Daniel Reetz, the founder of the DIY Book Scanner community, has recently started making videos of prototyping and shop tips. If you are tinkering with a book scanner (or any other project) in your home shop, these tips will come in handy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn0gq8 ... g_8K1nfInQ

Can I pay someone to scan my books?

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Misty
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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by Misty » 31 Aug 2010, 09:49

That was part of the argument, on both sides, but it wasn't the only part of the court's decision. A major consideration appears to have been the nature of the use (commercial, rather than non-commercial). Another, probably more relevant, case is UMG Recordings, Inc. v. MP3.com, Inc.. There, MP3.com had a service called "Beam-It" where they allowed users to "register" themselves as owning CDs by inserting the discs into their computers, and to receive MP3 versions of those albums. The court noted that MP3.com failed one of the major fair use claims by being a for-profit business. Again they could have been an exception if their usage was transformative1, but the court found that "although defendant recites that My.MP3.com provides a transformative "space shift" by which subscribers can enjoy the sound recordings contained on their CDs without lugging around the physical discs themselves, this is simply another way of saying that the unauthorized copies are being retransmitted in another medium -- an insufficient basis for any legitimate claim of transformation."

So, if MP3 versions of albums are not considered transformative, I doubt e-books would be either. The book scans are essentially representations of the original books, so that wouldn't be any more transformative. The court noted that "Here, defendant adds no new "new aesthetics, new insights and understandings" to the original music recordings it copies, see Castle Rock, 150 F.3d at 142 (internal quotation marks omitted), but simply repackages those recordings to facilitate their transmission through another medium. While such services [*8] may be innovative, they are not transformative."

Again, I'm not a lawyer, but it sounds to me like this is sidestepped when the copying is non-profit. A for-profit book scanning service, however, could run into similar trouble.

1. "Consideration of the first factor, however, also involves inquiring into whether the new use essentially repeats the old or whether, instead, it "transforms" it by infusing it with new meaning, new understanding, or the like."
The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

StevePoling
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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by StevePoling » 31 Aug 2010, 18:16

I went to lunch with a buddy of mine who's a lawyer, and informally asked what he thought of a scanning books for hire scheme, and he thought the activity was unlawful, too. I suppose one might keep a low profile, and scan books on a non-profit (just charge enough to cover your costs) basis. But anybody trying to start a business on this basis could easily find himself sued into oblivion.

univurshul
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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by univurshul » 04 Sep 2010, 01:21

StevePoling wrote: Does the owner of a copyrighted work have the right to do media shifting? Can you lawfully hire someone to digitize vinyl LP or cassette tape?
Yes, I say in this situation it is legal. But the purchaser of the art doesn't "own" the copyrights, any licenses, ideas or intellectual rights; they own data, the materials, i.e, vinyl, pages, tape, plastic discs, paper. As a whole, they own what is considered a private collection. The owner of the collection has the right to make a limited number of backups or copies themselves or with the help of others, such as software or hardware which enables this to occur.

That said, the collection had no real-world implications that could possibly catch the eye of any single copywriter, because it's a private collection that is not for sale or distribution. This is fair use. And by the same token, when you rip all your CDs into iTunes, you are basically doing the same thing; designed for an individual to have legal rights to backup or transform their data.

If it were highly illegal to duplicate anything, in any form, iTunes would have never existed.
iTunes usage and user agreement, which lends to fair use and copyright laws: http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html

The engine which transformed records into tapes was Apple's Logic, but it could be any 1 of the thousands of software and hardware options that enable duplication. Heaven-forbid there was ever a suit filed for alleged copyright infringement, my only argument is that the service provided to the custodian of the art was to digitally preserve a deteriorating private collection.

