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Old 06-19-2008, 11:58 PM   #1
DeusExMe
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Question Kindle Shopping on Amazon and copyright issues which may result...

In the United States anything published after 1923 is still under copyright. Therefore, when someone in the US purchases a works or complete works compilation on the Kindle which contains material published after 1923 (though still long ago) he is placing copyrighted materials on the Kindle. If that compilation was originally taken from Project Gutenberg, formatted, and put up for sale on the Kindle, the existing copyright is not being honored. Which means by doing so, that US citizen is breaking his country's copyright law. Are there any errors in my logic, here?

I purchased the Complete Works of Gilbert Kieth Chesterton from Amazon, only to find out that some of Chesterton's work was published after 1923... I am a US citizen living in the US. Is the only legally responsible thing to do therefore, to remove that compilation from my Kindle?

Also

How does one know what classic books (i.e. those which were probably taken from Project Gutenberg) on the Amazon Kindle shop have a deal to honor the copyright in place? Most are presumably just downloaded,formatted, and uploaded... Yet some of us live in the U.S.A. where copyright law is (from what I understand) a bit different.

Forgive me if I sound ignorant... I am trying to learn here...
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:05 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by DeusExMe View Post
I purchased the Complete Works of Gilbert Kieth Chesterton from Amazon, only to find out that some of Chesterton's work was published after 1923... I am a US citizen living in the US. Is the only legally responsible thing to do therefore, to remove that compilation from my Kindle?
Not at all. I am sure amazon has permission from the copyright holder, probably via the publisher to sell you a copy of that work. So, your copy is perfectly legitimate. Now, if you were to copy it, without permission from the copyright holder and distribute it, then you would be in violation of the copyright.

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Old 06-20-2008, 12:10 AM   #3
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Project Gutenberg is subject to U.S. copyright law. If it is published on Gutenberg, then either it is in the public domain in the US or they have explicit permission to publish. Most such works are in the public domain in the US, which means that anyone can do anything they want with it (including selling it on Amazon). If you buy a book from Amazon, it is my understanding that they are warranting that they have permission of the copyright holder (if any) to sell it to you. Even morally, buying from a reputable vendor would seems to be enough.

See Gutenberg:Copyright FAQ.

Last edited by wallcraft; 06-20-2008 at 12:13 AM. Reason: link to FAQ
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:12 AM   #4
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I was under the impression that anyone could place a book for sale on Amazon. So I figured that works such as this one were the result of some user and not Amazon itself, sort of like the Amazon marketplace for traditional purchases.

Even so, I was further under the impression that Amazon or Sony or any of these sellers, simply downloaded from Project Gutenberg, formatted the file, uploaded to their site, set a price and began to sell.

These impressions were furthered since some of the books are not refined at all. It is as though they were downloaded and uploaded again with a new file extension and NO work was done on them. If they are not even formatting the text to be book-like in some cases it makes me wonder that they would take the time to get permission from the copyright holder...

Anyhow, thanks for the input.

Last edited by DeusExMe; 06-20-2008 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:18 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by DeusExMe View Post
I was under the impression that anyone could place a book for sale on Amazon. So I figured that works such as this one were the result of some user and not Amazon itself, sort of like the Amazon marketplace for traditional purchases.
I haven't look at the agreement... but I assume to do that, you must be the copyright holder of the book... or the work is under a copyright that allows you to do that, such as some of the creative commons licenses.

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Even so, I was further under the impression that Amazon or Sony or any of these sellers, simply downloaded from Project Gutenberg, formatted the fill, uploaded to their site, set a price and began to sell.
I rather doubt it. I am pretty sure Amazon and Sony aren't publishing books. They are getting them from publishers. However, if they are doing the above it is perfectly legal as long as the book is in the public domain.

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they would take the time to get permission from the copyright holder...
Copyright violation fines are per-incident. So, I doubt Sony or Amazon would risk those kinds of fines. However, they apparently do want to risk customer satisfaction.


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Old 06-20-2008, 11:15 AM   #6
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I wonder ('cause I don't know), if the way around the law is that you are paying for their formatting services rather than the book. The Bible is certainly public domain but people still buy it from various sellers (for the cover, the larger typeface, pictures, annotations... )
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:12 PM   #7
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U.S. Copyright is a little more subtle that just pre or post 1923. For anything published up to 1963 (4?), the copyright had to be renewed after 28 years. If it wasn't renewed, the copyright expired. Unforunately, there is no web repository of copyright information to check against. You have to go to Washington and search the archives.

