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I am an avid reader, and I truly enjoy reading using my old Nook First Edition (3G+WiFi). I love the ability to change fonts and sizes, carry tons of books, overall readability, and much, much more. I've also enjoyed buying books from B&N, as well as downloading old, free classic books (that are in the public domain) from the Google Books project or from B&N as well, for that matter.
I'm also a big Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror reader, and I still love to go back to the "classics" of sci-fi and fantasy - things like Lord of the Rings, Dune, Dragonriders of Pern, Xanth, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe... you get the idea.
While a great many of these books have remained in print, and have subsequently been released as ebooks, there are also quite a few of the less popular or well known (at least currently) books that have (sadly) gone out-of-print - and of course have not been converted to ebooks either.
So, here's my dilemma/question: When it comes to a book that is completely out-of-print, and the author is dead, is it morally acceptable to download a fan-converted ebook from a torrent site? I'm sure that, technically/legally this is not OK, I wondered what you, my peers (and peeps), thought.
IF I had done this - hypothetically speaking of course - I think I would have a pang of guilt; however it wouldn't be that strong, and I wouldn't redistribute it of course. If I love the author and want to read it again, and it isn't available anywhere, I just feel like - morally - it may be OK.
Do you think the author would object? If I were dead and wouldn't get any benefits from it anyway I'd tell you to go ahead. Even if the book was not out of print, the author is dead so he wouldn't get a single penny either way.
Without personally taking a position on copyright infringement either way, even once an author has died, it's often the publisher or the author's estate or living family members that still have a copyright claim. Just because the author has died doesn't mean there's no longer a copyright claim on the work.
True but I think he was asking if it's morally ok, not legally. If the book is out of print there is no way for the family or the publisher to receive any pay anyway.
I agree when it comes to the moral issue. You're right. That is what he was asking. But I'm not sure they can be divorced so easily.
Yes, the book is out of print. But there IS still a claim to copyright. That claim is one that says "This is my intellectual property or intellectual property I own the rights to." So it seems to be the case that regardless of the legal penalties of violating that copyright claim, there's a moral issue. For instance, if there were no penalties whatsoever for violating copyright claims, more people would surely do it, but I think we can agree that we wouldn't therefore say that it was no longer a moral issue.
One quick thing - the book is out of print; any books bought (tree-based, not digital) would be second-hand, and no one but the seller would receive any cash.
In a way, it is almost like someone is giving someone the out-of-print book for free - since it isn't being sold.
That's a pretty good way of thinking. And as was already said, the people who should get the money, if they wanted it, wouldn't get it anyway. So it's really up to you whether you want a random seller to receive the money, or take it from someone who gives it to you for free.
If you're trying to rationalize violating the copyright then I'm not saying there aren't ways to do that. But let's admit that it is a rationalization.
Is it not the case that:
1) the copyright holder retains their claim to the property in question regardless of whether the book is still in print, even if the current rights holder is not the author of the work (as in the case of the author's death)?
2) copyright law allows for the selling of used physical books without payment being made to the copyright holder but DOES NOT extend this right to digital copies of books?
Then everything else is a rationalization for why it's okay to violate the copyright holder's claim regardless. Who knows, maybe the copyright holder specifically does not want the book to be in print anymore. I can certainly imagine situations in which that is the case. An author expresses to their family that she does not want her book to continue to be in print after her death (maybe she's concluded it's not a good work and doesn't want it out there, maybe her philosophical or religious beliefs have changed) and the fact that the book is out of print is as a consequence of this. To continue to circulate the book under these circumstances is not only to violate intellectual property rules and the morality grounding them but also to flatly oppose the express wishes of the author.
At any rate, your argument is not an argument for why it's okay to infringe copyrights in this case but rather an argument for buying the physical book used from somewhere without infringing intellectual property rights.