My recent blog articles about my paperless challenge, specifically scanning my textbooks to read and markup on my Tablet PC, prompted a question about the legality of doing so. University Lecturer, Pascal Venier asked,
Is it legal to scan a textbook?Pascal poses a particularly relevant question. I am not an attorney, but given the specific subject and my interest in the law, I feel obligated to look into this further. Furthermore, I promised to look into it and share my discoveries on this blog.
Creating such PDF+text versions of the book would make be a very useful tool. However would scanning "Law for Business" to produce an electronic version be lawful or are there copyright law issues?
As I began to research this topic, I found considerable information and opinions, but few answers. I've already created a large mind map with the information and references I've collected on this topic. [My business law professor encouraged me to change my final project to deal with this topic, so I have increased motivation (and a grade) riding on what I learn along the way.]
The answer to this question could greatly affect how people use emerging technologies such as the Tablet PC, PDAs or other ePaper Devices. Below, I've mapped out my response (or defense) to this question. I hope you'll read along, comment on my thoughts, and join in the discussion. This is a topic that will affect all of us.
My initial thoughts:
In my preliminary research, I found lots of gray area surrounding the topic of "Fair Use" that would probably apply to my example above. It seems to me that scanning or using digital scans of the textbook, which I have paid for, so that I can read it on my Tablet PC, does not harm the publisher's ability to sell his textbook to other students that wish to carry their books in the traditional method. I am not sharing the scanned PDF copies with people who do not have a legal right to use the media. (I have, however, given some of my marked up chapters to fellow students who missed class, but each of them have purchased the same textbook as I have, so I consider this for their personal use.)
The bottom line is that I have taken material I own in one form and have converted it into another form, still for personal use.
From a digital perspective, the issue of scanning a book into digital form for personal use is no different than taking a cassette or CD from my collection and digitally copying it to my MP3 player so that I can listen to it in my car. In fact, it is very different, not because of the technology but because of the energy put into the copyright issues by their owners. (Think Sony)
As a student, I may be OK scanning my textbook, according to the rule of "Fair Use" but Fair Use does not clearly address the matter for other books I already own.
In short, I believe my scanning of the my Law for Business textbook for my personal use probably falls within "Fair Use" because:
1) I have purchased the textbook; I have paid the copyright holder for the information in the book.
2) I still hold the book that I purchased. I'm not scanning and then giving away or selling either the original book or the scanned copy.
3) I am retaining the digital copy of the scanned text book for my personal use for research and education. (Seems like fair use to me.)
4) I am not sharing the scanned copy of the book with others, for fee or for free, who have not purchased the same textbook. (There's no intent to deprive or harm copyright holder.
5) I am not seeking to profit (other than personal knowledge enrichment) from scanning this textbook into digital form or by marking it up with my personal notes, nor am I seeking to deprive the publisher of their right to profit from their copyrighted work [Updated 12/28/05]
If I'm right, and I might not be, does that make it legal to digitize any book that you own and read it on your Tablet PC or PDA?
At least not as I understand the terms of "Fair Use" clause of the copyright law. There may be other clauses that apply for other purposes. I've found several of these in Nimmer on Copyright and other sources. It's not light reading. I'll try report on these once I make some sense of what I'm reading.
Meanwhile, I welcome, and even solicit, your comments and discussion.
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