OA + POD + competition?

Here’s a question I thought of recently. I’ve asked a few smart people and none of them were sure of the answer, either, so:

There’s a bit of buzz about OA + POD (open access + print-on-demand) as a model for books, particularly for small scholarly publishers like university presses. Consider the following: a book published gratis OA + POD, with no copyright license, all rights reserved (ARR).

  • If I legally acquire a digital copy of the book (downloaded with rightsholders’ permission), under copyright, am I permitted to print a copy of the book for personal use?
  • If not: would fair use or another exception apply?
  • Is the fair use analysis affected by the offering of print-on-demand?
  • If I am permitted to print a copy for personal use: am I allowed to pay someone else to do the printing for me, e.g. by bringing the file to a commercial copyshop?
  • If so: Do ARR publishers know that?
  • What if the copyshop advertises that they will download and print the file for the customer?

Now consider a book published OA + POD, with a Creative Commons NonCommercial (NC) license.

  • Presumably I am now unambiguously permitted to print a copy of the book for personal use.
  • Am I allowed to pay someone else to do the printing for me, e.g. by bringing the file to a commercial copyshop?
  • If so: Do NC publishers know that?
  • What if the copyshop advertises that they will download and print the file for the customer?

Similar questions apply to related scenarios, e.g. paying an intermediary to download the file for you and deliver it on physical media, or to format and deliver it for an e-reader.

This entry was posted in Copyright, Creative Commons, Open access. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to OA + POD + competition?

  1. 1. Unclear, and there are probably arguments in all directions. If you lease the content under a licensing agreement, as copyright owners may well allow, the licensing agreement may forbid printing. First sale would seem not to apply, because that covers what you can do with the actual bits that form the ebook.

    2. It might. You’d have to do the usual four-factor test.

    3. I should think so, yes. If there’s a POD market already, your printing a copy is more likely to harm the market for the work, harming a fair-use case.

    4. Mmmmmaybe, but likely not; case law is not on your side here. See the latest in copyshop course-pack case law. See also photo reproduction shops that won’t touch anything that might be copyrighted.

    5. Who knows what publishers know?

    6. No copyshop with sense will advertise such a thing unless they’ve worked out a licensing deal with the publisher. They got bitten bad by course-pack cases. A copyshop without sense will likely be sued. Win or lose, who knows? but they’re liable to see the inside of a courtroom.

    1. Yes, I believe so.

    2. Unclear, but if I were a copyshop I wouldn’t want the risk.

    3. I doubt many have thought this scenario through.

    4. Again, the copyshop would have to be crazy to advertise this.

Leave a Reply