[tt] [FoRK] Book guillotining - spine removal for amateurs

Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Tue Oct 16 17:24:18 PDT 2007

Luis Villa wrote:
> (IANAL, etc., etc.)
> On 10/16/07, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> By the rights clarified in Universal
>> City Studios v. Sony ( summarized nicely at:
>> http://w2.eff.org/IP/P2P/MGM_v_Grokster/betamax_20th.php ), I feel that
>> I am entirely within my rights to "time shift" a book to bits.
> Sony (the Betamax case) didn't establish that it was legal to use a
> VCR; it established that it was legal to *sell* a VCR despite the fact
> that it very well might then be used for illegal purposes. To the
> extent Sony said anything about the legality of the uses of the VCR,
> that is dicta.
I'll defer to your legal knowledge here, however the EFF article that I 
linked to said this:
> The court decided that American consumers were not violating copyright 
> laws when they time-shifted television with their VCRs. It also 
> declared that Sony was not violating copyright laws by selling VCRs, 
> even though some people might use them to infringe copyrights. In 
> other words, you don't go after the crow bar makers just because there 
> are burglars out there.
I still think that the legality of time-shifting is considered settled 
law.  I've seen it mentioned in many cases.
> ...
>> Should I keep the spines, like old crusty skeletons, to prove that I
>> disposed of the physical source?  Photograph myself with the books?
>> Keep my archive of receipts and make the other party prove that the
>> receipt is not present?  Simply point out that people give me books?
>> Should I include a certificate in the scan that it is part of my library
>> and based on a book I own?
> The relevant part of the copyright act says that you can't distribute
> the work 'to the public.' Like the above, there is very little case
> law on what distributing 'to the public' is- usually it is pretty
> obvious; either you are or you aren't, so shades of gray like
> 'distributing only to friends and family' is almost completely
> undefined. There is some related case law (when talking about
> 'performing' works to the public), but that is also clear as mud.
> Your best bet is probably to rely on good faith of friends and family
> not to distribute widely and to stay small. If you become high-profile
> enough to go to court, you *might* win (EFF would love to represent
> you, probably) but it'll be expensive, time-consuming, etc. even if
> you do win. And if you lose... well, copyright law is pretty broken on
> the damages front. Not good.
> [I'd give advice on how to maximize your chances of winning, but (1) I
> don't think it would change much (2) that would definitely be Legal
> Advice in ways that the rest of this is not and (3) I'm not very
> confident about the details of this area of law yet, so I'm afraid it
> wouldn't be very good advice yet anyway. On the plus side, I think
> maybe you've given me an idea to write a note on.]
Cool.  And you've given me yet another instance that gives me standing 
to pursue taking the Unlicensed Practice of Law statutes to court as 
unconstitutional.  Your advice would be useful to me, no matter how 
unlicensed or uncertified, and my ability to make informed legal 
decisions for myself has again been limited by prior restraint on your 
speech, which is prior restraint on what I have access to.

Unfortunately, I'm moving, although I will maintain a home here to some 
extent.  Virginia courts seem small-time, or maybe it's just because I'm 
comfortable with them now.  I caught something about the family side of 
California being imposing and aggressive.  I'm sure there's so much 
traffic as to put stress on the system.  Any idea how rough dealing with 
Circuit Court will be in California for such a case?
>>> smaller parts so that I am not
>>> carrying the entire tomb around all the time:)
>> Tome I hope. ;-)
> Dead knowledge, so... :) (Seriously... in 15-20 years our kids will
> look at any textual knowledge that isn't in some way wiki-like as
> utterly bizarre and incomprehensible. This notion of 'editions' of
> books, that are updated only occasionally, will seem very broken.)
I absolutely agree.
> Luis

swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-371-9362C 703-995-0407Fax 20147 AIM: sdw

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