Originally Posted by nekokami
I can't promise it's legal to download copies of books you have, either. As I said, I'm not a lawyer. But it seems to me that it ought to be legal to scan them yourself under "fair use," so it ought to be legal to get a copy that someone else has scanned, if you already own the book in paper. (This is all according to my understanding of U.S. law, and may not apply in other countries.)
The problem is that "fair use" is a *defense* and not a *right*. (Sadly). It's also not absolute. So it's not "legal under fair use", but if you get sued, you can claim "fair use" and hope that the judge sees it your way. You might not have an airtight case, either... While you're using the book for personal use, and you're not affecting the market (as long as it's not available in ebook form), you are using the whole work, and if it's a novel it's made up out of whole cloth (as opposed to being mostly factual, which is easier to claim).
Then, of course, even if the judge agrees with you this time, a different person under the exact same circumstances might be found liable, since "fair use" isn't absolute. So really, you can't know whether downloading a work you own is legal or not until you've gone through court to find out. (At least, if you're relying on Fair Use.)
I should note that you're not likely at all to get sued for this, as no one is tracking ebook downloaders, and even if they were, they would likely take the same tack as the music industry and go after uploaders, instead. Also, this isn't a criminal copyright offense, so you can't be "found guilty" or sent to jail, it's a civil offense, so you can only be found liable and fined. (Again, not that that would actually happen...) So it's not like robbing a bank, it's more like not maintaining your sidewalk and having someone slip and fall. Are you liable? No one knows until the judge or jury says. (WARNING: This may be a terrible analogy.)
I should also note that I'm not a lawyer, I'm just a hobbyist who likes copyright law too much for his own good ;-)
Here's a page on the fair use defense: http://www.utsystem.edu/OGC/intellec...ypol2.htm#test