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Old 11-23-2008, 12:53 PM   #1
KindleKid
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Releasing Out of Print Books?

So I've met some writers who have told me about perfecting your own style by transcribing the works of others. Essentially you pick apart a book to understand the author's language, structure, style etc. I've found it really helpful. You don't rip off the writer you understand the writer and gain perspective on your own abilities and style.

Anyway, I'm saying this, because I've transcribed a few works that are out of print and they are just sitting on my computer and can easily be put to .prc.

I understand that it's illegal to gain profit from another person's work (nor would I want to do that), but is there an issue with reproducing a work in a new format (ebook for example) and making it available for free?

As I've said these are out of print but some of them are as new (in copyright) as 1975. If I reproduced a book into ebook format crediting everything as it appears in the original and not mentioning myself anywhere and making it available for free, is there an issue?

Does it equate to concert bootlegs? Essentially if you have a recording you made of a performer and shared it with other publicly, this is legit as long as you do not profit from it. The Grateful Dead were real pioneers of this. The issue is, why would the law spend money stopping media from being distributed that isn't available on an official level anyway? If you have a concert that was never released on CD and someone is sharing, the record company isn't losing money on it. So why spend money to stop them?

Is this the case with out of print books too? If so, then I'll upload a few!
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:55 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by KindleKid View Post
I understand that it's illegal to gain profit from another person's work (nor would I want to do that), but is there an issue with reproducing a work in a new format (ebook for example) and making it available for free?
Yes, there certainly IS an issue. Unless the book is out of copyright, you'd be breaching copyright by releasing it. It is entirely irrevelent whether or not the book is currently in print.

There's no problem at all if the book is out of copyright.
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:56 PM   #3
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Okay cool. I just released the public domain ones then. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 11-23-2008, 04:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by KindleKid View Post
<<SNIP>>

I understand that it's illegal to gain profit from another person's work (nor would I want to do that), but is there an issue with reproducing a work in a new format (ebook for example) and making it available for free?

As I've said these are out of print but some of them are as new (in copyright) as 1975. If I reproduced a book into ebook format crediting everything as it appears in the original and not mentioning myself anywhere and making it available for free, is there an issue?

Does it equate to concert bootlegs? Essentially if you have a recording you made of a performer and shared it with other publicly, this is legit as long as you do not profit from it. The Grateful Dead were real pioneers of this. The issue is, why would the law spend money stopping media from being distributed that isn't available on an official level anyway? If you have a concert that was never released on CD and someone is sharing, the record company isn't losing money on it. So why spend money to stop them?

Is this the case with out of print books too? If so, then I'll upload a few!
Actually, concert bootlegs suffer from the same legal issues. The Grateful Dead explicitly authorized bootlegs of their concerts on the "don't profit from it" basis you mention. That explicit authorization by the copyright holders is what made it legal. Absent such authorization, it's just as illegal as any other breach of copyright.

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(IANAL, but this question is pretty basic)
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:25 PM   #5
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As I've said these are out of print but some of them are as new (in copyright) as 1975.
If you can find the authors, or their estates, they maybe able to give you permission to distribute the ebooks. For works that old, they are unlikely to have electronic versions and might welcome a cost free ebook version.
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Old 12-05-2008, 01:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by KindleKid View Post
Does it equate to concert bootlegs? Essentially if you have a recording you made of a performer and shared it with other publicly, this is legit as long as you do not profit from it. The Grateful Dead were real pioneers of this.
The Grateful Dead specifically allowed free amateur recordings of their concerts to be released. Other bands, not so much. GD realized that they're certainly not losing any money by encouraging fan activity... other bands & companies haven't hit this realization, and "that's a stupid policy" is not a legal defense against copyright infringement.

Although it's questionable whether they've got any right to prevent it--they can demand that attendees not bring recording equipment inside, and potentially sue for breach of contract if they do, but the recorder of an event owns copyright on that recording. However, the writer/CR owner of the song owns control of their works & publication/public performance thereof. (As I understand it, Prince's attorneys are currently going through hassles over YouTube releases of attendee recordings of Prince performing Radiohead's "Creep", a level of copyright tangle that gives me headaches.)

So:
Copying, converting, editing etc. books for personal use--falls under fair use. (In the US. Other countries may be different.)

Releasing those copies: same laws apply as if you photocopied it and handed out the photocopies. Being in print or not doesn't matter.

However, copyright, unlike trademark, is not a "use it or lose it" law--a copyright owner may allow some copies and forbid others. (Which means that one person's permission to distribute ebooks is not transferrable. Finding the book available on a free download site doesn't mean you're allowed to release a new version for different software.)
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Old 12-05-2008, 03:24 PM   #7
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The Grateful Dead specifically allowed free amateur recordings of their concerts to be released. Other bands, not so much. GD realized that they're certainly not losing any money by encouraging fan activity... other bands & companies haven't hit this realization, and "that's a stupid policy" is not a legal defense against copyright infringement.
My understanding is that bands make money when they go on tour... and not when they sell albums... the publishers make money when they sell albums. So, the more fans they had, the more concert revenue they could amass.

BOb
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