The Resale of Books and Music: Legal?

How many SDopers have bought used books, used music, or used movies? And yet, will those owning the copyright see a penny from these sales? While they are so distrubed by the Napsters of the world, what do they say about the re-sale?

  • Jinx

Copyright only covers making copies (it is, after all, the right to make a copy).

If you own a physical copy of a book, CD, etc., you can do anything you want with it except make copies (you don’t have that right). Used book and CD stores are perfectly legal – no copies are made, so copyright doesn’t apply.

File sharing involves making copies (there is one copy on the server machine and others on any machine that download them). Thus, it does fall under copyright law.

For years, the publishing industry has tried, off and on, to block public libraries from lending books.

I know.

It sounds insane, doesn’t it?

If it occured, literacy would plummet like a dropped rock, and every major puiblisher of non-technical/non-smut books would go bankrupt in 10 years.

But, every few decades, it is attempted by some dork with more dough than brains, who buys up a publishing house & thinks he can run it like a dry goods store.

The courts shoot it down every time.

So far.

I’ve been in publishing for over twenty years and have never heard of any publisher making the slightest effort to keep libraries from lending books. Give me a specific example: publisher and approximate date.

My feeling is that this is just an urban legend made up to try to justify file sharing. It’s stupid on the face of it – publishers make a lot of money on library sales, and no publisher is going to piss off that big a market (especially since that unless all publishers are insisting on it – and I know that has never happened – the library would merely buy their books from other publishers). Further, without a change in the law, a publisher has no way to enforce payment. Finally, it’d never get to court because the publisher’s lawyers would tell them they didn’t have a leg to stand on.

The only issue with library lending is that there is a movement to pay authors royalties on books being leant out. It’s already being done in a couple of European countries, but it’s less likely in America because of the way libraries are (under)funded over here.

There was some effort years ago by the music industry to stop the reselling of used CDs, I believe Garth Brooks was the Metallica of that age and was the celebrity spokesperson.

I think that simply fizzled out before the Napster age anyway.

Yes, very good point! Why isn’t Napster a lending library? Perhaps by downloading music, you wer copying the file. But, what if we took the concept of Napster, but the PC brains of the Napster website only permitted the CUTTING of files, not copying? Now, you could download music until someone else wanted to borrow your file and CUTS (not COPY) the file off your hard drive? - Jinx

While it is true that selling a used original does not constitute copying - nor is the profit from one sale in the same ballpark as the profit from multiple copies. Still, you are making money off someone else’s work, and it diminshes the market for new versions. Thus, someone could argue this is infringing on the rights owned by the author/artist or production label. But, policing this might become a logistical nightmare.

It’d be equivalent to Bradbury’s firemen burning books house by house. Instead, there’d be Media Police going house to house, You’d need some seal proving you were the rightful owner (or a license agreement) just to won a book, CD, or video! - Jinx

What is the difference between “cutting” and “copying”? If you have a song on your computer, and I download it, there is now two copies where there were once only one. How is this not copying?

Not according to the law:

United States Code, TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > Sec. 109

btw, here’s an old article about the Garth Brooks’ used CD opposition.

It’s pretty funny in retrospect.

Excuse me–I never said anything about file sharing, and I want to point out that the tone of these replies verges on the abusive.

Looking for references.

Infringing on what right? There’s no “still” about it. Under copyright law, a copyright holder does not have the right to prevent people from selling, giving away, or lending their legal copies of a work. Federal copyright law doesn’t give you a generalised right to “make money off your work” and then try to argue how someone’s behaviour might violate that. The Copyright Act of 1976 gives you the ability to enforce a very specific set of rights. For example, take a look at 17 U.S.C. §106:

Nothing in here interferes with an individual’s right under the first sale doctrine to sell, lend, or give away his or her legal copy of a protected work.

The technology does make the difference. When you’re dealing with a book, you have just one copy. When you’re dealing with a computer file, in order to share it, you’re making illegal copies.

I believe Jinx was proposing a system whereby the file is actually transferred (not copied), so that, after the transaction, the person downloading it would have it and the person supplying it wouldn’t.

