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 Posted: Mon Mar 31st, 2008 09:16 pm
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booklover
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First off, I asked this question knowing full well that several people may (and obviously do) disagree with me. So if I seemed a bit sensitive to either Ed or David, allow ME to apologize.

Second, whether or not I understand copyright law and intellectual property issues (and not being a lawyer, I only have a laymans understanding of both, so certainly no offense taken, David) I am coming to this from what happens in the real world. David, as a budding author I certainly want to make as much money off my work as is possible, but does that mean I will sue someone who scans my book into his or her computer after checking it out from the library? No, because I was already compensated by the library's purchase of my book. What happens to it after that point is no longer in my immediate control, and while the law may have definite points as to what is legal in this situation, how many people have been arrested or fined for copying a book? I see the Copyright Act notice at every copy machine (or scanner) in every library I visit, but I've yet to see the police haul away someone or see someone fined for doing so.

If by the point this happens I have other books in print, it may prompt the person to buy one, or it may prompt him to go back to the library, check out another one, and scan it in as well. I can't stop someone from doing it, and worrying about it seems a waste of good stress. Even though I'm not magnanimous enough to say I don't care about making money, my main motivation in writing is to share what I know about Everton Conger with the rest of the world. Making a boatload of money from it would be wonderful, but it's not my main motivation. I accepted a long time ago that I'm never going to be rich from what I write.

I also think we're mixing issues here. My whole point was really based on a moral or ethical question as opposed to a legal one. While the two should be intertwined, they often are not. It's not legal for me to go 65 in a 55 mph zone, but is it immoral? No. Even if I cause a wreck that injures someone, that could happen if I was going 45 in that same 55 mph zone, and if punishment were to be meted out, the law wouldn't recognize whether I was speeding (unless it was excessive, which is another legal hair) or going slow. It may not be legal for me (in the strictest sense) to check a book out of the library and scan it into my computer, but is it immoral? By my way of thinking, no, because the author and the publisher have already been compensated to the fullest extent the law allows. As they are the only ones who would be legally (and morally) injured by my action, and since the compensation has already been given, there is no injury, at least not in a legal sense, and again, in the moral sense (and David, I'm sure even a first-year law student could find hundreds of holes in my theory and shred it to bits, from his point of view, but that will not change my opinion because as I've viewed it through about a decade of covering courts and the legal system, all the law is is what some judge decides it is on a given day--a bit flippant I know, but nonetheless at least partially true).

As far as my friend is concerned, again I'm not too worried about her. I doubt she's the only one who is doing this, and when she is no longer a student, I will no longer have access to the database. David, whether my taxes cover 1 percent or 100 percent of the operating costs of a university seems like picking nits. My point is I'm paying part of the bill. Therefore I have a right to the same access that others who make up a part of the school's budget has access to. If that's not possible, or fair, then allow me to pay a fee for the access, which as I've stated before I'm clearly willing to do, but if not, then I'm going to continue to do whatever it is I have to do. So far, I've not lost any sleep yet.

By the way, David, I loved your last line...so lawyerly!;)

Best
Rob

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