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AFAIK ebooks per se are legal everywhere - has some country ruled computers illegal?
However breaking copyright, denying authors (and publisher and editors) their fair compensation for their creations, is generally illegal everywhere.
There is some grey areas in personal use -"format shifting" etc that generally haven't been settled in courts. Tertiary market sales of digital media is also problematic territory. If you own one copy, and sell it once (or give it to a single friend) is that the same as doing it with a physical book? how about to two friends? more?
Generally I suspect single (or low number) exchanges, although technically breaking copyright, will be overlooked.
Scanning paper books to produce an electronic copy produces a poor quality image without the capabilities of a true ebook, and likely ot contain many errors, even when the scan is OCR'd.
"Breaking copyright yes, but not breaking the copyright law. That's the whole point."
I don't understand what you mean.
But personal use doesn't mean giving that copy to friends or families. And certainly doesn't mean giving lots of copies away.
The UK has such restrictions.
Though Section 29 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 does not limit the proportion of a work (or indeed the number of copies of the complete work for the purpose of non-commercial research or private study when the copies are made by the researcher or student themself, there are restrictions on the amount that can be copies by a third party.
You are legally permitted to produce a backup copy of a computer program for personal use. You aren't entitled to give that backup to another person for their use.
With the amendments to the above act and the addition regulations brought in with the "The Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003" you have a possible argument that format shifting from paper to electronic file would be permissable for personal use if it was purely a transient copy "and which has no independent economic significance." However you'd need to establish that in court and that would be long and expensive process.
That still doesn't give any right to distribute ebooks to friends.
Given that ripping music CDs, which you own, to MP3 is illegal in the UK (and many other countries) I can't foresee case law being established to support your idea that you are legally entitled to produce ebooks from physical copies even for personal use.
Incidentally the 2003 regs are an implementation of the EU Copyright Directive, so all EU countries will have very similar regulations.
Until you have a legal precedent in your favour, the legality of format shifting books is dubious.
The acts I referenced specifically forbid giving away copies or copying a complete work for another person. The is no legislation prohibiting you from selling, gifting or lending tangible products.
Your contract with the manufacturer/distributor may or may not allow you to transfer your license (whether by gift or sale) but I've yet to see one which allows a loan of software. It depends on the contract you agree to when you buy/install the product.
I don't know how or even if libraries are dealing with ebooks.
You always have a choice to disobey the law - being aware of the possible and likely consequences is useful. However passing off illegal acts as legitimate tends to get people into trouble.
Libraries have special deals with (some) publishers allowing time limited DRM controlled ebook lends. (only 1 copy may be loaned to 1 patron at a time) "Overdrive" is I think the name of the scheme. It's not yet as common in the UK as say the US, but it is coming. I use Manchester Library's recent facility for this, and it's very good.
bugmenot - note just because the library has a special scheme to lend ebooks to patrons, does not give you a right to do so with your own ebooks. I too am curious why you think it's ok to rip off the work of others?
That doesn't make it right though?
I've read about the Overdrive system elsewhere in Librarything, I wasn't aware it was making inroads in the UK. Due to various service cut backs and complete freezes on book buying I ceased being a regular library patron a few years ago. Sounds like I'll have to investigate local provision.
Over the years I've read various arguments about the pros and cons of ebook piracy. I still think the best piece is Eric Flint's introduction to the Baen Free Library. http://baen.org/library/
Much as I agree with Eric Flint that giving away free ebooks result in book sales (there are quite a few books I've bought as a result of that free library) that is substantially different from pirating books.The difference between a gift and theft.
Though I do wish publishers would take a more enlightened view of ebooks - there are quite a few books in my library that are on their 5th or sixth copies because I (and others) have worn them out, but the economics and fashions of the book trade mean they are no longer in print and second hand copies have become scarce. I'd love to be able to buy ebook copies that I can migrate between reading devices. I suspect I'm not the only one.
Some publishers and authors are delighted by the increase in e-books, but they don't realize that an increase in e-books will come with an increase in pirates of said e-books. They want to increase profits without consequences but that's just not the case, eh?
On the case of copyrights, just do what everyone else does: Pay a visit to the local Pirate Bay and if you don't find what you're looking for and decide to buy it, well, feel free to share. Sharing is caring!