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Old 01-04-2010, 03:09 AM   #61
HarryT
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Thanks. I assume that this also means if I wanted to create a movie based on a Raymond Chandler novel I could air it in Canada without licensing but I'd need to pay to air it in the US, correct?

And if that's the case if I wanted to make a graphic novel based on The Big Sleep I would be free to sell it in Canada or host it on a Canadian server (for online viewing) but I would not be able to put it on a US server or sell it in book form in the US without licensing, correct?
If something is in the public domain in your country you can do whatever you wish with it.
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:30 AM   #62
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Nate, you forgot to link this (somewhat longer than article-length) book by James Boyle: The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind.. It really is a must read if you want an overview of the entire US IP rights landscape.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:21 AM   #63
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I think, Ralph, that Jellby was a little confused by the way that you expressed it, as I was myself. When you said:



you presumably meant "books that have been legally converted into electronic format, by virtue of being in the public domain", or something like that, yes? The "public domain" itself is just a legal concept - a book is in the public domain regardless of whether or not anyone has yet made it available to others.

I understand what you meant, but you just expressed it in a rather confusing way .

Some days I'm just incoherent....(And those are the good days!)

What I meant to say was that if you see a e-book text of a work that is now in the public domain, the e-text only exists because somebody went to the effort to convert the text from paper to electronic form. For expired copyright works, that means people like us. We do it not only for ourselves, but for the good of the public. And anybody who feels that a text that has fallen into the public domain needs to be made into an e-book, should convert it. You would be "paying forward" for all those e-texts you have already enjoyed...
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:24 AM   #64
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If something is in the public domain in your country you can do whatever you wish with it.
And it's still fine to distribute it in countries in which it is not public domain yet?
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:21 AM   #65
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And it's still fine to distribute it in countries in which it is not public domain yet?
No, certainly not. In case I was not clear, you can do whatever you wish with it in countries in which it is in the public domain.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:53 AM   #66
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Hmm... I wonder...

What happens if I (in Europe) buy from Fictionwise (in USA) a book that's PD in USA but not in Europe (say, one of Wodehouse's early works)? Shouldn't the book has geographic restrictions then? Isn't it a bit paradoxical that for some aspects (copyright) it's the seller location that matters but for others (distribution rights, taxes) it's the purchaser location? Or am I committing a crime by "legally" buying this book?
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:08 PM   #67
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Hmm... I wonder...

What happens if I (in Europe) buy from Fictionwise (in USA) a book that's PD in USA but not in Europe (say, one of Wodehouse's early works)? Shouldn't the book has geographic restrictions then? Isn't it a bit paradoxical that for some aspects (copyright) it's the seller location that matters but for others (distribution rights, taxes) it's the purchaser location? Or am I committing a crime by "legally" buying this book?
I believe that, in that circumstance, you would (technically) be breaking the law in downloading the book from Fictionwise. Fictionwise are perfectly within their rights to sell it - it's up to you to know that you shouldn't buy it.

Silly, isn't it?
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:48 PM   #68
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I believe that, in that circumstance, you would (technically) be breaking the law in downloading the book from Fictionwise. Fictionwise are perfectly within their rights to sell it - it's up to you to know that you shouldn't buy it.

Silly, isn't it?
Yep. But Fictionwise and other places cover themselves by talking about different rights and different locations, putting it on you to do the legal thing.

For that matter, MR maintains a Canadian (life+50) server, and a US server for stuff PD in the US. There are MR users who are probably breaking the law in their location by downloading some of the MR editions, but I very much doubt that stops anyone...

PG Australia has a whole section of books that are PD in Oz but not necessarily elsewhere, with the usual disclaimers. I suspect a glance at their http logs would show precious few of those downloads coming from within Australia.

Ultimately, this seems to be a "Whose ox gets gored?" issue on a practical level. For example, even though Margaret Mitchell's _Gone with the Wind_ should be PD, her estate is assiduous about going after folks offering electronic versions. Yes, you could probably beat that in court, but who has the time and money and desire to do that? No one thus far, which is why Mitchell's estate is effective in their efforts.

For the vast majority of PD here but not there editions, I suspect no one really cares, as they don't see monetary value in the properties.
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:57 PM   #69
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I believe that, in that circumstance, you would (technically) be breaking the law in downloading the book from Fictionwise. Fictionwise are perfectly within their rights to sell it - it's up to you to know that you shouldn't buy it.
I believe it's the other way around--you're not breaking any laws in buying and downloading it, but FW is infringing copyright by selling it in a jurisdiction where they don't have permission and it's not public domain.

