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ArmouredBlood

Reading books on pdf available at the library

Should textual copyrights change?  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. Should textual copyrights change?

    • Yes
      4
    • No
      3
    • Maybe
      3
    • Stop reading and get back to mapping!
      4


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So, I know most people on these boards are rather liberal, but I was wondering what your guys' opinions would be on this. A week or so ago there was a book thread on /tg/ and a guy uploaded and linked a zip of pdfs of a book series. The premise interested me, and I decided to snag em. I didn't think much of it at the time, but at the end of the second book I read the line:

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form
without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation
of the author’s rights.


Now, this got me thinking. I assumed this series was available in my local library, and yes, after a search, I found the whole series. So now I wonder if this copyright line is particularly justified. Yes, it adds some legality involved with possibly prosecuting someone, but it's a rather gray area considering the works are currently freely available to read for anyone with access to a library that has this book available. Considering that, it seems like the copyright has run out on everything available in libraries. The only reason to buy a book is to own a physical copy, as with enough patience, the book will become available at the library.

So there's only one point at which I can see an alternative involving a period of textual copyright and then electronic release with future printing run orders directly to the publishers not panning. The physical bookstores. They would only make money off new releases, and love getting a piece of the profit from continuous printing runs. This is especially apparent with textbooks, though your standard borders or barnes and noble won't carry many of the more specific college texts. There just wouldn't be the sheer variety of texts to sell, though even before the slump in the economy I didn't believe anything but new releases sold particularly well.

Perhaps ordering directly from the stores who go to the publishers would work, I'm not sure. But for a while now, books can be reasonably found as pdf texts, though with quite a few errors if the ones I found are good examples. The quality of pdfs and scans are nowhere near the actual sensation of reading the books, which is one advantage this practice will keep. For the time being. As we become more technologically advanced, it will become much closer, and things will change. I'm not sure what will happen then, but I'm sure something will. What do you guys think?

TL;DR: I downloaded pdfs of a book series my local library has, current book copyrighting is fitting the conditions of libraries and internet coexisting badly. opinions on morality?

P.S. sucks when your tldr is 2+ lines. Heh.

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Being able to sign the book out at the library has no effect on the book's copyright. You still have no legal right to copy it. Barring some kind of special exemptions, even the library itself can't copy works that they don't have the rights to, without some kind of licensing scheme. (I know the Canadian Copyright Act has several such exemptions, starting at section 30.1, but they're still pretty limited. I assume Fair Use applies for libraries in the states, but I don't know the extent of it.)

So since in most library cases, you're all still essentially sharing the same copy of a book, it doesn't really invalidate or negate the work's copyright, and it doesn't give a green light for people to share electronic copies however they want. If you privately organize an open group of people who swap the latest computer games around and share the cost, that doesn't mean they all have the right to copy the games and spread them as warez. I don't think the fact that the libraries are publicly funded would change this, either.

I'm not saying that this is a particularly practical way for copyright to operate anymore, but I'm not holding my breath for the laws to become less draconian any time soon either, so it seems a bit doubtful that there'll be reform to allow situations like what you're describing. I guess publishers/printers/authors/bookstores might start to grant more permissive licensing for sharing digital copies of their crap, but the amount of DRM in all of the officially issued e-books I've seen lately seems to go against that.

Then again, I don't really follow the book market much, so I can't really claim to know what's going on there well enough to speculate about the future.

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Clearly a library can only sign out as many copies as they paid for. That won't change. If it did, publishers/authors would be making less money and they certainly don't want that.

Sometimes you can use e-readers with libraries. I have no idea how they work out licensing for that. You still only get that copy for a limited time, though. Perhaps some type of Netflix-esque deal will appear where you pay a certain rate per month and you can read as many of any books as you want. That could be pretty sweet.

My favourite silliness about books is that blurb that says the book is stolen if you bought it with no cover. How could they assume that? I have a pile of books with no covers because the company that printed them did a poor job with the glue. There was an entire print run of Asimov's Foundation books with that issue.

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The local State Library is dabbling in e-books through a licensing arrangement that allows them to have x-number of copies signed out of each e-book title. I don't know what sort of copy protection they're using but would expect some sort of invisible watermark is being applied so they can identify the source of a leak.

@ArmouredBlood - being available at the public library doesn't make them public domain.

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I think we should stop encouraging all this e-booking and e-reading and e-everyfuckingthinghastobeelectronic. What happened to going to the library/bookstore and browsing the shelves, looking at book covers, and feeling the pages between your fingers. Maybe smelling the mustiness of old books, and being able to read without staring at a screen burning your eyes out so by 40 you CAN'T READ ANYMORE BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SEE. I also miss this about cd's now that most cd stores are gone.

