Sunday, January 09, 2011

Science, Fiction and the Public Domain (comma intended)

If one includes Vampires and The Occult as "science fiction", I count 5 instances this week where "Sellers" on EBay have mistakenly announced that multiple works of science fiction are "in the public domain" and that therefore they (the sellers) assert that they either own the copyright or have the legal right to flog these e-book collections on CDs.


Not so!

Another example

Please note the small print "NOTE TO EBAY".

These two examples of EBay listings are themselves works of fiction. Please note, it is quite possible that the Sellers honestly do not understand the words they are using. My rant is against ignorance and disinformation.

The so-called "freely distributable" eBooks are in fact snagged from well known file-sharing sites. They are not "in the public domain".

The fact that some ignorant/unscrupulous/malicious/greedy person has upped copyright-protected works to a file-sharing site, and is "sharing" them with the general public does NOT put the works into the public domain.

The works are only "freely distributable" because technology makes it possible for the works to be distributed easily by copyright infringers. That does not mean that it is legal to distribute them, copy them, "share" them, encourage others to "share" them, or to sell them.

I apologize for posting two weeks in a row about copyright infringement. Authors of all genres ought to be aware of what is going on, but most of all, of the damage being done owing to the apparently widespread ignorance or disregard for what "the public domain" means.

There is a natural perception that "If 1,000 EBayers are doing it, it must be legal", which is really difficult to combat, especially when the EBay feedback system touts alleged mega-copyright infringers (who might be illegally sharing multiple copies of 8,000 or more copyrighted works per auction) as 100% positive.

The problem may be even worse on other auction sites, depending upon one's focus. Mine is on what happens when people are told that e-books are in the public domain, when they are not.

1 comment:

  1. There are very few really good genre blogs around and I love yours <3 Got a blog award for you :)