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Old 07-06-2008, 10:51 AM   #1
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Images from Google Books, Internet Archive, etc.

I frequently find books at Project Gutenberg which originally were printed with excellent illustrations but the files available contain only text. I often find scans of the printed (illustrated) versions at Books or Internet Archive and nowhere else. So the question is: am I legally permitted to capture the images of the illustrations I want from those viewable scans (or downloadable PDFs) of public domain works and use them to create illustrated ebooks for posting here? I can't seem to find copyright information about the scanned images which, it seems to me, might themselves be protected. For example, a book I posted in text-only form is available in full-view here at Google:

http://books.google.com/books?id=rlQ...um=100#PPP1,M1

The only place I can see that might mention legal issues is here but I see nothing relevant to my question:

http://books.google.com/support/?fulldump=1

Ditto for this book that I posted for which the Internet Archive has a scanned copy:

http://www.archive.org/details/kasid...jiabd008491mbp

Their Terms of Use document is here:

http://www.archive.org/about/terms.php

Any thoughts or experience with this?
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Old 07-06-2008, 10:54 AM   #2
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i would think that if the book is in the PD, the illustrations logically should be also, no ?

it's true, it's so much nicer to have the illustrations in the ebook...
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Old 07-06-2008, 11:06 AM   #3
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You're right, VR. Illustrations have the same copyright laws as text. So for them to be in the public domain they need the same age information on the illustrator as the text does. Here's an example I know the names and dates of.

James Branch Cabell died May 1958. His main works (the biography of Dom Manuel the swineherd) were reissued in an beautifully illustrated set of books, Illustrated by Frank C. Pape'. Pape' died in 1972.

So in life + 50 countries, Cabell goes P.D. in Jan 1 2009.
Pape''s illustrations go P.D. in Jan 1, 2023.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-06-2008, 11:15 AM   #4
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Well, I'm not so sure, ZP. I think HarryT has mentioned this before that scanned images are like photos and are themselves intellectual property even though they are of illustrations which are in the public domain. One of the books I mentioned above is available here as scans of the illustrated book:

http://www.childrensbooksonline.org/...ican/index.htm

But the page has a copyright notice at the bottom and so I look at their home page and they have a paragraph which states:

"Feel free to enjoy our web site for your personal use only. All images, sounds, and text used on this website are protected under the federal No Electronic Theft Act of 1997. The Act specifies that individuals may risk criminal prosecution for willful, electronic infringement of copyrighted material, whether or not the infringing party derives any financial benefit from the infringement.":

http://www.childrensbooksonline.org/index.htm

I take that to mean that I cannot use their images (unless they gave me express permission to do so). And if that's the case for them, then what does it mean about Google, the Internet Archive, and others?

Last edited by vivaldirules; 07-06-2008 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 07-06-2008, 11:32 AM   #5
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That's correct - technically, you shouldn't use someone else's scan without permission, although I think you're unlikely to get into any trouble for doing so, for a work that's in the public domain.
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Old 07-06-2008, 11:32 AM   #6
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Thanks, Ralph Sir Edward. I understand that illustrations may enter the public domain at a different time than the text. But my intended question was about using images (which might not be in the public domain) of illustrations (which are in the public domain). If I could lay my hands on a physical copy of The Last American, I could scan it today and make an illustrated ebook that would be perfectly legal. But I don't have access to a copy of it so I would have to use someone else's scanned images which might (?) be intellectual property. I certainly don't want to do anything that would cause MR problems or that would infringe on someone else's business.

Last edited by vivaldirules; 07-06-2008 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 07-09-2008, 04:35 PM   #7
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*sigh* so many pointless complications... i don't understand how *anyone* could possible claim that a SCAN of SOMEONE ELSE'S illustration which is in the public domain could be considered their own intellectual property, protected by copyright... that makes no sense to me.

a hand-drawn *copy*, maybe. but a scan ??? seriously ???
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Old 07-09-2008, 04:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
*sigh* so many pointless complications... i don't understand how *anyone* could possible claim that a SCAN of SOMEONE ELSE'S illustration which is in the public domain could be considered their own intellectual property, protected by copyright... that makes no sense to me.

a hand-drawn *copy*, maybe. but a scan ??? seriously ???
I believe this may fall under the heading of a "compilation copyright". The individual bits are PD, but the assembly and packaging belongs to the producer.

