Public Domain or not?

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Lumberjack
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Public Domain or not?

Post by Lumberjack » Fri Jan 22, 2016 3:20 pm

Google is making available a tremendous numberof Public Domain books, and they are very interesting. At the same time, they are saying it is not permissable to use the "Public Domain" material for anything other than private study!
Surely, it is either in the Public Domain, or it is not! If they don't want anyone to use the material, they don't have to scan it and publish it!

Others like the University of California publish Public Domain material and say it may be used for any purpose at all!
Al

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:10 pm

The Google Books Project has entered into an agreement with a number of libraries and academic institutions to digitize their holdings of books. Some of the books are out of copyright in the USA (and therefore in the public domain there) while others are not.

There are two problems with this project. The first is that although some of the works are out of copyright in the USA, they not out of copyright elsewhere in the world, and therefore Google risk infringement action in those countries where such books are accessible via the internet.

Secondly, they have only been able to press ahead with the digitization process for books in copyright because they have successfully argued in the US courts that what they are doing is 'fair use' because it is transformative. This only holds true as long as the digitized versions are available just for academic or personal study, but not if the digitized version is used for commercial purposes which would damage the economic value of the physical books. This fair use defence only applies in the USA. Most other nations would not allow this sort of copying under their exceptions. So once again Google cannot allow their digitzed versions to be used for anything other than private study.

Most of the other mass digitzation projects such as the HathiTrust and Project Guttenberg claim to only scan works which are truly free of copyright. Therefore if there is a particular work you wish to access for commercial purposes and know it to be in the public domain, try finding it through one of the other digitized sources (of which there are dozens).

It is worth mentioning that the Authors Guild of America is still fighting Google Books over their digitzation project.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

Lumberjack
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Post by Lumberjack » Sat Jan 23, 2016 7:35 am

Thanks for reply and link, I have looked at a few of them and will look at more later on.
I am not looking to copy anything directly, but re-writing the general gist of things which is apparently OK for writings in excess of 100 years old! It goes on all the time, you have only to look in the Bibliography section of books of a historical nature. I suppose it is politely called "research" if it comes from numerous sources!

As for the re-drawing of plans that we mentioned earlier, this is very widespread with no repercussions. "Plan drawn by......." seems to suffice as long as it is completely redrawn from the original (I am again talking about plans in excess of 100 years old!). I have lots and lots of modern books that are crammed full of such plans that could only have ben produced from the originals. Unfortunately, the majority of these authors have died off now, and I am considering following in their footsteps (writing more that is - not dying off :shock: ).
The attached is really out of copyright, my version being the lower one.
Image
Al

Nick Cooper
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Post by Nick Cooper » Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:12 am

Lumberjack wrote:Thanks for reply and link, I have looked at a few of them and will look at more later on.
I am not looking to copy anything directly, but re-writing the general gist of things which is apparently OK for writings in excess of 100 years old! It goes on all the time, you have only to look in the Bibliography section of books of a historical nature. I suppose it is politely called "research" if it comes from numerous sources!
To channel Miranda Hart, it is "research." Once a book is published, others are free to draw on it as a source of information, even if it is still in copyright. A previous work's presence in a bibliography is an effective acknowledgement that they have been used as sources.

Non-fiction is a a collection fo facts and interpretation of or comment on them, and there only so many ways you can do that. Simply re-writing whole swathes of some else's work and adding virtually or actually nothing new would be plagiarism..

Lumberjack
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Post by Lumberjack » Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:44 pm

Thanks,
I feel that is the clearest and most sensible thing I have heard on the subject. Otherwise, just about everything would remain in copyright for ever! The plans I produce show the factual shapes (external) of the ships and there is no way that they could be used to build a ship. Apart from that, they take a considerable time to draw up in my own style that is far-removed from the originals, and for model building processes only! I also know that what I am doing has been extremly widespread for many years, and still goes on regularly in various model building magazines and publications!
Al

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