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Old 08-12-2010, 06:56 AM   #16
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Although he's certainly in the right morally, from a legal perspective that's a very dubious claim. A copy of a public domain image is (generally speaking at least) itself in the public domain.
Wasn't there some conflict between Wikipedia and museums, because it was claimed that, although the pictures in the museums were public domain (when they were), the photographs of these pictures were not?
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:47 AM   #17
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Yes - it was the National Portrait Gallery in London, if memory serves me correctly.
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Old 08-12-2010, 08:01 AM   #18
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A legally taken photograph is the copyright of the photographer, Jellby, unless rights have been specifically assigned elsewhere. I couldn't, for instance, reproduce a picture postcard image of, say, Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower as the whole or part of cover art without the necessary permissions from whoever holds rights to the picture itself. Cheers. Neil
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Old 08-12-2010, 08:09 AM   #19
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A legally taken photograph is the copyright of the photographer, Jellby, unless rights have been specifically assigned elsewhere. I couldn't, for instance, reproduce a picture postcard image of, say, Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower as the whole or part of cover art without the necessary permissions from whoever holds rights to the picture itself. Cheers. Neil
The issue in this case was that the NPG had spent a great deal of money digitizing their collection, and license the image rights as a way of funding the gallery. UK copyright law (and I believe that in the rest of the EU, too) has a so-called "sweat of the brow" clause, granting copyright in cases where considerable work has gone into producing a reproduction, even of a public domain image. Apparently US copyright law does not have such a clause, and Wikipedia claimed that they were within their rights to reproduce these images. For more details, see here.

I'm pretty sure, however, that this would not apply to scanned magazine images, since little effort or expense would be expended in producing them.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:00 AM   #20
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For instance, the generous Harry T's exclellent treatment of books he so painstakingly prepares, proof reads and formats is, in my opinion, his intellectual property. The treatment, I mean; not the content. The actual law is a little shady on this point, but I for one would never dream of lifting Harry's work on content and merely re-packaging for commercial publication. I can only hope that many others share this moral code.
I really hope people do not share this code. If it is in public domain then it should stay in public domain. If you fix a spelling error it should not remove the text from public domain. The point with public domain is that people can build on other people's work and make things much better.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:04 AM   #21
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I couldn't, for instance, reproduce a picture postcard image of, say, Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower as the whole or part of cover art without the necessary permissions from whoever holds rights to the picture itself. Cheers. Neil
That's because such an image is a creative composition, and creativity is a key requirement for copyright. A straightforward scan of a public domain book or painting involves no creativity, and hence acquires no copyright.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:05 AM   #22
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I really hope people do not share this code. If it is in public domain then it should stay in public domain. If you fix a spelling error it should not remove the text from public domain. The point with public domain is that people can build on other people's work and make things much better.
I actually agree with you. I certainly claim no "rights" in the books that I've uploaded here. I put them here for other people to enjoy.

Of course, if someone were to start selling them for commercial gain, I'd think that they were a slimy toad, but they wouldn't be doing anything illegal. Immoral, yes, but not illegal.
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:49 AM   #23
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I'm pretty sure, however, that this would not apply to scanned magazine images, since little effort or expense would be expended in producing them.
Well, I don't know about this particular case. But in my webpage I have some collections of illustrations (http://djelibeibi.unex.es/libros/ top row of buttons), these are scanned from printed books or extracted from scans available in the Internet, and there is considerable work in most of them: not only rotating and cropping, but normalizing the colour range, fixing highlights or shadows, cleaning up speckles and page translucency, sometimes joining scans of large pages...
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Old 08-12-2010, 11:06 AM   #24
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Well, I don't know about this particular case. But in my webpage I have some collections of illustrations (http://djelibeibi.unex.es/libros/ top row of buttons), these are scanned from printed books or extracted from scans available in the Internet, and there is considerable work in most of them: not only rotating and cropping, but normalizing the colour range, fixing highlights or shadows, cleaning up speckles and page translucency, sometimes joining scans of large pages...
You've obviously done a lot of work there, Jellby. On the whole, though, I agree with Tommy's viewpoint. All the eBooks I've posted here are based on other peoples' work, so I wouldn't feel comfortable in claiming any "ownership" of them. When something is in the public domain, we can all help to improve it.
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:43 PM   #25
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This discussion has led me to think of my original problem a little differently. Certainly the words of the PD book cannot be copyright once they enter the public domain. But computer programs are copyright - the computer code itself is. If I have spent significant effort writing my own creative computer code in order to layout a book, wrap text around images just right, flow text in poetry just right, etc., I certainly expect I should be able to copyright that computer code. It's more than just a 'scan and publish'.

I'd also like to go back to the original purpose: I brought this up to protect the rights of readers, not to restrict them. This isn't about me claiming exclusive rights to a book I've formatted so that I can sell it (even though the big publishers do exactly that). I'm thinking of something more like the GPL, which says if you make any derivative work, you must make it available for free. I'd be looking at a copyright licence that says you may not sell it or place DRM on it, and any derivative works must also carry these same terms.
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:47 PM   #26
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Of course, if someone were to start selling them for commercial gain, I'd think that they were a slimy toad, but they wouldn't be doing anything illegal. Immoral, yes, but not illegal.
Would you want to have some way to stop them from selling it?

Unfortunatetly, corporations don't behave morally. Often, they don't even behave legally. They do what will have the most significant postive impact on their profits, even if that means breaking the law and paying a few fines. Look at Microsoft as example: millions and millions in fines and they still continue to break the law. Because for them, it is profitable to do so. You expect some moral argument is going to stop that from happening?
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:48 PM   #27
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I'd also like to go back to the original purpose: I brought this up to protect the rights of readers, not to restrict them. This isn't about me claiming exclusive rights to a book I've formatted so that I can sell it (even though the big publishers do exactly that). I'm thinking of something more like the GPL, which says if you make any derivative work, you must make it available for free. I'd be looking at a copyright licence that says you may not sell it or place DRM on it, and any derivative works must also carry these same terms.
Read about Creative Commons which is a kind of GPL for books, photos and so on.
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Old 08-13-2010, 03:24 AM   #28
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Just for interest, let's take an extreme and hypothetical case of new input to a PD work: translation, for instance. If a book is in the Public Domain (internationally) but only in English before Angus McSporran spends two years of his expert time to fairly translate it into Scottish Gaelic, who holds copyright to the actual translation? Just a thought for the pot. Cheers. Neil
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:41 AM   #29
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Just for interest, let's take an extreme and hypothetical case of new input to a PD work: translation, for instance. If a book is in the Public Domain (internationally) but only in English before Angus McSporran spends two years of his expert time to fairly translate it into Scottish Gaelic, who holds copyright to the actual translation? Just a thought for the pot. Cheers. Neil
A translation has a copyright that is entirely independent of that of the original book, so in the case you quote, the copyright for the Gaelic translation would be owned by Mr. McSporran and would (in the UK) extend for 70 years following his death. This is the case, for example, with lots of the Penguin classics whose originals are in languages other than English. The original language text is in the public domain, but the translation is not.
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:55 AM   #30
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So perceived lesser new input to a PD title, Harry: re-proofing, text design, editorial introduction to the edition (this, perhaps more easily qualified), glossary, special and exclusive technical work on a print run, PoD, or ebook formatting, new cover work, (again more easily qualified), technology-enhanced original illustration, etc? Best. Neil
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