This is the reason why you can do what you like with PG texts, but may be required to remove any PG branding and notices, because what you are producing isn't a PG edition.
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Old 07-09-2008, 04:47 PM   #9
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just a lone jpg of a scan of a PD work can be considered a compilation, with a copyright ? that still seems unreasonable to me.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:06 PM   #10
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I agree, Zelda. But somewhere I think I've seen such images of scans of public domain works with a watermark on it, presumably to prevent you from copying it. Actually, maybe I'm thinking about art work. If you a museum owns an original Picasso, I think they own the rights to all images taken of it. But maybe that's different from a book illustration somehow. Heck, I don't know.

Anyway, I'm working on two books right now using scanned images of the illustrations from Google and the Internet Archive and I'll be posting them in a few days. Before then, I hope someone will set me straight as to whether it is appropriate for me to do that. I can appreciate Harry's warning to be careful. But I'm not sure how to do that except by avoiding doing it at all.
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Old 07-12-2008, 05:09 AM   #11
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Posting a credit to the source of the images is probably sufficient.
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Old 07-12-2008, 05:11 AM   #12
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just a lone jpg of a scan of a PD work can be considered a compilation, with a copyright ? that still seems unreasonable to me.
If you take a photograph of a page of a PD book (and that's really all that a scan is), then that photograph is your intellectual property, irrespective of what's displayed on it. A scan is the same. I very much doubt that anyone's going to object, practically speaking, to you using their scan, but in theory I think they could do.
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Old 07-12-2008, 02:56 PM   #13
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If you take a photograph of a page of a PD book (and that's really all that a scan is), then that photograph is your intellectual property, irrespective of what's displayed on it. A scan is the same. I very much doubt that anyone's going to object, practically speaking, to you using their scan, but in theory I think they could do.
I am not sure I would agree that a scan is covered under copyright the way a picture is. A picture is a photograph and may have artistic value and may even have special permissions from the subject. They are copyrighted as artistic works as are books. Just because something is a jpeg image does not mean that it is automatically copyrighted. It is not the representation media that is copyrighted. A scan is more like a copy machine. Copy machine items are not separately copyrighted.

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Old 07-12-2008, 03:11 PM   #14
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I am not sure I would agree that a scan is covered under copyright the way a picture is. A picture is a photograph and may have artistic value and may even have special permissions from the subject. They are copyrighted as artistic works as are books. Just because something is a jpeg image does not mean that it is automatically copyrighted. It is not the representation media that is copyrighted. A scan is more like a copy machine. Copy machine items are not separately copyrighted.

Dale
that would seem a lot more reasonable to me.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:39 PM   #15
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Speaking about the US: scans of public domain items are themselves in the public domain. The amount of work people have put into creating a copy does not enter into it: for a work to be copyright it needs to have originality. Which is a legal term that unfortunately means something completely different than in regular English.

Don't believe me, believe a court of law. The definitive case (again: for the US!) is Bridgeman vs. Corel.

Claiming or suggesting otherwise by using harsh copyright disclaimers or watermarks is something called copyfraud. Unfortunately copyfraud is not illegal in most countries.

Although the principles underlying Bridgeman are valid in most countries, a lot of jurisdictions have exceptions that give a minor copyright (typically somewhere between 20 and 50 years after creation) to so-called sweat-of-the-brow work, that is: labour that does not require originality. Project Gutenberg works from the assumption that sweat of the brow does not create a copyright in the US, and so far it has managed to stay out of the clutches of copyright rent-seekers (but not for want of trying).

Collections can have a compilation copyright in the US. This is because making the selection for a compilation is considered an act of authorship: making the selection has originality. However, this only prohibits you from copying the entire selection or recognizable chunks from it. Copying a single work from a collection of public domain works is not copyright infringement.

The Project Gutenberg license has nothing to do with compilation copyrights though: it is a trademark license. It prohibits you from distributing books as genuine Project Gutenberg books if you don't adhere to the license. Simply strip out the license and you're fine (funnily enough in most Project Gutenberg books, the license is the only copyrighted part).

IANAL, but I am a Project Gutenberg volunteer, and I can tell you that we would be in extremely hot water if scans of public domain works were copyrighted. Having said that, at Distributed Proofreaders we often adhere to reasonable requests by scan archives (for instance requests to be credited), simply because we want to maintain good working relations with these archives.

To answer vivaldirules' original question: if you are in the US, and the page scans are from a book published before 1923, the scans themselves are in the public domain.
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