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Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 10 Feb 2010, 12:06
by Misty
I was thinking of experimenting with processing a book with Scan Tailor for B&W, OCRable pages, and thought I might quickly try a book from my personal collection in my spare time since I don't have any appropriate books for that at work. If it turns out good, I thought I would post the PDF for people to download here. But I realized - the book I'm reading right now is newly out of copyright in Canada as of last month (Jim Kjelgaard died in 1959) and some other countries, but not in the US. So, Dan and Rob, do you prefer that we stick to US copyright terms when posting PD sample material?

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 10 Feb 2010, 17:25
by rob
From what I understand of my work with Distributed Proofreading, you can post a book as long the edition you use is the one out of copyright. This means that a publisher can't get away with infinite-duration copyright simply by publishing the same book every year. They have to buy the US Congress for that to happen.

I've seen a case where there are both US and UK editions of a book, and the UK version can be posted, but not the US version. I also have a case of my own, where I have two US editions, one in, and one out of copyright, and I can post the out-of-copyright edition.

HOWEVER: I can't find a definitive source. All the sources I've read (i.e. Wikipedia) seem to indicate that the US does NOT apply the "rule of the shorter term" to foreign works, and considers foreign works copyrighted under US copyright terms even if the work has gone out of copyright in the foreign country.

So sadly, I'm afraid the answer is going to have to be a big, fat, NO. :(

Although, now that I think about it, I don't believe the forum will allow large files...

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 10 Feb 2010, 17:49
by rob
BTW, if you get me the title and author of the work, I can probably find out if it was ever registered under US copyright while the Canadian copyright was in place. If not, then the work is strictly a Canadian work under Canadian copyright, and it becomes public-domain in the US. If I'm interpreting my copyright law correctly.

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 10 Feb 2010, 17:51
by rob
Heck. You know, I have to take that back. Apparently everyone has their own opinion about this situation, and none of them are lawyers. So I'll have to go back to the default position of NO. :(

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 10 Feb 2010, 18:56
by DDavid
One of my local libraries that is very sensitive to this issue considers
10 pages to be within standards for "fair use" meaning that amount can be copied
"IF" it is properly cited. That is pre-internet policy and may not apply now.
I tend to think that this is a bit less liberal now but one page properly cited should not
be a problem hopefully.
As has been stated before these issues are widely debated and are shakey ground..

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 11 Feb 2010, 00:17
by IcantRead
So could Misty post the file on a site that is in Canada, and then put a link to it on this site? Just out of curiosity.

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 11 Feb 2010, 04:01
by StevePoling
Some months back Amazon deleted all copies of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and "1984" from Kindles. These books are copyrighted in the US, but they are public domain in Australia. So, what the guys at Makezine did was to describe how you can vacation Down Under and go about enjoying the books that way. So, if you've got some book that's still covered by copyright here in the States, you should do all your uploading and downloading during your sojourns on those foreign shores where your volumes are public domain. And upload it to a server whose operator is beyond the reach of any US Federal Judge.

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 11 Feb 2010, 10:11
by Misty
Rob: That makes sense. I figured that was going to be the case, but I figured I'd check.

It's definitely within copyright in the US - I wasn't trying to tell if it was or not. It's an American author who died in the mid 20th century, and an American printing, so it won't be PD for awhile yet. My understanding is that, in Canada, it doesn't matter that it's still copyrighted in the US; by the Canadian rule author's life + 50 years, the fact that Jim Kjelgaard died in 1959 makes it PD here as of January 1 2010. It doesn't hurt that it's an early printing from 1954, but I don't think that matters too much either. (These things can be complicated sometimes! Like with Yousuf Karsh, a Canadian photographer; everything he took before 1948 is PD in Canada, but still copyrighted in the States even though they're Canadian photos. Wikipedia's been having a hard time sorting through all the photos people had been uploading thinking they would be PD in the States too.)

Steve and IcantRead: I could definitely host it in Canada. Linking to it on an American server might be iffy though - not for me, but for the server operators. Probably best if I don't do that.

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 20 Feb 2010, 23:40
by rob
So I remembered reading something about this at Distributed Proofreaders, which led me to Project Gutenberg's Rule 6, which states under what circumstances the usual US public domain dates don't apply. Also see Distributed Proofreaders' Rule 6 HOWTO which contains much detailed information.
Rule 6 is currently under testing and revision. This section describes GATT exceptions to Rule 6. A future version of Rule 6 will describe the steps for demonstrating non-renewal to determine public domain.

Works published before 1964 needed to have their copyrights renewed in their 28th year, or they'd enter into the public domain. Some books originally published outside of the US by non-Americans are exempt from this requirement, under GATT. Works from before 1964 were automatically renewed if all of these apply:

* At least one author was a citizen or resident of a foreign country (outside the US) that's a party to the applicable copyright agreements. (Almost all countries are parties to these agreements.)
* The work was still under copyright in at least one author's "home country" at the time the GATT copyright agreement went into effect for that country (January 1, 1996 for most countries).
* The work was first published abroad, and not published in the United States until at least 30 days after its first publication abroad.

If you can prove that one of the above does not apply, and if you can prove that copyright was not renewed, then the work is in the public domain. For US authors and publications, non-renewal is the hard part to demonstrate.

To prove an item was not renewed, you need to do an extensive search of renewals in Library of Congress records (or you could get a letter from the author or publisher attesting that there was no renewal).
In the case of your book, conditions 1 and 2 (foreign national and under copyright on Jan 1, 1996) apply, but you will have to determine if condition 3 applies. If it applies, then the work is not PD in the US. Otherwise, if condition 3 does not apply, make sure you post your research along with the book so that if you do get stung, you have plausible evidence showing that you were not intending to be a party to copyright infringement, which should get you a very light fine, if any.

Unfortunately, it appears that Rule 6 only applies if at least one of the authors was a US national. As your book was written solely by a non-US national, Rule 6 does not apply at all. :/

Re: Copyright in posting PDF samples

Posted: 21 Feb 2010, 00:37
by StevePoling
This business of proving whether a copyright has been renewed or not is troublesome. And this may be a point where we should press the government for redress. The renewal-of-copyright is a transaction between two parties, the copyright-holder and the government. I should be able to ask the Feds whether a copyright has been renewed and get a definitive answer. One should not have to track down the harder-to-find party to the transaction.