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Old 02-27-2015, 01:16 AM   #1
AlexBell
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Public Domain, ePub, and copyright

I'm not sure where this post should go, but I've put it in the ePub forum because I'm seeking comment from people who are familiar with ePub formatting. I apologise in advance to the moderator if it needs to be moved.

The background is that there there is a thread in another forum which has died out, at

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=255794

dealing with the fact that there are several ebooks on the Kobo site which are known to have been taken from the MobileRead library. I accept of course that the main text of these ebooks is in the Public Domain, even if the person who uploaded the ebook has taken great trouble to correct typos and so on.

And ePub ebooks are not just text files. There are the CSS, the content.opf file and the toc.ncx file, without which the ePub won't work or be readable. And many of us spend a great deal of time researching and writing our own original material to go in the description section of the content.opf file.

So, at last, my question: Is the material we put into the description area of the content.opf file copyright? If so, is there a minimal amount of of material to make it copyright?

Can anyone point me to references where this question is addressed?
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Old 02-27-2015, 06:27 AM   #2
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I can't point you to any references, but I understand that ANYTHING I add to a book is my original work and is copyright by me, whether it is text or editing or book design, and I think the last includes formatting.
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Old 02-27-2015, 07:43 AM   #3
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But we are talking about formating content that is in the public domain. The blade cuts two ways. What about scanning the work? That is effort too. I think this type of scam is something we just have to live with. Better than having all the copyright problems in the public domain too.
Back to topic: You could write an introduction or add explanatory footnotes to the text. Both would be your intellectual property. Of course they could just rip that out, but at least it would require effort on their side.
Another way would be to contact the shops selling the books. Even if it is legal, they don't have to sell them. Maybe they don't want to be associated with such behavior or want to protect their customers and stop selling them. As someone said in the other thread, amazon for example wouldn't sell this books.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:28 AM   #4
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Copyright is only extended to original work which has a creative component.

content.opf and toc.ncx are just lists, so not creative, so not copyrightable by any reasonable metric.

The CSS might be ---- if there's a significant creative component.
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Old 02-27-2015, 03:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Copyright is only extended to original work which has a creative component.

content.opf and toc.ncx are just lists, so not creative, so not copyrightable by any reasonable metric.

The CSS might be ---- if there's a significant creative component.
Quite true. Even CSS cannot be copyrighted. If there is enough added text and comments within the book that portion can be copyrighted if it is original. Style and looks are not copyrightable, only content. Original images can be copyrighted as well.

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Old 02-27-2015, 10:56 PM   #6
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Thanks for all your comments.
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:42 AM   #7
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It's irritating, I know (and I really do know!) when some sleazebag takes the work that you've put hundred of hours of effort into, and resells it to make a quick profit, but unfortunately that's the nature of the public domain. Best thing to do, as has been said, is to add a little introduction to the book. Doesn't need to be more than a paragraph. That will be your own work, and be protected by copyright.

Doesn't stop someone from stripping it out and selling the rest of the book, of course, but at least it means that they have to do a little work.
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:47 AM   #8
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Doesn't stop someone from stripping it out and selling the rest of the book, of course, but at least it means that they have to do a little work.
By the same token, nothing stops the original creator from issuing a take-down notice on the ground that his work has been plagiarized. From the stories I've seen on the KDP forums, Amazon regularly takes down books that others, with slim or no justification, claim violates a copyright.

The book might well come back again, of course. It all depends on one's appetite for retaliation.
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:52 AM   #9
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By the same token, nothing stops the original creator from issuing a take-down notice on the ground that his work has been plagiarized.
Publishing a work that's in the public domain isn't plagiarism, though.
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Old 02-28-2015, 08:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
It's irritating, I know (and I really do know!) when some sleazebag takes the work that you've put hundred of hours of effort into, and resells it to make a quick profit, but unfortunately that's the nature of the public domain. Best thing to do, as has been said, is to add a little introduction to the book. Doesn't need to be more than a paragraph. That will be your own work, and be protected by copyright.

Doesn't stop someone from stripping it out and selling the rest of the book, of course, but at least it means that they have to do a little work.
Off-topic @HarryT:
Intellectual property laws discourages innovation, if everybody would go: "Oh you can't use this idea, it's mine and is protected by copyright laws" innovation would be minimized to nothing.
If you wrote a novel, or brought out a great idea in your book / article, wouldn't you like to see it used in different fields and inspire innovation? If you had protected it by copyright laws that would most likely not happen!
Quote:
Petra Moser has asserted that historical analysis suggests that intellectual property laws may harm innovation:

Overall, the weight of the existing historical evidence suggests that patent policies, which grant strong intellectual property rights to early generations of inventors, may discourage innovation. On the contrary, policies that encourage the diffusion of ideas and modify patent laws to facilitate entry and encourage competition may be an effective mechanism to encourage innovation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property#Criticisms


On-topic:
As I see it, any content you write in order to achieve the end result of your book should be protected under copyright laws.
It's kind of like tax paying, i.e. you are eligible to write money spent as a business expenditure if it was done in order to produce income. Meaning, if I have a small toy store and I decide to buy a jet, writing that as a business expenditure is ineligible.
Going back to your copyrights question, in my opinion, if you wrote something that adds value in order to drive for the end result, that being your ebook, it should be considered as your creation and protected by copyright. This of course may vary in different countries.

I don't think you should even consider trying to copyright anything but your book visuals, that is, the story (text, images) and the design it holds (css).

Last edited by odedta; 02-28-2015 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 02-28-2015, 08:26 AM   #11
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Off-topic @HarryT:
Intellectual property laws discourages innovation, if everybody would go: "Oh you can't use this idea, it's mine and is protected by copyright laws" innovation would be minimized to nothing.
If you wrote a novel, or brought out a great idea in your book / article, wouldn't you like to see it used in different fields and inspire innovation? If you had protected it by copyright laws that would most likely not happen!
"Ideas" are not protected by copyright; only their concrete expression. "A boy goes to a school for wizards" is an idea, and is not protected. "Harry Potter" is a concrete expression of that idea and is protected, but it doesn't stop anyone else from writing their own books about wizard schools.
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Old 02-28-2015, 08:39 AM   #12
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By the same token, nothing stops the original creator from issuing a take-down notice on the ground that his work has been plagiarized.
The original creator of a public domain work is unlikely to know anything about Internet.
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Old 02-28-2015, 11:57 AM   #13
Ralph Sir Edward
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As a sidebar, anything posted on this website would br copyrighted by the website owner or be in a Creative Commons situation, unlees the copyright was explicitly waived by the originator (Which I normally do on creative works).

Any poster has no copyright leg to stand on...
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:05 PM   #14
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As a sidebar, anything posted on this website would br copyrighted by the website owner or be in a Creative Commons situation, unlees the copyright was explicitly waived by the originator (Which I normally do on creative works).

Any poster has no copyright leg to stand on...
No, that's incorrect, Ralph. Posting anything on MR does not transfer its copyright to MR. The copyright is retained by the writer of the post.
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:09 PM   #15
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No, that's incorrect, Ralph. Posting anything on MR does not transfer its copyright to MR. The copyright is retained by the writer of the post.
Harry, here is the dislaimer off the MR Wiki:

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