(Hmm.....maybe a sideline for P.G.?)
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Old 06-26-2008, 11:30 AM   #8
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In reality, if you bought something from Amazon's Kindle Store for your Kindle and it turned out to be under a copyright violation, Amazon would most likely be held liable for the fault, and not you, if it were to go into a legal process. When you make a purchase from an established worldwide entity such as Amazon, it is understood that they go through the processes to ensure proper copyright action has been taken BEFORE the product makes it to the virtual shelf. I doubt any judge in the USA would find you at fault in this case.

Now if you purchased a copyright-violated work from somewhere else that might be a different story, but since the Amazon Kindle and Kindle store go hand in hand, the responsibility clearly falls to them.
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Old 06-26-2008, 11:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
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Now if you purchased a copyright-violated work from somewhere else that might be a different story, but since the Amazon Kindle and Kindle store go hand in hand, the responsibility clearly falls to them.
Sure... isn't the the person the "made" the "copy" the one that violated the copy right?

If you downloaded a copy of a copyrighted work assuming the source had permission to provide it to you, have you violated the copyright?

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Old 06-26-2008, 02:43 PM   #10
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A person that makes a copy of anything copyrighted without permission has indeed violated the copyright. However, anyone down the line that obtains a copy of that violated work is also in violation. For example, if I copy a copyrighted song from a friend's CD that I like and put it on my MP3 player, I have violated the copyright for that song. If I burn a copy of that song to a CD and give it to someone else and they choose to keep it, they are now in violation. Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse in a court of law. If you get clocked going 55 mph in a 30 mph zone and you tell the officer you didn't know that was the speed limit, odds are, you'll still get the ticket. If it goes to court, you'll still get the fine.

I'm not assuming anyone on here would ever do this, but if someone illegally copied an ebook and began "sharing" it via emails or their website (however), that one person will be subject to the copyright laws if caught. So will anyone else who obtained a copy from them...if caught.

About your second question:

You really answered your own question. If a person has permission from the source to distribute something, then nothing has been violated. A copyright protects the owner of said copyright from losing credit for their work (or money). If they own it, they can give it away all they want.
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:34 AM   #11
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The Bible is certainly public domain but people still buy it from various sellers (for the cover, the larger typeface, pictures, annotations... )
That's a very extreme generalisation!

Very few translations of the Bible are actually in the public domain. The overwhelming majority of Bible translations are still in copyright.

Remember that a translation gets its own copyright, based on the year of death of the translator. Whether or not the original source material is in the public domain is entirely irrelevent.
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Old 07-01-2008, 09:16 AM   #12
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A person that makes a copy of anything copyrighted without permission has indeed violated the copyright.
That depends on what you mean by permission. It is perfectly OK to copy anything for yourself without explicit permission in most countries.
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:00 AM   #13
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That's a very extreme generalisation!
That's me all over!
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:17 AM   #14
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That depends on what you mean by permission. It is perfectly OK to copy anything for yourself without explicit permission in most countries.
Well, in the United States you are allowed to make one "backup" or "convenience" copy of most CD's, movies, and books. The copy is supposed to be used while the original is stored for safe-keeping. The idea is that you pay for one copy and use one copy at a time. When you make MP3s of a CD you bought to put on your player, it is expected that you will keep the original in storage.

These laws are intended to keep the owner of the copyright from losing money. It's basically to prevent theft. There are nuances to the laws depending on what the actual usage is, educational applications, etc. But the spirit behind the law is that a consumer is ideally supposed to use the exact quantity of what he/she purchased. If you want two CD's, you're supposed to buy two CD's, not purchase one and then copy away to your heart's content. A consumer is "allowed" to make one copy so that the original can be protected.

In general people are greedy, and want all they can get for free. In general, businesses are greedy, wanting to charge as much as they can for as little as they can. Creators of copyrighted material are the ones who usually lose out because of high prices (which result in lower sales), and people who thoughtlessly make copy after copy (which is theft in MANY, but not all cases).

Our culture has evolved to such that's it's socially acceptable to make all kinds of copies of anything you've purchased, but just because it's socially accepted doesn't make it right.

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Old 07-01-2008, 11:04 AM   #15
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Now if you purchased a copyright-violated work from somewhere else that might be a different story, but since the Amazon Kindle and Kindle store go hand in hand, the responsibility clearly falls to them.
May be... but I'd be willing to bet that, if Amazon was fined for improperly selling a copywritten work, they would sue the person who posted the illicit work. In other words, if I wrongly posted Jurassic Park, and Amazon was sued for a million dollars for selling it, I'd expect to see their lawyers at my door presently.
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