We might be splitting hairs on the small business types, doing side-work by assisting individuals in transforming their collection similar to iTunes CD ripping. If your service is widely advertised, you might need to have a conversation with an actual copyright lawyer. And on the topic of payment for services rendered: I did the math, and it's in the best interest of the client to simply buy official digital editions of their books, rather than pay someone to scan--even if they can scan at 1,100 pages an hour, the opportunity cost is too great when an average ebook costs $20. So this service is for media that's not in digital form anyway. Publishers would love to get everything in DRM-form, but getting everyone on-board is a trick in of itself.

There are privacy laws as well. What you do in your home with your collection is your business. Feel free to burn your books or destroy your property. Or maybe take care of your collection. This would mean using a book scanner if you were smart about it...As long as it stays within the confines of the home, rules are easily understood. The whole point of buying artwork and media is to have your own personal access to it. Inhibiting this is access un-American.

There is a clear distinction between copying what an artist did vs. backing up your collections of works by an artist.

One of them is legal in the U.S.

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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by Moonboy242 » 06 Sep 2010, 12:33

This is in no way directed at anyone. I'd like to play Devil's Advocate here... Let's step away from the actual legalities and the question of whether or not paying for transcribing books for someone else violates fair use and copyright restrictions.

A quick Google of DIY Bookscanning shows an increasing number of hits on the web. This website and its membership has been ballooning quickly (I've been lurking here as a guest for almost a year). Also add in that the fact that we have several very easy and effective designs that can be built at home for very little money and allow someone to back up their a printed media collection quickly and efficiently.

People are taking notice of our interest and that will inevitably draw the attention of publishers, lawyers, and ebook vendors eager to (rightfully) protect their investments, livelihoods, and little corner of the ebook market. Let's not give them the chance to say "Those DIY people are teaching the world how to steal" or "Bookscanners should be outlawed as they inherently encourage copyright infringement". We should keep our focus on building bookscanners and the legal electronic archiving of works for personal use and non-distribution.

If we police ourselves early on, and make it very clear that we do not play in the "gray areas" then maybe, just maybe, The Man won't be able to stick his nose in our business.

Now, can someone help me get my foot out of this broken soapbox... there's some nice wood here I can use for a new scanner arm. :D
iPad: Over it. Android FTW.

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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by strider1551 » 07 Sep 2010, 12:22

I agree. Discussion of hardware/software should not be an issue since both have significant non-infringing uses. But the content of what we scan and whether we can scan something on behalf of others is a definite grey area unless the work is public domain. I would rather take the better-safe-than-sorry path and have some clear rules, at least for this particular subforum.

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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by univurshul » 07 Sep 2010, 23:50

Moonboy242 wrote: People are taking notice of our interest and that will inevitably draw the attention of publishers, lawyers, and ebook vendors eager to (rightfully) protect their investments, livelihoods, and little corner of the ebook market. Let's not give them the chance to say "Those DIY people are teaching the world how to steal" or "Bookscanners should be outlawed as they inherently encourage copyright infringement". We should keep our focus on building bookscanners and the legal electronic archiving of works for personal use and non-distribution.
This site is international, we have members outside of the U.S. and it's governing laws. Although copyright treaties exist, we tend to forget that the world doesn't necessarily play by U.S. rules.

And, like I said before: the opportunity-cost to scan books as a service is greater than buying the publisher-released digital versions. Might as well build or buy a scanner and DIY if your library conversion is large/rare in size or just buy the digital versions. If you have more time than money, or vice-versa, it's simple logic.
Last edited by Anonymous on 08 Sep 2010, 00:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by daniel_reetz » 08 Sep 2010, 00:19

It's important that the DIY Book Scanner project as a whole is not portrayed as "Use this to steal a textbook! Infringe copyright with this device!". As with any powerful technology, it can be used for legal or illegal things. But we shouldn't be overtly inducing or encouraging copyright infringement where we can easily talk about other uses.

I'm not that worried about it, though I have been in the past. This is a forum about building scanners, and writing and using scanning software. It's not about violating copyright law.

