I have noticed that a lot of online ebook stores have the nerve to try and charge as much as $10 each for ebook versions of books that are out of copyright, and thus to be found legally free on many honest on-line ebooks sites, so if you simply go to a site such as one or other of the two Gutenbergs you can download them perfectly legally for nothing at all – which is how it should be.
Different countries, different copyright laws:
As the majority of online ebook sites are based in the USA just now, obviously American copyright laws pertain to them, which I believe have copyright for about 70 years after the death of the author, but there are plenty of sites on line that are registered in other countries, who have much more sensible copyright laws. In Australia for example it is 50 years, so basically anything written up to 1963 is now out of copyright in Australia and can legally be given away on sites such as Gutenberg Australia.
So it is well worth checking on the original date of publication before parting with good money for an ebook…. if it was written 50 or more years ago you can probably find it for free somewhere on the net, and the only laws you might possibly be breaking might be your own countries laws if you are unfortunate enough to live in the USA that is.
What is the point of long copyright periods?
I can sort of understand keeping copyright in place for some years after the death of an author, to ensure that his widow (or widower) continues to get an income from the writers works for the remainder of their lives, but after the death of any spouse, then what on earth is the logic of keeping the book in copyright – whose “rights” are being protected then I wonder?
Also, whilst I am absolutely against ebook piracy, in the case of dead authors I can see no way in which piracy is theft… Who is losing out is my question? Certainly the author isn’t losing out, he or she is dead after all…..
Anyway, before buying old or classic ebooks, do have a look around before being foolish enough to pander to the greed of some online stores and actually paying for them….
Share with us.
Any useful tips for other readers on this one? Do you know any really good online ebook stores that give away (legally) out of copyright ebooks? Do let us know about them please. And as a secondary topic, what are your views on extremely long copyright periods after the death of an author? Does it make sense or not?