There's my rant.

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Well I guess I'll just go to the library then, hahah. The only reason I read them so far was because it was simply convenient, to downloaded it and got to reading. Saved me the mere 15 minutes of going to the library and looking up the books. Not to mention I'm not checking them out yet so someone else could read them, if they were interested. I guess I'm just trying to justify being lazy. Though I do wonder what future laws will do ...

@ DH: I do read. A lot. I have a crapload of books in my house, many I've read at least twice. Some people just like having instant access to their book.

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I can read on a LCD a whole lot easier than physical books. That might be because I don't like bright lights inside. Then again, at least with the LCD you can change the font size and type if necessary. Can't do that with physical books. Also, physical books take up space and have mass, so they're not practical for everyone. I had litterally hundreds of books in TXT format on my Nintendo DS, and would read a couple chapters every night (in the dark) before falling asleep while I was camping in my truck. And since I now live in a travel trailer, space and weight considerations are critical, so I keep physical books and paper to bare minimum. If I ever rent a room or apartment somewhere, I'll do the same simply in order to remain mobile (don't want to accumulate a lot of shit). I also live in a very hot and humid (subtropical) climate, which causes books to degrade rapidly. So you see, there's lots of reasons to not want real books, even beyond saving trees. And if, for some strange reason, someone's eyes can't handle a quality LCD screen, then there's always e-paper (Kindle and similar devices). I think the days of paper books are numbered, especially since the e-book technology will continue to improve. Pretty soon, only die-hard collectors will want the pulp version.

But anyway, I don't like the library that much. It's not very convenient, because you have to get a card (not that easy if you're not a local resident), and then everything you borrow is potentially tracked. Then you have to waste time and gas going there and back. Yeah most US cities don't have good public transportation, so you drive everywhere and in my case it's a big 1/2 ton truck (because only that can pull my trailer). And then, if you miss the return deadline for some stupid reason, you have to pay a fine. Well that's a lot of negatives, too many for me to seriously consider using the library. I'll just download stuff I want to read, which usually is older stuff that should have been in public domain anyway if our corporate masters weren't constantly changing the rules towards infinity - 1 year (hey, that's "limited" right?)

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I swear I don't understand what you're all talking about here. The teal deer doesn't help.

If the author (and publishing house?) agrees that his (their) book be sold in electronic format, then it's ok.

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I love classics and it's really neat that you can pretty much get a free ebook version anywhere if something is over a certain age.

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I work for Barnes & Noble, so I'm seeing the shift to e-readers on a first-hand basis. You'd think that it would be old people who are the hold-outs, but it's actually quite the opposite. Old people seem to love the Nook, and it's mostly young people (browsing the manga, comics and RPG supplements which aren't available on e-readers) that are avoiding them, probably mainly because of the $200+ price tag.

Myself, I don't really have any sort of want for an e-reader. I love having a library of books at my disposal that will never crash on me or make me strain my eyes to read (I don't know what it is about reading books electronically that tires me so much). Also, like I said, they don't sell comics, manga, RPG supplements, or just about any novels based off of RPGs, tabletop games, or video games on e-readers, and I buy a lot of that stuff (well, not any manga).

As for copyright, it is a bit odd that libraries get to loan out literature for free, yet it's illegal to download the same texts, though I suppose this has to do with the limited supplies of libraries and the fact that it's just on loan. Also, literature is a VERY old format, so probably upwards of 70% of all surviving text isn't even covered by copyright, which is why stuff like Project Gutenburg exist.

Aliotroph? said:

My favourite silliness about books is that blurb that says the book is stolen if you bought it with no cover. How could they assume that? I have a pile of books with no covers because the company that printed them did a poor job with the glue. There was an entire print run of Asimov's Foundation books with that issue.

That's actually because booksellers are required to rip the covers off of books and magazines that don't sell when they write them off (and I think the publishers compensate them to a certain extent when they do). If that blurb didn't exist, then booksellers could just write their books off, rip off the covers and resell them, and the general public wouldn't be any wiser.

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The library has still paid for the books, and they only have a certain number of copies for people to temporarily read and then bring back. On the other hand a plain PDF (with no expiry or self-deletion malarky) can be copied millions of times and the only money the publisher ever recieved was for the copy that was scanned. So I imagine they wouldn't be happy.

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Yeah, ditto on the public domain classics. I actually used to host a local copy of every PD text catalogued by Project Gutenberg, but I lost it in a hard drive crash and it's not like they're suddenly going to disappear from the web or anything. Well, hopefully not.

printz said:

I swear I don't understand what you're all talking about here. The teal deer doesn't help.

If the author (and publishing house?) agrees that his (their) book be sold in electronic format, then it's ok.


