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Is it wrong to scan books? - Idle Chit-Chat - The Lounge - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Mon Mar 31st, 2008 09:31 pm
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booklover
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Ed,

Seems like that's always the case between us, but I do enjoy the give and take. Let me know if Blago gives you a ride.:)

Best
Rob



 Posted: Mon Mar 31st, 2008 09:39 pm
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javal1
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Boy, sure is a lot of high-faluting, big intellectual-like words being spoke here. But I'm just a simple folk. so bear with me while a use some smaller words ;)

Have to admit I don't understand the dillema. Scanning books is stealing. I hate to be that simplistic, but sometimes simplicity is truth. So if you don't want this to be a legal argument, but rather a moral and ethical one, you have to ask yourself if you're morally and ethically OK with stealing. I really hate to disagree with Booklover, since he's one of the few that agrees with me on other issues;) 

Copyright doesn't state that you can steal the contents of this book as long as it's for your own use.

I really would like to add to the very well thought out and worded posts in this thread, but lots of words don't make it so. Just my opinion of course.



 Posted: Mon Mar 31st, 2008 10:15 pm
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booklover
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Joe,

Your argument is well-taken. I guess in my heart, I can live with what I'm doing, or I wouldn't be doing it. If there is a hereafter, that's one of the many things I probably will have to answer for. But I would never hold it against anyone who disagrees with me. Like I told Ed, it seems like on most issues we are on opposite sides, but I respect and admire his willingness to state his opinion and hold to it. I guess the reason I started this thread was because there are areas where I'm not willing to cross the line, and wondered where that area was for others. As a bookseller, I have access to new books that I can take home and read, in order to make me better able to hand-sell them. I have to return the book in a salable condition. I would never scan that book into my computer, because even though the bookstore has bought it, I haven't. Some would argue that I'm being a relativist, but the author has yet to see any money just because the store bought it. I can see the dividing line there and its a line I'm not willing to cross. Some might argue that makes me a hypocrite, and it's not a charge I take lightly. But I guess for me, the bottom line is that taking a book from a library, where the author and publisher have been paid, allows my conscience to rest easier. While some may argue the fact that I'm not the only one doing it doesn't make it right, I just came across a passage that I agree with. The English poet Abraham Cowley (1611-1667) once wrote "Fill all the glasses there, for why/Should every creature drink but I, Why, man of morals, tell me why?"

Thanks to everyone who has commented. Unless there's something I just feel a need to answer, this is my last post on this subject.

Best
Rob



 Posted: Mon Mar 31st, 2008 10:17 pm
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David White
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Booklover:

As the owner of the Intellectual Property you have every right to "give it away" or let anyone copy it all you want. That's the beauty of property rights and our system. the whole basis of the open source software concept, which despite being intended to "give it away" puts some obligations and potential problems on the users (but that's another story). But just because you decide to open up your front yard to let the neighborhood kids play football on your lawn doesn't give you or them the right to play on my yard even though it is inferior to your yard even by my standards. What you think is right for your property may not be right for me and I have every right to dictate the use, price and conditions for use. As a business entity I may not survive with my terms but it is my right to be that way.

Conceding that you make a point about moral versus legal, I would still say morally it is wrong because you are taking what is mine, that I have put into a convenient format for your use and you have rewarded me by misusing my property in direct violation of my explicit directions for its use. You have betrayed my trust. Money has nothing to do with that.



 Posted: Tue Apr 1st, 2008 07:19 am
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ashbel
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This has been an excellent discussion of the most critical questions of the digital age.  Who owns what?  Just because the technology exists to copy content, does one have the right to do so?  How can that content be used and how should it be paid for?  At the end of the day the existence of all originators of original content will be determined by how we answer these questions.

For example, when I said "pay the price" I did not mean pay the university to use the database.  The university is a licensee of the owner of the database and is prohibited from "selling" it to a third party.  "Pay the price" means paying the original owner of the content.

My prediction is that we will see dramatic increases in the technology to catch the digital thieves and the technology to protect content.    That will be coupled with an increase in civil and criminal legal remedies against those that  misuse  others  intellectual property.




 Posted: Tue Apr 1st, 2008 06:00 pm
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David White
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ashbel:

My prediction is that we will see dramatic increases in the technology to catch the digital thieves and the technology to protect content.

