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Books copyright protected in US but not Canada
#11  calvin-c 03-17-2010, 03:22 PM
Copyright law, in the US at least, starts with the basic premise that the act of making a copy, without the copyright holders permission, is illegal. There are specific exceptions written into the law, but if your situation doesn't fit into one of those exceptions, then the act of making the copy is illegal. (IANAL but I've talked to some about this. This isn't legal advice though, just my interpretation of what they told me.)

As with geographic restrictions, US law considers the site of the 'sale' of a downloaded product to be the location of the person downloading it-so the US downloader of the Canadian PW book would be in violation of US law. (Unless they downloaded it while in Canada, and then bringing it back into the US would be a Customs matter, I think.)

On the practical side, it's handled like the war against drugs-both distributing & using are illegal, but they prefer to charge, or sue, the distributors when they can find them. That doesn't prevent them from charging or suing the users because failure to sue (or at least threaten a lawsuit) when an infringer is found can cause loss of copyright. (Just as failure to charge a drug user, when caught, can cause law enforcement to be themselves sued for corruption. Not all charges are prosecuted, nor are all threats of lawsuits carried out-that can be a practical consideration, but the 'gesture' must at least be made.)
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#12  Elfwreck 03-17-2010, 03:36 PM
Quote calvin-c
(Unless they downloaded it while in Canada, and then bringing it back into the US would be a Customs matter, I think.)
Would be no different from buying the book or picking it up at a yard sale and then bringing it back to the US; if you acquire the copy in a country where it's in the public domain, you can then carry it anywhere. You're not required to pay royalties to other jurisdictions when you move.

And it's possible that downloading doesn't get prosecuted because copyright laws mention numbers of copies--making less than 10 copies may not be illegal, and so a single download isn't prosecutable. (Criminal copyright infringement in the US requires 10+ copies, so a single download isn't a crime. I'm less certain about how the civil laws work.)
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#13  DawnFalcon 03-18-2010, 12:24 PM
Quote Elfwreck
*Distributing* unauthorized copies is forbidden; *acquiring* them is not. AFAIK, you break no laws in downloading *anything*, even if it's entirely under copyright everywhere in the world.
However, further copying, including the incidental copying on a PC required to read the file is an offence.

In some countries, the Rule of the Shorter Term would apply, but the USA does not recognise this.
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#14  asjogren 03-18-2010, 02:30 PM
So I searched for "Lady Chaterley's Lover" - its is NOT in my public library. And I was somewhat curious what all the uproar is or was.

It was not in Gutenberg or Gutenberg Canada - I suspect because the copyright is still in force there.

I found it in Australia. And not on the dark nets. So I guess copyright is shorter there.

Now complicate the picture. First I am a US citizen. Second, it is winter - so I am living in Mexico. I downloaded the eBook in Mexico from Australia.

Whose laws apply?
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#15  DawnFalcon 03-18-2010, 03:13 PM
You're in Mexico. Mexico's.
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#16  asjogren 03-18-2010, 03:44 PM
Good. What country where English is significant language, has the shortest copyright?
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#17  Nakor 03-18-2010, 03:59 PM
Looks like Life+50 (Canada, among others) is the shortest you can get in an English-as-a-first-language country. (The Republic of Seychelles is Life+25 and lists English as a national language.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_duration
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#18  asjogren 03-18-2010, 04:21 PM
I think we need to start reducing these long copyright durations.

The Fortune 500 searches the world for the most lax regulations and the cheapest labor. Perhaps Project Gutenberg should have a Seychelles office.

Or, force copyright owners who have published previously to keep their works available for sale else the work reverts to public domain early. Patent law required defending the patent. Copyright should have some responsibilities too.
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#19  Ralph Sir Edward 03-18-2010, 04:40 PM
Maybe Alex should relocate the main server to The Seychelles....

(Let's see, that would be any author croaked before 1985....)
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#20  calvin-c 03-18-2010, 07:11 PM
Quote asjogren
I think we need to start reducing these long copyright durations.

The Fortune 500 searches the world for the most lax regulations and the cheapest labor. Perhaps Project Gutenberg should have a Seychelles office.

Or, force copyright owners who have published previously to keep their works available for sale else the work reverts to public domain early. Patent law required defending the patent. Copyright should have some responsibilities too.
I think you're confusing 'defending the patent' with 'producing the product'.

Copyright law (in the US, at least) already requires defending the copyright. If you ignore the infringement for too long after you become aware of it then you'll lose the right the copyright, i.e. you'll lose the right to sue the infringing party. (Um, let me reword that-anybody can sue, for anything, at any time-but you'll lose the suit unless you have the right to sue.)

AFAIK 'too long' isn't defined so it depends on the lawyer, the judge, and the circumstances. (For instance, the period in which you have the right to sue only starts when you become aware of the infringement-the penalties, of course, start accruing at the same time as the infringement occurs whether you're aware of it or not.)

As for the length, I only see two possibilities-a fixed length or a variable length. A fixed length can result in the copyright expiring while the author is still alive, depriving him of 'ownership' of his work. But making it variable (usually 'life') can result in the author having no 'work' to pass on to his heirs.

Consider the situation of John Kennedy Toole, who wrote 'A Confederacy of Dunces'. Admittedly his heir was his mother, but maybe that's why he wrote it-so he could support her. (I don't think that's the reason, but the situation wouldn't be any different if it was. Unless you want to really distort the idea of copyrights?)

Anyway, he committed suicide before his book was published. Had the copyright been for his lifetime only his heirs quite possibly would have realized no income whatsoever from it. (I suppose some people would contribute, out of fairness, even though it was in the public domain-but I doubt if any of those people would be the ones publishing the book.)

So, limiting the copyright to lifetime is, IMO, unfair-but a fixed length copyright also seems unfair, so it seems to me that the current system (life + a fixed period) is the best compromise. That being the case, what's a fair period? (IMO 25 years is about right. 75 is definitely too long.)
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