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Old 07-14-2009, 03:48 AM   #16
HarryT
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Anything which they have added to the original text will be covered by their copyright. This is perfectly legal.
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Old 07-14-2009, 05:15 AM   #17
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What gets me is the line, "No part of this ebook may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the copyright owner." Which implies rather strongly that most/all of the ebook *has* a copyright owner, rather than that the bulk of the text is in the public domain, and only the fragments they added are copyrighted.
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Old 07-14-2009, 05:23 AM   #18
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You're absolutely right - it is extremely misleading. Unfortunately, it's probably not actually illegal.
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Old 07-14-2009, 03:30 PM   #19
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It hasn't been challenged because it's hard to prove damages by someone claiming ownership of public domain works. Who's harmed by placing fences around what's supposed to be a commons?

I'm hoping that sometime soon, some bright lawyer or nonprofit copyfight org figures out how to describe the damage done by attempting to restrict use of public domain works. (Class action lawsuit on behalf of "the US public?" With damages to be awarded to the LoC's copyright office, so they can afford to hire enough people to actually register all the new submissions, and potentially start digitizing the backlist of registrations so people can easily find out if works are available for anyone's use?)
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Old 07-14-2009, 03:54 PM   #20
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Anything which they have added to the original text will be covered by their copyright. This is perfectly legal.
I doubt that spelling corrections is covered by copyright.

And in this case it seemed that the work had made it truer to the original copyrighted work so then anybody could take this work and do whatever they want with it.
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:28 PM   #21
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We'll I've been reading all the commentary here and I still plan on releasing the ebook on Amazon and FictionWise, but I think I will release a copy here on MobileRead in .mobi and .epub formats. It doesn't sound like I have any rights whatsoever for the work I have done on this project.

I would have thought I would have some rights to the HTML formatting code I wrote, but not the text itself. I find this somewhat odd, because I know if I were to reprint the original book, you could not just walk into a bookstore and take it without paying for it even though the text itself is in the public domain. If that were true why would anyone bother to reprint classic books such as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer".

But at the same time you could theoretically find dozens or even 1000's of printed editions of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". I have looked at the Gutenberg Projects rendition of this particular book and I would not be satisfied with this rendition in either print or ebook format as I don't feel that it matches the original printings formatting very well. And even in a bookstore you can glance through the book to see if it is an edition that you would like to read.

It sounds like to me you could buy any public domain ebook from Amazon and then publish it for sell without change as long as the images in the ebook are in the public domain as well.

For example; I know that Goodmountain books distributes Project Gutenberg ebooks on Amazon.com. They are required to pay Project Gutenberg for using their name. The only thing else I've seen in the preview copies of their books is a few words about copyright and a picture of their logo, which I guess is the only thing in the book they have a copyright on as I saw no other commentary. But I'm not impressed with them leaving the "--" instead of replacing them with an "Ś".

I guess my best recourse is to put a copyright page that states that the text itself is in the public domain, but I won't mention Archive.org, Project Gutenberg or MobileRead as I do not want to infringe upon their copyrighted names. But of course I will give myself credit (or blame) for proofreading and formatting this edition.

Thanks,
Etienne66
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:02 AM   #22
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I would have thought I would have some rights to the HTML formatting code I wrote, but not the text itself.
You do. As I've said previously, in the UK and most other countries (but perhaps not the US), you automatically hold a "typographical copyright" on the formatting of the book which lasts for 25 years. Although the text itself is in the public domain, people can't just make direct copies of your version of it. They can reformat it and THEN do what they wish with it, however.

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I find this somewhat odd, because I know if I were to reprint the original book, you could not just walk into a bookstore and take it without paying for it even though the text itself is in the public domain. If that were true why would anyone bother to reprint classic books such as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer".
In the case of a printed book, it's the physical object itself that you're buying. It's a very different situation.

Most publishers who are "serious" about classics - eg "Oxford World Classics" or "Penguin Classics" - add scholarly introductions, footnotes, etc, to them. That's why they are sold as full-priced paperbacks and why people buy them. Publishers who reprint just the public domain text generally sell their books very, very cheaply.

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It sounds like to me you could buy any public domain ebook from Amazon and then publish it for sell without change as long as the images in the ebook are in the public domain as well.
Yes, that's pretty much true, but note what I said above about typographical copyrights.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:22 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
You do. As I've said previously, in the UK and most other countries (but perhaps not the US), you automatically hold a "typographical copyright" on the formatting of the book which lasts for 25 years. Although the text itself is in the public domain, people can't just make direct copies of your version of it. They can reformat it and THEN do what they wish with it, however.
I suppose that it has to be non-trivial HTML code in the sense that if you re-format it in the obvious way and end up with nearly the same HTML code it should be OK to distribute.

Quote:
publishers who are "serious" about classics - eg "Oxford World Classics" or "Penguin Classics" - add scholarly introductions, footnotes, etc, to them. That's why they are sold as full-priced paperbacks and why people buy them. Publishers who reprint just the public domain text generally sell their books very, very cheaply.
The paper editions with added material are usually still a bit cheaper than ordinary paper backs.
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