On the protection front, something will have to dramitically change because digital protection technology seems to tick off the honest users and the dishonest users have it cracked before it gets on the street. For that to happen, they will need to create seamless technology that is very hard to crack, I think we are still a long way from that.



 Posted: Tue Apr 1st, 2008 06:35 pm
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ashbel
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David

Perhaps we are.  But if one considers some of the anti-plagiarism software programs, I see some light at the end of the tunnel.  (and I don't think it is a freight train coming our direction)

Three things have to happen:

1. A clear understanding that copying copyrighted material is illegal.  The debate in this thread is an indication that people do not understand the law.

2. Enforcement actions on the most serious violators. 

3. Publicity of these enforcement actions.

We are never going to stop all illegal copying.  However, it can be dramatically reduced.  The truth is the average person is not comfortable breaking the law.  If there is the remotest chance that someone would get caught, most people will not take the risk.

It is really like automobiles and speed limits.  There are few automobiles made today that could not exceed 100 mph.  Yet, few people would ever go that fast.  We might feel comfortable at 7 or 8 mph over the speed limit, but would not run the risk of getting caught going 40 mph over the limit.



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 Posted: Tue Apr 1st, 2008 09:27 pm
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ashbel
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Bama

I think it is both.  Some people obey the laws because it is the right thing to do.  Others need to be encouraged through enforcement.

As far as driving fast, I would bet you would change your mind if you were given $250 tickets every 3 to 5 miles!



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 03:14 am
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booklover
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Okay, THIS is my last post on this topic.

Ashbel, copying copyrighted material is not illegal. If it was, libraries would not be allowed to have copy machines in the building. Under the fair use doctrine, photocopying is restricted to certain conditions, of which scholarly research is one (and that is all I use those books for). As scanner technology improves, that will have to be added to the fair use consideration.

This is taken from the American Library Association's guidelines for universities, researchers and classroom reserve photocopying. While obviously not the same as law, still it makes sense.

" The Copyright Act allows anyone to photocopy copyrighted works without securing permission from the copyright owner when the photocopying amounts to a "fair use" of the material. 17 U.S.C. SS107. The guidelines in this report discuss the boundaries for fair use of photocopied material used in research or the classroom or in a library reserve operation. Fair use cannot always be expressed in numbers -- either the number of pages copied or the number of copies distributed. Therefore, you should wight the various factors listed in the Act and judge whether the intended use of photocopied, copyrighted material is within the spirit of the fair use doctrine. Any serious questions concerning whether a particular photocopying constitutes fair use should be directed to University [College] counsel.
A. Research Uses At the very least, instructors may make a single copy of any of the following for scholarly research or use in teaching or preparing to teach a class:
    1. a chapter from a book;
    2. an article from a periodical or newspaper;

    3. a short story, short essay, or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;
    4. a chart, diagram, graph, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

These examples reflect the most conservative guidelines for fair use. They do not represent inviolate ceilings for the amount of copyrighted material which can be photocopied within the boundaries of fair use. When exceeding these minimum levels, however, you again should consider the four factors listed in Section 107 of the Copyright Act to make sure that any additional photocopying is justified. The following demonstrate situations where increased levels of photocopying would continue to remain within the ambit of fair use:
    1. the inability to obtain another copy of the work because it is not available from another library or source cannot be obtained within your time constraints;
    2. the intention to photocopy the material only once and not to distribute the material to others;

    3. the ability to keep the amount of material photocopied within a reasonable proportion to the entire work (the larger the work, the greater amount of material which may be photocopied).

Most single-copy photocopying for your personal use in research -- even when it involves a substantial portion of a work -- may well constitute fair use."

Second, as I've let this mull over in my mind, I think the spirit, if not the full letter, of the copyright law is geared more toward not allowing someone to profit from the work of another, not restrict in what form that person can have the work. I'm not taking a book, scanning it, printing it out and then re-selling it. I'm scanning a book, leaving it on my computer, and taking notes from it when it is convenient for me to do so. If you want to equate that with theft, than no amount of rationalization on my part will change your mind. However, my conscience remains clear.