Assuming that the file was legally obtained in the first place, I don’t see how this would represent a legal problem at all; I don’t think it would catch on though; if I have a bunch of music files on my hard drive that I’ve actually paid for, what would be the incentive for me to allow other people to remove them for themselves?

That’s all for now, gotta run, I’m at work.

I don’t know about records, but computer software is typically not sold at all, but licensed. The basic idea is that you are not the owner of the particular diskette or CD, but are only renting it and the agreement typically does not give you the right to sublet it.

With books the understanding is that you physically own your copy and can do what you like with that copy. That doesn’t include copying, since that is making a second copy of it. Could publishers change this sale of books to a license? Well, IANAL, so I can speculate as much as I like. I think they could, but the public might react badly. As for me, I like to own books that I like. Just a couple days ago, I bought a paperback copy of a book that I had read from the library several months ago.

RealityChuck may have been in publishing for 20 years, but I bet not academic publishing. The latest thing is that many (most?) journals are now published electronically (along with paper, but that costs extra and libraries subject to both cash and space restraints are increasingly not getting them) and the license forbids the libraries to make the journal available to anyone outside the institution. This is so far limited to institutional libraries, but who knows what the future will bring.

This means, in particular, that the research paid for by YOUR taxes is off-limits to you. Only a law making such licenses contrary to public policy can stop this practice. For myself, I will do no editing or refereeing for such journals.

Bosda that link says nothing that supports your original point. There isn’t a single word about anyone trying to block libraries from lending out books.

It’s all about the libraries right to lend out digital works – which means making copies. That’s entirely different from an actual book (or journal). At the moment, copyright law makes it illegal to make copies in order to distribute books electronically and publishers and libraries will have to work out a system that’ll work for both sides (I prefer the system used in Europe, where libraries keep track of what books are being leant and money is paid to authors on that basis).

There are other ways to do it, though. For instance, libraries can lend electronic fiction at Libwise; authors are paid, and libraries can lend out 250 electronic texts a month for $30 – the cost of one book these days.

Hari Seldon – you’re arguing a completely different point. In addition, people outside the institution are perfectly free to read (and print out) any electronic text that institution has in electronic form; you just have to physically go to the library to get it (I know that’s how it works here – there are many information sources that are only available electronically, but nothing prevents anyone from walking in and looking at them even if they have no connection to the college).

It’s hard to see that as a major hardship; before the Internet, that was the way it worked for everyone.

A copy is still made; you’re just simulatenously deleting the original. It’d be like photocopying a book and then destroying the original; that is technically a violation.

And that assumes that the copy on your hard drive was legal. If you took it off a CD, then it’s an illegal copy. So the song you are “cutting” is already a copyright violation.

Now, in theory, if you had the right to put that song on your hard drive, and if you deleted your copy after you made the copy, you might be able to argue the analogy. However, the letter of the law still defeats you: you made a copy.

Although IANAL, I doubt any court would view it as copying. By your argument, defragmenting your disk or reorganizing your folders would be technically illegal.

IANAL either but I agree: if I’m not mistaken it is permissible to take a CD you have legally purchased and store the tracks as mp3s or any other format on your hard drive. Making the tracks available to others is a different matter the way the law is written.

I have been to a couple of university libraries without having to be within the institution, and could read technical publications. In fact, I was able to make photocopies of one book that I subsequently bought. I’m all for the open distribution of scientific information, but why specifically have the publishers not cracked down on library photocopying (or have they)?

In this thread, it was argued that were libraries to set up CD-copying machines, the recording industry would be all over their case. I don’t see how photocopiers are any different.

On another (slightly related) tangent, in the UK we have the Public Lending Right system, by means of which authors receive a (small) fee from the library system (here’s an article about it from one professional writer). So, in addition to promoting literacy generally (which is a good thing for authors), the system benefits them financially (a little bit … but more than unauthorized copying does.)

Correct - format-shifting was upheld in RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia. That doesn’t mean you can legally distribute the MP3s, though, even if you only make them available for “cutting” rather than copying.