I have recently decided to undertake a little do-it-yourself project: a book scanner! The final straw was pulled the other day when I needed a chapter out of a book for my research in Luke-Acts. My little scanner (Canon MX700 all-in-one) could barely fit 2 pages per copy. It took me 20 mins or so to finish. Granted, I could have done this faster at the library using their copy machine (at 10 cents per), but I thought, Wouldn’t it be nice to have an electronic copy? This led me to Daniel Reetz’ DIY scanner instructions found here (see the dedicated website here). And so I’ve planned to undertake the project, with a few tweaks here and there.
The digital age has introduced new questions concerning copyright law! In my case, I must say emphatically that I do NOT plan to illegally copy and distribute copyrighted material! In any case, digitizing your own books or parts of other books should be okay, though even this interpretation of copyright law is not without dispute. Wired.com has an informative article concerning book scanning and copyright issues here. The relevant excerpt:
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.
(Samuelson’s faculty page has a plethora of resources if you’re interested in more info).
Also see the recent report from the Center for Social Media (American University):
This is because U.S. fair use, among international copyright exemptions, is uniquely flexible and adaptable. While most copyright exemptions create rules applied to specific media in specific situations, fair use establishes the right to use unlicensed copyrighted material when the social benefit of cultural creation is greater than the cost to the copyright holder. Although the law offers some general considerations, that general logic has no hard-and-fast rules; rather, reasoning is applied on a case-by-case basis, with clarity brought by interpretation within communities of creation and use. Shared interpretations become community norms, respected by judges. In turn, these interpretations in practice help shape future expectations. Thus, the U.S. doctrine of fair use creates a clear opportunity for communities to match the exemption to the practices of the field and in the process identify the specific needs of cultural actors for exemptions. These needs can in turn be shared with non-U.S. policymakers addressing copyright reform.
This report explores the link between creative scholarly decisions and copyright knowledge in communication scholarship.