One other thing...no one has responded to my scenario about borrowing an item from someone because you didn't want to buy it. In borrowing a truck that a buddy has paid for am I illegally depriving truck manufacturers of a sale? Do I have to say to my family, sorry but we have to spend $25,000 to buy a truck because if we don't, then we are injuring those companies who make the vehicles? I think most people would say that is preposterous. The principle with taking a library book (which I repeat for the 1,000,000th time has already been paid for) and scanning it is the exact same principle, albeit on a smaller scale.

I think what has got most people bothered is that I'm depriving the author of ANOTHER sale. I haven't appropriated his intellectual content anymore than if I borrowed the book from the stacks, read it, took notes, and then put it back on the shelf. The problem arises only if I present his or her work as my own. When I buy a book, all I have ownership of is the delivery system. I don't own the content. When I scan a book, all I own is the delivery system. Again, I don't own the content. Nor am I trying to.

I've edited out some statements that I wrote while upset. I think the ALA standards speak better for my position than anything else I could say.

A final note. During my research, I came across the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which states it is a violation to circumvent a technological measure that controls access to a work that is covered by copyright. As I was not aware of that law's existence, I am no longer using the database that my friend has access to. When I'm wrong, I will admit it.

Best
Rob

Last edited on Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 05:11 am by booklover



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 01:31 pm
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ashbel
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Rob

Excellent post.  Well researched and presented. You may indeed be in a "safe harbor" of the copyright law.

My problem is with the original question: "Is it wrong to scan books?"  My answer is still yes.

The protection of intellectual content from unauthorized use is a huge problem for everyone involved in publishing today whether they are a magazine, book publisher, database owner, music producer, artist or writer.  Their very existence is dependent on how we are able to protect their property.  If you have any question about this, just look at the financials of companies in any of the publishing fields.

While some of my posts may be in error with regard to your personal situation, I would still rather err on the side of those companies and individuals who need revenue from their work to survive.



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 02:58 pm
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aphill
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You can allow someone to borrow your copy of a book for the same reason you are allowed to re-sell your copy of a book.  The law makes a distinction between a piece of material property (i.e. a physical book) and intellectual property (the expression of ideas contained in the book -- the contents). 

Think of it this way.  I own a a painting of A.P. Hill by John Paul Strain.  Hangs in my office.  That actual, physical painting is mine to do as I wish with.  I can sell it, give it away, let my friend borrow it and hang it in his office for a time, or I can even throw it in the closet and never look at it.  On the other hand, I do NOT own the right to make a copy of the painting.  That right is reserved under copyright law to the artist.

By the same token, if you own a copy of say "Bold Dragoon" by Emory Thomas, you can freely dispose of your copy of the book as you wish.  You can keep it forever in your library, you can write in it, you can give it away, you can allow someone else to borrow it.  But what you actually own is a PHYSICAL BOOK.  Emory Thomas (or his publisher -- whomever properly owns the copyright -- they can be bought and sold, by the way) owns the CONTENTS of that book.  It is his exclusive right to allow copying of the CONTENTS of the book.

The contents of the book are of course to a certain extent intangible.  Intellectual Property is an interesting area for the very reason that you're dealing with something that is NOT really tangible as most other property is.

Just as an aside -- you can only copyright an expression of an idea, not an idea itself.  If I have an idea to write a history of A.P. Hill's Light Division, that is not protected under Copyright.  If I actually wrote something down in a fixed form, it would be protected as an expression of my idea.   You also cannot copyright facts, though you can copyright the way you arrange facts if it is in a unique enough way. This is why, by the way, the Phone Company can't copyright an alphabetical directory of phone numbers.  It was a 1991 decision by the Supreme Court usually referred to simply as "Feist" if you're interested for some unknown reason.

I am a licensed attorney, but the above is not intended to be used as legal advice.  Furthermore, what consitutes "Fair Use" under section 106 is a murky area of the law, and I am not passing any legal opinion as to whether you're in compliance or not with the law.  If this is of concern to you, you should speak to an attorney licensed in your state. 



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 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 04:13 pm
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David White
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Booklover:

Your analogy is faulty, it would make sense if you could clone your buddy's truck and use it just like he uses the original. Your analogy is more like the library or me loaning you the original copy of the book it/I bought so you may read it, which is completely legal as I detailed above. Even in that comparison, the bookseller is probably more "damaged" than the truck company because you are helping your buddy wear out the truck faster so it has to be replaced sooner, books don't tend to wear out as fast with proper use.



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