This has nothing (or at least not much) to do with selling electronic texts. ArmouredBlood is saying that since you can check out books (the dead-tree kind) from a public library for free, then one could argue that it wouldn't be unethical to share digital copies of those books for free as well.

While this might be a nice idea, copyright restrictions can't be voided like that just because anybody can gain access to an existing copy for free. You still can't legally make unauthorized copies without permission from the copyright holder. Regardless of whether it's ethical or not to copy and share e-books, it's still infringement unless the text is public domain, or is licensed to facilitate sharing.

Whether or not the situation will change in the future due to the proliferation of e-readers and electronic literature is open for debate, but I'd imagine most authors and publishers would probably push for more restrictions on how you can use these things, not less.

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Mithran Denizen said:

This has nothing (or at least not much) to do with selling electronic texts. ArmouredBlood is saying that since you can check out books (the dead-tree kind) from a public library for free, then one could argue that it wouldn't be unethical to share digital copies of those books for free as well.

Oh, okay, but the "digital copy" part was the one puzzling me. Here, especially in college, it's very common to photocopy library books so as to have what to learn for an exam. And candy stores near the college are the ones selling the photocopies (they have xeroxes in them). It's a very well known fact and the authors are fully aware that it happens.

I'm pretty sure distributing them is copyright infringement like any other (if the author/publisher doesn't agree) and could very well turn into some form of piracy if counterfeiters will sell them more intensely. But at the scale of learning for college, it seems to be accepted (grey area?).

I think it's only safe to distribute copies without asking if the work is public domain, right?

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deathbringer said:

The library has still paid for the books, and they only have a certain number of copies for people to temporarily read and then bring back. On the other hand a plain PDF (with no expiry or self-deletion malarky) can be copied millions of times and the only money the publisher ever recieved was for the copy that was scanned. So I imagine they wouldn't be happy.


PDF? Nah, that's too complicated and inflexible. Better is plain old TXT, and not pre-formatted at a specific number of columns (thus letting the reader software handle all formatting). Or plain HTML+images if it's an illustrated book (thus letting the browser handle all formatting). Reading a PDF on a small LCD (3-4 inch screen, such as portable game console or small PDA) just doesn't work well.

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You'd think some kind of hypertext-like format would be the best, and is probably what these things use. Links in e-books make sense, as does markup for different blocks and elements so the reader can customize formatting appropriately (eg. some books have different text for things like computer readouts or recorded messages).

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Book > e-book. In addition to the many benefits of physical books already mentioned I just like the fact that when I own a book I really own it. If I'll buy an e-book it'll just be a file on my hard drive that I can't put on a shelf or consider as a part of some collection. With physical books I can, and the books themselves have certain value. The bytes of an e-book...not so much.

Also, books never run out of batteries, nor do they need to be connected to a wall socket.

Also also, exploring used book stores is fun (especially if they have some really old tomes). If such thing even existed, I'd imagine a used e-book store would be pretty boring.

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Jodwin said:

Book > e-book. In addition to the many benefits of physical books already mentioned I just like the fact that when I own a book I really own it. If I'll buy an e-book it'll just be a file on my hard drive that I can't put on a shelf or consider as a part of some collection. With physical books I can, and the books themselves have certain value. The bytes of an e-book...not so much.

Same old argument like how games in boxes are better than files purchased over the Internet. Yeah right. It's the contents that matters either way. Also, e-books let you do find commands (if they don't, they're wrongly made), and can be printed if you want them on paper.

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Aliotroph? said:

My favourite silliness about books is that blurb that says the book is stolen if you bought it with no cover. How could they assume that? I have a pile of books with no covers because the company that printed them did a poor job with the glue. There was an entire print run of Asimov's Foundation books with that issue.

I think the rationale there is that sometimes defective or damaged copies are "returned" by just sending the cover removed from the book. This saves shipping costs. This only works as long as the book cannot legally be sold without its cover. I think there might also be a concern that someone could take a paperback, bind it in their own hardback cover, and then sell it on at a much higher price, passing it off as an authentic hardback edition.

By the way, the author does get a small amount of money when a book is taken out of a library - it's called Public Lending Right, or something like that. This is in addition to any royalties from the sale of the copy to the library.

Obviously, scanning a book and distributing it online without permission is illegal, unless the work is out of copyright (and unless the author is long dead, or has explicitly waived all rights, that won't be the case). Even if the author is long dead, it could still be illegal, as there is also such a thing as design and typesetting copyright.

Photocopying can be copyright infringement, and there are long-standing rules on what is OK and what isn't. You have more leniency if a work is out of print, or if the photocopying is for educational purposes. If it is just a single copy for your own use, then it's unlikely to be a problem.

Most current commercial e-book formats don't allow printing.

