When it comes to E-books, copyright laws can be very similar to regular copyright laws for any other written publications or works. Since E-books are very different from printed books and are still rather new and are constantly evolving as technology expands, the copyrights for them must be unique and must elaborate specifically to cover all grounds.
Rights of a Copyrighted E-book
Just as a typical printed work, E-book copyrights provide the sole rights of it to only the author or the creator of the E-book. The law strictly states that it does not provide any rights to any individuals who physically possess the E-book. So the purchasing or the downloading of an E-book does not include any copyright rights.
Similar to printed books or works, the “Right of First Sale” and “Fair Use” apply to E-books. The “Right of First Sale” doctrine states that any individual who purchases and legally obtains a copyrighted work may sell or give way the original copy of the purchased work. This all falls under the “Fair Use” terms which grant specific privileges to the purchaser of the material. What this means for E-books is that once an individual has finished using the E-book or no longer has use for it, he/she may put it up for sale or can simply just give it away. It is encouraged that if the E-book is to be sold online (Ebay,etc.) that the person putting it up for sale to contact the owner or author and notify them of what they plan to do, the author will approve and it lets the author know that it is a legal transaction and not a pirated E-book being sold. There are some strict guidelines that must be followed if discarding of an E-book were to occur.
- Remove any and all traces of the E-book from computers
- Destroy any electronic or hard copies of the E-book
- Remove any data associated with the purchase of the E-book (serials, upgrades)
If one is to discard of their E-book, it is imperative to make sure that no copies have been made. This includes virtual copies or printed copies of the E-book. If copies were created and kept after discarding of the work, this would pose as copyright infringement. Also, if an individual has intent to sell a copy of an E-book that is on a computer, this is also infringement. No copies can be kept after a sale or after giving it away.
Copying an E-book
The only acceptable times when a person is legally allowed to copy the book is if the user copies the E-book files to a computer’s hard drive. Any computer that is owned and directly controlled by the owner of the E-book may have the E-book copied onto it. Also if a person wishes to copy the E-book to hard copy that is acceptable. It is permitted to print out the E-book and have it on paper as long as those copies are not sold or illegally shared. The individual who purchased the E-book may lend it out to family members or friends as long as they do not produce copies, if copies are produced then the person who owns the E-book is held reliable and will be charged for infringement.
Obtaining a Copyright For an E-book
In the United States, registration of a work to obtain a copyright is not a law and not required. It is completely up to the author or creator of the work to register with the Copyright Office. A copyright is automatically granted to the original work once it is created so no registration is needed. However if one wishes to register their copyright work, this makes it official and provides proof that the person who registered it is the rightful owner of the work and its rights. If copyright infringement were to occur, the conflict could be settled easier if it is registered. This law applies to all copyrighted works including E-books. Since E-books are virtual and electronic, this means that they can easily be transferred or copied. So infringement is more likely to occur. If illegal copies are made and sold, the proof of registration of the copyright will resolve a lawsuit and benefit the owner of the rights.
DRM and Copyrights
In compliance with the E-book copyright law, E-book authors and creators now usually have Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions with their E-books. This is a preventative measure to try and prevent copyright infringement from occurring. When DRM restrictions and policies are incorporated with an E-book, they aim to prevent illegal copying, sharing, and selling of the E-book. The most popular and considered the most effective form of DRM is Adobe PDF. It is very secure and comes with multiple security options. It also allows for the user to have some rights with it and prevents any copyright infringement from occurring. There are ways for people to get around the DRM systems and disable them and their are hopes and efforts to make this not possible. Getting around a DRM system does not necessarily encourage piracy but still does violate the license that comes with an E-book or a electronic book.
Electronic piracy is one of the largest growing cyber crimes occurring today. Piracy involves the illegal obtaining and sharing of electronic media such as movies, music, software, and E-books. E-book piracy is a growing trend, especially with the increase of devices such as the iPad and the Kindle which gives a whole new field of opportunities to E-books. Sales of digital books are at a rapid increase and so is the demand for electronic books. Although not as popular as music piracy or software piracy, E-book piracy is becoming more abundant and becoming more of a problem. Piracy directly affects the copyright laws because it is a direct copyright infringement. The illegal copying and sharing of E-books takes profits away from the authors and owners of the copyrighted E-books. As of January of 2010, there was a study conducted in July 2009 until December 2009, and an estimated 9 million E-books were illegally uploaded, shared, or downloaded. This amount of downloaded E-books calculated an estimated $3 billion dollar loss to E-book publishing companies. Publishers are concerned when it comes to E-book piracy and are seeking solutions to this problem.