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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by Misty » 08 Sep 2010, 09:26

univurshul wrote:Yes, I say in this situation it is legal. But the purchaser of the art doesn't "own" the copyrights, any licenses, ideas or intellectual rights; they own data, the materials, i.e, vinyl, pages, tape, plastic discs, paper. As a whole, they own what is considered a private collection. The owner of the collection has the right to make a limited number of backups or copies themselves or with the help of others, such as software or hardware which enables this to occur.
There's an important distinction between what seems logically legal to you and what's actually allowed. While it would seem like it would follow that the personal right to format shift would extend to hiring someone to do that for you, the examples I posted earlier seem to suggest that it's not the case. iTunes provides the software to let users format shift their own music; Apple doesn't do it for you. I'm not sure where a non-profit scanning service would stand though. That might be okay. For-profit seems to be a more difficult legal area.
univurshul wrote:This site is international, we have members outside of the U.S. and it's governing laws. Although copyright treaties exist, we tend to forget that the world doesn't necessarily play by U.S. rules.
That's definitely true. I'm in Canada for example, and rules here are quite different. (We have shorter copyright terms, but no right to format shift in-copyright materials without explicit permission.) However, it's important to remember that the site itself is operated and hosted out of the US, so if any legal challenges come to the site itself then it's US laws that apply.

I agree, Dan. We have many examples of valid non-infringing uses by this time.
The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by univurshul » 08 Sep 2010, 09:40

Misty wrote: There's an important distinction between what seems logically legal to you and what's actually allowed. While it would seem like it would follow that the personal right to format shift would extend to hiring someone to do that for you, the examples I posted earlier seem to suggest that it's not the case. iTunes provides the software to let users format shift their own music; Apple doesn't do it for you. I'm not sure where a non-profit scanning service would stand though. That might be okay. For-profit seems to be a more difficult legal area.
Fair enough, someone gives me a stack of books and says, "they're yours". They are now my property. I scan them for myself. I then give them back to whomever gave them to me along with their backed-up versions. The original owner pays me to lift a platen for 7 hours of time because, hey, time is money. Not about a service necessarily. Kind of like how escorts make money (not that I would know in detail).

We could conjure up more scenarios than actual hardware builds; it's truly getting exhausting. And because none of us here can guarantee legal advice, I would never deter anyone looking to conduct legitimate business based on 'best-guesses of reason'. The waters are murky, but enterprise is always possible given you explore all your options, all the legal holes enabling you to utilize such a great technology.

We need all the tax payers we can get, I wish the best of success to any endeavors taken to digitize people's libraries.
Last edited by Anonymous on 08 Sep 2010, 10:35, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Can I pay someone to scan my books?

Post by daniel_reetz » 08 Sep 2010, 10:02

I think we can all agree that copyright law is broken and needs to be reformed.

It's plainly evident in the fact that these discussions come up time after time. When I was speaking at WFUD in DC (and hangin' with Rob and GoDigital, seriously good people) there was a panel discussion among lawyers and copyright activists that went something like this:

Copyright activist: "Copyright is broken and needs to be eliminated."
Lawyer: "So, copyright law is incomprehensible and requires lawyers to understand it. What if, instead of abolishing copyright, we made it possible for normals to understand it?"
Copyright activist: "Not good enough. Copyright is broken and needs to be eliminated."

Both sides showed their true colors. One revealed a staunch no-copyright hardheadedness that doesn't lend itself to cooperation and change, and the other revealed the obfuscatory, convoluted and expensive nature of copyright law. To the extent that the anti-copyright groups move the Overton Window for the rest of us, that's great. And to the extent that it would even be possible to rework our present copyright model into something comprehensible (doubtful at best), great. My personal stance is that copyright is profoundly broken and deeply harmful, and that fair use rights are all that stand between us and the tyranny of rights holders. Given that, there is real, important work to be done in enabling and documenting stories like those of our members. Story by story, we slowly drive a wedge to cleave off ever more rights for the end user. Our members shine through the cracks in the walls of copyright, showing weakness after fracture after flaw.

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