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View Poll Results: When you buy a book, are you buying the content, or only the media?
When I buy a book, I'm buying the content, and moving that content between media types [physical/electronic] is covered 53 88.33%
I buy a specific media format [physical/elec]. If I want the content in a different format I have to re-buy it. 7 11.67%
Voters: 60. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-24-2009, 07:24 PM   #1
ZacWolf
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Copyright issues in replicating your library in eBook format

Howdy, I'm new to mobileread!

I have a question, that may be a touchy subject. I did a couple of searches but didn't get any hits...

What are the legal/copyright implications of replicating a physical book library, into eBook format.

I understand that doing a pure scan of your own books should be covered under fair use just like ripping copies of your own tapes/disks of music/video.

But what about using other, non-DRM, electronic sources for eBooks? If you have already bought the paper copy, and just want an electronic copy for your OWN use, does the source of that copy make a distinction?

This all sounds like the original mp3.com, which allowed you to place a CD into a local cd-rom drive, where it would scan the CD ID, and then grant you access to an electronic version that they had ripped. The courts rules that this was a violation of copyright, and shut down mp3.com

I guess it all boils down to what the consumer feels they are buying [content], vs. what the distributor feels they are selling [media].

Have there been any recent news or lawsuits specific to ebooks?

Last edited by ZacWolf; 11-24-2009 at 07:32 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 11-24-2009, 08:24 PM   #2
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It is a fine line though. When I buy an ebook I want to be able to lend it to friends like I would a traditional paper book, but I don't feel I should be able to print copies and give them away to people.

I think a 1 person looking at a book at one time rule is sensible. So I can virtually lend it to a friend and when they close the file, another friend can read it. That is the same way that 'Steam' (a computer gaming platform) works. I can install games on many different machines, but only have 1 instance of them open at a time. I have no problem with that level of DRM - it gives me the same rights I had with paper.
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Old 11-24-2009, 08:49 PM   #3
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I don't think you buy the content as such - that is still the property of the author - hence all the copyright laws. You simply purchase the right to use the purchased medium.

However, for personal use I think I should be allowed to 'copy' or print it. Having said that - I can't see myself being bothered to either print an eBook or scan a pBook
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:18 PM   #4
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AFAIK it's pretty well-established that you have the legal right to change your copy of the book into another format for private / non-commercial use, as long as you are not circumventing a DRM system in the process, or sharing it with millions of your bestest Internet buddies.

Ergo it is fully legal to convert a CD or vinyl record into a digital format, as long as you're using it just for yourself. If you repackaged the digital tracks on a mixed tape, did not secure the rights, and did not pay the requisite royalties, that's infringement.

Buying a paper copy however does not automatically entitle you to illegally procure a digital copy. If the publisher or retailer chooses to give you the ebook in conjunction with the paper copy, that's their choice.

And on a purely practical level, it is extraordinarily unlikely that anyone will go after you if you re-type or scan your own book collection for use on an ereader.

It's a bit of an abstract thought process, but really not that hard to follow. If you procure the document illegally, it's illegal. If you procure it legally and convert it legally, it's legal. The final results may be identical, but that doesn't matter. If I ask you to freely give me money (with no expectation you'll get it back) vs pick your pocket, the end result is the same (I get the money) but the former is legal, the latter is not.
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:25 PM   #5
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I think you should be buying the content and be able to munge it in to whatever format you require to view.

However, I don't think that is what the law in my country states. For music, it was only last year that Australians were legally allowed to rip their CDs to a portable music device. I think that currently there are no similar provisions even for other content types.

IANAL, research this on your own
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:38 PM   #6
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AFAIK it's not a violation of copyright law to scan your own pbook. Downloading a digital copy created by someone else *is* a violation because it's not your copy. A problem here is that the argument would probably be heard by a jury (in the US). So a defense based on something that doesn't make sense to the jury probably wouldn't work.

For example, if whoever was prosecuting this could prove that you had downloaded a version, you might argue that you had, but had also scanned your own & that the scanned version was the one you kept. Technically, this defense should work-but what jury would believe it?

OTOH I think it's doubtful that they'd prosecute for copyright violation in these circumstances. Too iffy to spend the time on, but it really depends on the prosecutor. If all they really want is the publicity, they might try just about anything.
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fugazied View Post
I can install games on many different machines, but only have 1 instance of them open at a time. I have no problem with that level of DRM - it gives me the same rights I had with paper.
Are you okay with a 3rd party (such as Steam in this case) having a list of everything you have read (and the times when you opened it)?
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
AFAIK it's pretty well-established that you have the legal right to change your copy of the book into another format for private / non-commercial use
I'll assume that people are talking about the US here, since the law is very different in other countries.

