (I found one copy for sale at around $250) and they were able to hook me up. They required I sign a form stating that the scanned book is for personal use only, and that I would not give it to anyone else. I suspect that I could have arranged a discounted group purchase if I thought other people wanted to read it as well.

The Random House archive is here: http://archive.randomhouse.co.uk/

I'm certain that other publishers have similar systems in place and would be very glad to take your money.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:28 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by Jozawun View Post
I am interested in pdurrant's view that it would be ethical to copy the book if you purchased it, but not if you borrowed it from a library.
What is the ethical difference, given that you have actually paid for it in both cases?
In the first one has paid for permanent access to a copy of the work. Making an additional copy of the work for one's own use seems plainly ethical to me, and is legal in the US, although not in the UK.

In the second case, one has paid (through taxes) for communal, temporary access to a limited number of copies of the work. Making an additional copy of the work to gain permanent access to a copy of the work without further compensating the author is unethical.

If everyone did the first, no-one would suffer any loss of revenue. If everyone did the second, there would be a large enough loss of revenue that it would no longer be economically viable to make books available to libraries.
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:50 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
In the first one has paid for permanent access to a copy of the work. Making an additional copy of the work for one's own use seems plainly ethical to me, and is legal in the US, although not in the UK.

In the second case, one has paid (through taxes) for communal, temporary access to a limited number of copies of the work. Making an additional copy of the work to gain permanent access to a copy of the work without further compensating the author is unethical.

If everyone did the first, no-one would suffer any loss of revenue. If everyone did the second, there would be a large enough loss of revenue that it would no longer be economically viable to make books available to libraries.
Thank you for the explanation, but I still have a little trouble seeing the distinction.
What you are saying is that it is ethical to buy a 2nd-hand out of print book and to make a copy for your own purposes without further compensating the author; but that is unethical to borrow the book from a library and make a copy for your own purposes unless you do further compensate the author.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:09 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Jozawun View Post
Thank you for the explanation, but I still have a little trouble seeing the distinction.
What you are saying is that it is ethical to buy a 2nd-hand out of print book and to make a copy for your own purposes without further compensating the author; but that is unethical to borrow the book from a library and make a copy for your own purposes unless you do further compensate the author.
I agree with that because in case of 2nd hand material you purchase; keeping for yourself you take it out of circulation (again) into wich it had been reinserted by being resold and thus removed from possession and ownership of the primary buyer.
The author has already been rewarded for allowing the existence of this singular copy in circulation.
Additional personal copies have no influence on the amount of the supply-demand circulation/ecosystem (? feel free to help me out with an expression here) the personal copies exist only in your personal sphere of influence, they are not in commercial or otherwise public circulation but if you temporarily take an item meant to return into circulation as with library items. (where the author has been and in many cases still is compensated for said circulation: depending on the locally valid laws authors get money based on library circulation) Making a permanent copy without ownership of the original makes you 'cheating' insofar that you work around your need of having an own copy i.e. a kind of copy for which the author should have been separately compensated by abusing a copy in public circulation of which only temporary possession and no ownership (library) was granted to you.
The point that matters is: do your multiplications of the material affect supply and demand of others and by this affecting the authors revenues?

The right to a personal copy can only be derived from possession of a "personal original" what in case of a library-owned original, temporarily released into your possesion only (possesion is only factual control no legal ownership) isn't given.

I'm sure it could be explained less complicated, sorry. Seems to be one of mine "hit your linguistic limits" - day.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:20 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by Jozawun View Post
What you are saying is that it is ethical to buy a 2nd-hand out of print book and to make a copy for your own purposes without further compensating the author; but that is unethical to borrow the book from a library and make a copy for your own purposes unless you do further compensate the author.
Yes. Spot on.

If you buy a 2nd-hand out of print book and retain it, you reduce the supply of 2nd-hand copies of that book. If the second-hand market runs low and demand increases, some publisher might investigate the possibility of a new print run.

Again, look at what happens if everyone does it.

If people buy up second-hand copies and retain them (even if they also make personal-use copies as well), the chances of a new print run or a new edition are quite high.

If people just borrow the existing copies from libraries and make copies for themselves before returning the book to the library, there is no chance of a new print run or a new edition.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:46 AM   #53
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Thanks Paul. That's what I meant.
Creating ownership out of the less persistent temporary possession wrecks demand.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:24 PM   #54
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It appears to me that all of the discussion bearing on the ethics of copying are couched in terms of the creator's right to make money off of the sale of the book.

