A very interesting war is being waged on books. This time it isn’t about publishers and the agency model or the stigma behind self-publishing. This war is actually about the right and wrong of consuming a book that a reader already owns.
Format shifting, as it’s being called by some, is taking one copyrighted item that has already been purchased and reformatting it to use for personal consumption. In this case, book owners can shift their print material to a digital copy for use on their e-reader devices, tablets, or computers.
A step-by-step how-to by Jennifer Baek and Jake Brown-Steiner, two law students from the Institute of Information Law and Policy, teaches readers how to build their own book scanners that can digitize text at a rate of around 150 pages per minute. While they give very clear instructions and even point at their own pitfalls and deficiencies with the instructions, the real interest is in the legal ramifications.
While Baek and Brown-Steiner apparently tackled the scanner project to see how well it could be done, the real purpose behind their project was to explore the law behind copying one’s own books. A number of companies currently offer digitization services that operate well within the law; companies can digitize their back data for storage, and readers can order ebook copies of out-of-print and rare editions. As the authors point out in their articles, book owners with extensive collections might even opt to store backup copies of their books in the event of loss.
What they do point out, however, is the correlation between book scanning and the burning of CDs that once concerned the music industry. In their eyes, publishers might believe they are well within their rights to block book scanning in order to further the sales of ebooks, something that Baek and Brown-Steiner argue is not the publishers’ call.
To view the authors’ step-by-step and photo array of how to build a scanner, click HERE.