The actual position in the U.S.A. is that you have a affirmative defence ('fair use') which you could use if you were prosecuted for making a copy. Technically that's very different to a 'right', in that the validity of the defence is liable to be tested in court and the burden lies on the defendant to prove that the copying fell within the allowances granted by the fair use clause. The four factors governing fair use are:
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
It should also be noted that the section covering fair use refers to "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research".

To my knowledge, no-one has been prosecuted for ripping a CD to an iPod, or any other form of format conversion. So its legal status is undefined. Obviously the landmark case in this field is the Betamax ruling, but it should be noted that this concerned time shifting and was not directed at the people actually doing the copying.

Obviously, format-shifting is widespread and is widely-regarded as a legal activity by ordinary people. The sad fact is that copyright law needs extensive reform to make it more coherent with the wishes of the people.
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Old 11-25-2009, 01:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Katti's Cat View Post
I don't think you buy the content as such - that is still the property of the author - hence all the copyright laws. You simply purchase the right to use the purchased medium.

However, for personal use I think I should be allowed to 'copy' or print it. Having said that - I can't see myself being bothered to either print an eBook or scan a pBook
I agree with you. The content belongs to the author and you purchase the right to use that particular medium.

I also agree that most people would not be bother to print anebook or scan a pbook for themselves. The exception would be stuff that you had to purchase pbook and need to be able to access it electronically for soecific reasons. I had to do that for when I used to play D&D and wanted to make it easier to run the game.

Other than that, I think most people who scan a pboo or doing it so they can distribute multiple copies to people who have not paid for it. IMO this is not only illegal but immoral as well.
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Old 11-25-2009, 03:46 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
Ergo it is fully legal to convert a CD or vinyl record into a digital format, as long as you're using it just for yourself. If
That's a rather sweeping generalisation. It may be legal where you live, but it is most definitely NOT legal at present where I live, in the UK.
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Old 11-25-2009, 08:18 AM   #11
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I don't know (american) law well enough, however

When you buy a book, you buy a medium with content. In German it is a "Sache", it is a property.
When you buy an ebook, you obtain rights to read something, e.g. a book, but you get no property. Otherwise DRM would not be possible.

Bye
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Old 11-25-2009, 08:24 AM   #12
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I'm not sure I understand whether the OP means 'what is actually legal' or what 'I think is right and perhaps should be legal'.

In my country there's a distinction between so-called 'analog' and 'digital' media. An analog media would be, for example, a paper book or a vinyl record or a VHS tape.

Anything I buy and own, I can convert into what form I would like, provided I do it myself and it's for private, personal use, and I don't break any copy protection (except if it's the only way I can access the content).

Anything I borrow, I can only copy from analog to analog - such as using a copier to make a paper copy of a library book, but I can't rip a CD I borrow. I belive the reasoning behind this distinction is that analog copying typically involves data loss, while digital copying does not.

This law does not really deal with books - it's from the time when there was all that controversy about mp3 and music sharing. Copying of p-books require much more work. So as for own thoughts, I don't feel bad about the scans I have made of old, out of print, aquarium books I borrowed at the library. I think it's the only way I can be resonably certain I have access to them in 10 years time. I can't even buy them used.

@ZacWolf - does this answer any of your questions/thoughts?
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Old 11-25-2009, 10:34 AM   #13
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TechDirt Article

Excellent timing: An article on the topic from TechDirt:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/200...56097067.shtml

Sounds like the exact model taken by the music industry...
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Old 11-25-2009, 10:57 AM   #14
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I try to do what I believe is moral and ethical no matter whether it is legal or not. Personally, I think it should be legal to make digital copies of your own books for your own personal use. If it is illegal, I really don't care and won't lose any sleep over breaking the law.
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Old 11-25-2009, 10:58 AM   #15
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Thanks for the feedback everyone.

To clarify:

The poll is intended to be Opinion, not Law.
The post is intended to talk about the Legality of "ownership" of content vs media.

Some very excellent feedback everyone, thanks! From the feedback it seems that there remains a large gap between how we feel the laws should work, and how they actually do. No big surprise there since copyright law seems to be industry written legislation that is simply regurgitate by governments [many of whom have a financial stake in said industries].

My take away is that the judgment against mp3.com is pretty much the gold standard in the US. That being "fair use" covers SELF manipulation of content between formats (ripping, scanning), but does NOT cover "acquiring" (file sharing) different media types based on ownership of a physical copy of the content. It seems so counter-intuitive that the source of the end-result (the electronic copy) should have any legal baring on legality, but clearly it does.

I think the whole issue of loaning/borrowing is the one key point where book publishers differ from music distributors; and I think it will be very interesting how that all plays out in application of recent legal arguments that have been tailored to the music/video industries. The fact that we've had libraries since we've had writing may be the sticking point in jury deliberations regarding ebook cases.

Thanks!
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