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printz said:

Same old argument like how games in boxes are better than files purchased over the Internet. Yeah right. It's the contents that matters either way.

I'm materialistic. Sue me.

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Grazza said:

I think the rationale there is that sometimes defective or damaged copies are "returned" by just sending the cover removed from the book. This saves shipping costs. This only works as long as the book cannot legally be sold without its cover.

Ah yeah, that's right. I forgot that's what they did with the covers. I don't work book side so I don't have to know these things. :P

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Mithran Denizen said:

Whether or not the situation will change in the future due to the proliferation of e-readers and electronic literature is open for debate, but I'd imagine most authors and publishers would probably push for more restrictions on how you can use these things, not less.

The big problem with digital publishing is that without draconian rights management it's practically impossible for the author/publisher to control the number of copies in circulation or (without at least the threat of legal action for copyright infringement) derive income from unauthorised distribution channels. For purchasers the likely loss of a second-hand market could become a sticking point, it certainly will be for me if the licensing and/or technology don't permit the on-selling or gifting of e-books to third parties.

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There are so many words I could use to express my distaste for e-books in general. I'm sorry, but I like enjoying the feel of sitting out on a porch with a good beer and a book in my hand. I also like marking my favorite passages in books so I can go back and enjoy them over and over at any given time.

I also heard one of those contraptions make the sound of a page turning the other day, which, frankly, baffled me to know end. If they think the page turning noise is such a necessity that they had to integrate into a sound database, why not just let the fucking person buy the book in the first place? Hell, the person even moved their finger across the screen to turn the page... I.... okay, I admit I don't get it. What's more, I don't want to understand. I'm perfectly fine going out and buying the next dope Murakami release, then reading it.

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PDF just isn't the same as having the book in your hands. Sure text is text, but I hate staring at a monitor trying to read a book. It starts to hurt my eyes after a while. I think if I had a tablet, or Ebook reader of some kind it might be tolerable. The other issue with reading a PDF off a desktop or laptop is having a whole host of possible distractions at your fingertips. Not the best thing when I'm reading something important and need to take notes. Sure you can type/highlight or copy paste notes into text files; but I memorize things much better when I write them out with ye 'olde analog ink writing utensil and paper.

Students can also save money if they can find their text books online in PDF. Sure it breaks the law, and you got to stare at the screen, but for alot of people it beats spending $150+ dollars each for how many courses total. You can also do the whole "I'm just downloading this book to see if it's worth buying", like what people do with their warez games. Only you can't spend all the day in the videogame store playing the game and then put it back on the shelf :-)

There's no way I could have a proper leisure read with a pdf. I think only a tablet could change my mind. Then I wouldn't be able to enjoy beautiful and fine bounded books quite the same...

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I wonder why, if I can lend my "solid" book to a friend, I can't "lend" him the pdf.

The result in both cases is the same: my friend will not buy the book... or perhaps yes if he really likes it.

L.

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Lorenzo said:

I wonder why, if I can lend my "solid" book to a friend, I can't "lend" him the pdf.

In principle - it should be legal if you delete the PDF book from your hard drive while it's on loan. In practice - it'll depend on the license conditions you agreed to when purchasing the book.

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Which "PDF" are you talking about here? Are there really publishers selling books as PDFs without copy protection of any sort?

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Am I the only person here with a Kindle? The E-ink on my Kindle DX is fantastic. I hate reading physical books in bed because I constantly have to readjust when reading even and odd pages.

Snakes said:

I'm sorry, but I like enjoying the feel of sitting out on a porch with a good beer and a book in my hand. I also like marking my favorite passages in books so I can go back and enjoy them over and over at any given time.

You can do both of these with a Kindle or other E-reader.

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The screen on the Kindle does look nice, and if you are willing to pay the extra for the DX (assumning it is available in your part of the world), then the screen area is pretty much OK.

The big problem with Kindle at present is that Amazon's supported data formats are very restrictive. For text-only novels in English, it is fully adequate, but for anything with more sophisticated layouts or unusual features, it requires considerable compromises.

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Grazza said:

Which "PDF" are you talking about here? Are there really publishers selling books as PDFs without copy protection of any sort?


Actually, yeah. Once you get away from the mainstream and look at alternative/indie stuff, you'll find all sorts of books being sold without protection, or just weak token protection (no DRM shit), that basically acts as a reminder to not pirate the hell out of the book. The biggest site might be lulu.com, but there others. Oftentimes the book is available in various formats (PDF, softcover, hardcover, deluxe edition, etc.) Some are dirt cheap, or even free (but still copyrighted). Others have open license (like Creative Commons) but may or may not have a price tag, and sometimes the print version is just sold "at cost". Here's a great example:
http://www.basicfantasy.org/

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