It seems to me that if a book has been allowed to go out of print, it amounts to an abandonment the right to make a profit. Now, there could be some quibbling about this point, as when the author still wants to sell the book but can't find anyone who will publish it. But on the whole, I think it is reasonable to suppose that a book goes out of print because there's no longer any profit to be made.

So if a book is out of print, I have no problem with copying it in any fashion, unless there is some other right that is being violated. And I don't see that any other moral right has been advanced for out of print books.

But if the book is still in print, there's obviously a continuing intent by the author/publisher to profit from sales, and it is unethical to, in essence, steal that right to profit. So it appears to me that making a copy of the book is ethical only if you have personally bought a copy, which respects that right.

From this perspective, it seems to me that making a copy of a library book, where the book is still in print and you can buy one yourself, is not ethical. Basically, when you copy the library book, you are not copying a book you have bought. You are copying a book someone else bought. You have no more ethical right to do that than you have to copy your friend's purchased copy.

Making a copy of a library book is not time-shifting, although it might seem to be so superficially. Timeshifting involves your right to make a copy of something that the creator has sold you, even if he has sold it to you for free, as with a TV program. But the creator has not sold you the library book. He has sold the book to the library. Even assuming that in the sales agreement, the creator did not restrict the right to copy, it is only the library which has the right to timeshift.

So in my view, you can ethically copy a book which is no longer in print, but you can't copy one that is in print unless you buy your own copy.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:21 PM   #55
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So in my view, you can ethically copy a book which is no longer in print, but you can't copy one that is in print unless you buy your own copy.
You make a good case, and I agree with you, with some provisos
  1. There must not be readily available second-hand copies. e.g. if second hand copies either can't be found, or are going for more than full retail of a new hardback.
  2. You express your interest in a new print run/edition to the author or publisher.
  3. If the books becomes available again due to a new print run or edition, you buy a copy.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:58 PM   #56
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It seems to me that if a book has been allowed to go out of print, it amounts to an abandonment the right to make a profit. Now, there could be some quibbling about this point, as when the author still wants to sell the book but can't find anyone who will publish it. But on the whole, I think it is reasonable to suppose that a book goes out of print because there's no longer any profit to be made.
While I would generally agree, Disney is well-known example to the contrary. Who's to say something was taken off the market due to abandonment, or whether it was taken off the market to generate more sales later if/when it becomes available again?
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:47 PM   #57
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Yes. Spot on.

If you buy a 2nd-hand out of print book and retain it, you reduce the supply of 2nd-hand copies of that book. If the second-hand market runs low and demand increases, some publisher might investigate the possibility of a new print run.

Again, look at what happens if everyone does it.

If people buy up second-hand copies and retain them (even if they also make personal-use copies as well), the chances of a new print run or a new edition are quite high.

If people just borrow the existing copies from libraries and make copies for themselves before returning the book to the library, there is no chance of a new print run or a new edition.
Suppose all people buying second hand book sell them back after they have read/copied them then?
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:59 PM   #58
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Suppose all people buying second hand book sell them back after they have read/copied them then?
I did cover that in my post. "and retain it."

Buying a book, whether second-hand or not, copying it and then reselling the original and keeping the copy is not ethical.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:20 PM   #59
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You make a good case, and I agree with you, with some provisos
  1. There must not be readily available second-hand copies. e.g. if second hand copies either can't be found, or are going for more than full retail of a new hardback.
  2. You express your interest in a new print run/edition to the author or publisher.
  3. If the books becomes available again due to a new print run or edition, you buy a copy.
On point one, I think that the question of second hand availablity doesn't make any difference. I mean, where's the ethical obligation to buy a second hand book? It doesn't benefit the author/publisher in any significant way that I can see. Seems to me to be just like making a copy.

On point two, I think that would be useful feedback, but it appears to me that it would take much more effort than it is worth. I expect it would make the author feel better, though, so it would be a nice thing to do.

On point three, I think that the ethical obligation is to buy it rather than copy it, if it is available for purchase when you want it or need it. But if the author/publisher has not made it available at that point, I see no ethical need to reward them when they change their mind. You might want to do that as practical encouragement, though!
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:40 PM   #60
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While I would generally agree, Disney is well-known example to the contrary. Who's to say something was taken off the market due to abandonment, or whether it was taken off the market to generate more sales later if/when it becomes available again?
The purpose of the copyright laws is not merely to maximize the creator's profits. It is also to make books available to the public. So when the book is out of print because Disney is manipulating the market, I don't see what difference that - or any other - reason makes. Out of print is out of print.
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