Distribution is a violation of copyright law; reception isn't. If a book sold at a store and is ruled to be infringing on copyright, the buyers aren't liable.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:05 PM   #70
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I believe it's the other way around--you're not breaking any laws in buying and downloading it, but FW is infringing copyright by selling it in a jurisdiction where they don't have permission and it's not public domain.
Hmmm - I'm not at all sure that's right. Fictionwise can know what they can legally sell; they can't be expected to know what is or what is not in the public domain in every other country in the world; that's entirely unreasonable - surely it has to be the buyer's responsibility?
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:13 PM   #71
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Hmmm - I'm not at all sure that's right. Fictionwise can know what they can legally sell; they can't be expected to know what is or what is not in the public domain in every other country in the world; that's entirely unreasonable - surely it has to be the buyer's responsibility?
If they're selling in that country, it's their responsibility to know that their goods are legal. It's not the buyer's responsibility to confirm that a store is stocked with legal goods. I certainly don't go to a bookstore and research every potential purchase to find out if it's not violating copyright.

That digital content sales are considered to happen in the country of the buyer is ridiculous--but because of that, FW should be turning *off* sales to any country they don't know they have the right to sell in.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:17 PM   #72
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I find all this enormously confusing.

Why should any specific work be public domain in one country and not in another? It was most probably only created in one country, shouldn't the laws of this country apply?

Say I am in Greece. I realize that the greek translation of a book has a different copyright than the original and that is fair. But if I want to read the original of say, an australian author, why should the greek copyright laws apply, and not the australian ones? It's a book written by a non-greek, in a different country, in a different language, most probably not even available in greece at all.

Is there some underlying logic in all this that I just can't see?

And as ggareau suggested, if I travel to canada and create a graphic novel based on a book that is public domain there, I have the right to do it. Then I make it freely available on the internet, on a canadian server. Anyone not currently in canada who goes to my website and reads it is breaking the law? Even me, if I travel away from canada again, can I not read my own graphic novel? Isn't it absurd? Or is it just me?
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:27 PM   #73
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If they're selling in that country, it's their responsibility to know that their goods are legal. It's not the buyer's responsibility to confirm that a store is stocked with legal goods. I certainly don't go to a bookstore and research every potential purchase to find out if it's not violating copyright.
Your bookstore is unlikely to carry such items. They can only get from publishers/distributors what it is legal for them to sell.

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That digital content sales are considered to happen in the country of the buyer is ridiculous--but because of that, FW should be turning *off* sales to any country they don't know they have the right to sell in.
For commercial titles that must be purchased, they probably are. There was a flap a while back when one of the major publishers (Hachette, I think), pulled electronic versions from one of the ebook vendors, because Hachette didn't have the rights to offer the books in all places, but didn't think the ebook vendor had the mechanisms in place to enforce geographical restrictions. Hachette was concerned about lawsuits from the publishers who had the rights in those areas.

For stuff that is PD here but not there, how much should Fictionwise (or Barnes and Noble, who owns them) really care? People will care if they think there is money to be made or lost. I really don't see anyone going through the trouble of going after Fictionwise because a PD title they offer is not PD in some locations. The cost of doing so would far exceed any potential benefit.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:31 PM   #74
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I believe that, in that circumstance, you would (technically) be breaking the law in downloading the book from Fictionwise. Fictionwise are perfectly within their rights to sell it - it's up to you to know that you shouldn't buy it.
And why don't they do the same with geographic restrictions? If a given publisher does not have the right to sell something in a country, does the reason matter? It can be because of a contract, or because of public domain differences, or whatever... I, as a customer, should see no difference, it's all a publisher/bookseller affair.

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If they're selling in that country, it's their responsibility to know that their goods are legal. It's not the buyer's responsibility to confirm that a store is stocked with legal goods. I certainly don't go to a bookstore and research every potential purchase to find out if it's not violating copyright.

That digital content sales are considered to happen in the country of the buyer is ridiculous--but because of that, FW should be turning *off* sales to any country they don't know they have the right to sell in.
Exactly. I remember saying the same with all the Amazon-1984 affair...

But what interests me here is the difference between copyright/PD and geographic restrictions. They try to "sell" us geographic restrictions as something they must do to stay legal, yet they completely ignore copyright law differences...
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:36 PM   #75
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I really don't see anyone going through the trouble of going after Fictionwise because a PD title they offer is not PD in some locations. The cost of doing so would far exceed any potential benefit.
Why not? Wodehouse's current copyright holder/publisher might care. Maybe they're not all-powerful corporations, but some time they'll find someone that is.
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