DIY Book Scanners Turn Your Books Into Bytes

From the Article:

"A DIY book scanner also raises questions of piracy and copyright. The basic question being: Do you really own a book in all its forms when you buy a book?

At the same time, ironically, the DIY book scanner is helping new create new tools to make copyright information more accessible. Tulane University is building a scanner based on Reetz’s design that would let it digitize its collection of copyright documents. That is expected to help the university develop a web-based service called ‘Durationator’ that would allow anyone to search copyright information about any particular book, to see if it is currently in the public domain or not."

"So are Reetz and the builders of the DIY scanner pirates? That would depend on who you talk to, says Pamela Samuelson, a professor at University of California at Berkeley, who specializes in digital-copyright law. Trade publishers are almost certain to cry copyright infringement, she says, though it may not necessarily be the case.

Google was recently forced to pay $125 million to settle with angry book publishers and authors who claimed copyright infringement as a result of the search giant’s book-scanning project.

But not so individual users who already own the book, says Samuelson. If you scan a book that you have already purchased, it is “fine, and fair use,” she says. “Personal-use copying should be deemed to be fair, unless there is a demonstrable showing of harm to the market for the copyright at work,” says Samuelson.

For publishers, though, the growth of the DIY scanning community could hurt. Publishers today sell digital versions to customers who already own hardcover or paperback versions of the same book.

“You cannot look at this idea from the perspective of whether the publisher can make extra money,” says Samuelson. “Publishers would love it if you can’t resell books either, but that’s not going to happen.”

Instead, communities such as these are likely to force publishers to offer more value to customers, she says."

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Comment by I. J. Parker on December 13, 2009 at 7:53am
Okay, I see the textbook thing. And yes, Pepper has hit the nail on the head. Get an electronic version out there quickly.
(To the best of my knowledge, Google Books cannot scan anything other than the first two books of mine they scanned before they were stopped. We have closed that door on all others.)
Comment by John McFetridge on December 13, 2009 at 7:00am
It always seems crazy to me to try and limit technology, it's just the answer at all. This does seem like an interim step, especially for textbooks which will likely someday soon only be available in electronic versions (I actually think they will only be available as websites for which you'll have to pay an access fee and "owning" them won't be possible, but I'm a pessimist and I've seen how big business works).

I do think, too, that as Pepper says when electronic versions are easily and cheaply available you won't need to scan your own back-up copies.

People will still pirate and try and get for free what's offered for sale, though, it's not like shoplifting has died out.
Comment by Pepper Smith on December 13, 2009 at 6:41am
Seems like one more incentive for publishers to go ahead and get the digital copies out there as soon as possible. There's less incentive to spend the time scanning the book if you can download a copy for a reasonable price.
Comment by John Dishon on December 13, 2009 at 4:39am
To create a back-up copy, so you don't have to lug around a bunch of heavy textbooks...In my case, a book scanner would be nice because I'm moving to Taiwan next year and won't be able to take all my books with me, so it would be nice to have digital copies of them all so I could still have them with me, especially since I still have a large TBR pile.

Also, Google did get away with it, and it only cost them $125 million. Google Books is still online.
Comment by I. J. Parker on December 13, 2009 at 4:23am
On second thought: If you buy a book, what is your purpose in scanning it?
Comment by I. J. Parker on December 13, 2009 at 4:19am
Note that Google did not get away with scanning copyrighted materials.
Comment by John Dishon on December 13, 2009 at 4:16am
Actually, the right to do whatever you want with a book you own is the reason public libraries are able to operate. There's nothing intrinsically illegal about a book scanner, just like the courts have upheld that a VHS player is not illegal. As the article mentions, book scanners exist already and are quite expensive. There's nothing illegal about making one yourself.
Comment by I. J. Parker on December 13, 2009 at 1:05am
Copying is copying! And what's to stop people from reselling the book? Or, for that matter, copying the text from a library book? It's law suit time!

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