The Fine Line Between Legal And Lost

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MCtrlSys

New Member
I was just running through some things that I wanted to get back now that I am back into railfanning. One of those things is Train Shed Cyclopedia. I have a number of these in storage and they are wonderful to thumb through. But while I was thinking about them I looked some of them up on Ebay and found that a number of these small books were up for bid at more than $100 dollars. Now here is the big question in my mind. These books are out of print. Now, I think the biggest crime in the universe is to let information dissapear due to the fact that the publication is no longer in print. So in my mind the best thing anyone could do is digitize them. There are however powers at work out there that say that copying these things is illegal. I never said that these powers were intelligent. I agree with copyright (30 year span) but after that, ethically they should be copied. If they aren't then they are lost. I wanted to ask others what they knew about this or what their opinion is. My view is copy it no matter what the greed heads say. But that is simply my opinion. I want to know so I could find out what the truth of this is. I would love to copy these things to make sure that others had access to the info for generations to come but I always like to know what the reality is first.
 

MCtrlSys

New Member
Thanks for the info guys. I read through the copyright info and it seems that the corporate interests got to the copyright law in 78. What used to be 30 years is now 70. Way off from the sane version. I guess corporate interests win out over common sense once again.
 

Pat

Photo Critiques Welcome
There are a lot of them in the used book market. Today No. 3 has the highest asking price of $50 on E-bay but it's available on Amazon for$8. Abebooks.com for $10 and pages of them $20 or less. Alibris.com has a lot of them for $20 or less. Patten Books in Kirkwood Mo has a collection.
 

HDSDcouple

The Unwanted Line
well not sure if coperate interst wins. I for one wouldn't like it if something i put 10 or so years into only was covered for 30 years. I mean it is a living for someone. Lets look at it this two ways. You digitize these maybe takes you a month to do so at a cost of $1000 bucks. no big deal until i buy the first digital copy and sell them for $10 bucks and sell 10,000 copies. would you be mad?

Or an even easier copy right law violation. I take 12 of your pictures you have here and make a calender that just happens to be a huge seller and i make 500,000 off your pictures. would you be mad?

I hae to say it but the copy right laws are there not just for big business but the little guy to.

Books and and printed info have a tough time ahead. The digital age will be another way for old publishings to make a few more dollars. Digital books and magazines are here. I am waiting for publisher to digitize back issue of alot of things so i can get a copy and not have to store or move magazines. I already have 25 years of magazines I have had to move and it aint fun. lol
 

Tacoma Tom

New Member
You can copy anything you want despite if it is copyrighted or not. You can go to any library in America and every one of them has a copy machine. You can copy every book in the library (which is all copyrighted) and nobody is going to say a word.

There is a law called "Fair use act". The fair use act allows people to copy copyrighted material for a long list of reasons. I don't have the time to go through it in detail but basically as long as you are not making any money off of what you copyrighted and the original owner has no objections you are fine. That is the reason there are millions of videos on Youtube that have been uploaded by Joe smoe, and John doe that were taped or recorded from a television show or some other source. Despite tens of millions of stolen or pirated videos on Youtube only a half a dozen or so have ever been prosecuted and they were prosecuted because they were stealing thousands of videos and songs.

On the other hand if you do copy someone else's video or photos and they tell you that they don't want you displaying their videos and photos you are probably going to get into trouble despite the Fair use act especially if you are making money from advertising.

Many people do not know that any Government made videos are considered "Public domain". You can copy them all you want and you can even mass produce and sell them. That is why you have probably a hundred different people selling old movies on Atomic bomb explosions made from the Government.

Should you copy Train shed encyclopedia? If you are doing it for the sake of preserving history and the main purpose of your website is for general information on railroads then you should be fine. However if the original publisher or current rights holder runs a website and has similar information and photos then you could be hurting his profit margin and that could get you into trouble.

Many people sell old official Union pacific videos, and Southern pacific videos on Ebay. The railroad obviously will never mass produce those videos again and could care less who does what with them.
 

MCtrlSys

New Member
Thanks for that. I understand the fair use act, the borders have become a bit fuzzy as of late due to the efforts of corporations like Sony and WMG. Its hard to tell what the ins and outs of all of it are. As for the other comments, I have no problem with someone getting paid for their work, however the distribution companies are the ones getting most of the money for these things. They deserve less than nothing. They do more harm than good. As for the time involved, 30 years is the fair amount that was determined early on. It worked far better than what we have now. The problem is that the human brain builds on work that went before. If you extend a law that says you cannot copy something for profit for close to a century you start running into the "already been done" issue ad nauseum. Even if it is just close. You just cant copyright an idea for 70 years without things breaking down.
 
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Pat

Photo Critiques Welcome
The material Newton K Gregg used was published in the first half of the 20th century. Why not round up some Car Builder Cyclopedias old railroad drawings etc, edit and self publish your own books?
 

Tacoma Tom

New Member
The older the material is the less people seem to care about it. I consider myself a historian and have rounded up archives on all sorts of things. I have actually spent a lot of time researching the copyright laws, what you can publish, what is private and what is public, etc. One thing that is helpful to remember about older material is that the writer/photographer may already be dead.

People often want to use color slides for book projects bought off of Ebay. I have actually talked to lawyers about this issue and if you don't know who took the picture and there is no way to contact them how is it possible to get permission? The answer is it probably isn't. I think even if someone wanted to take you to court, you could show the judge that you made a effort to contact the original owners and were not successful. The original publisher may also be defunct, long gone, and it's staff dead. Furthermore since their are lots of original slides being sold on Ebay, courts have ruled that since you are buying the master you should be entitled to use it as you please.

I wouldn't be too paranoid about copyright laws. Many people who photographed the old steam engines are dead or so old they don't care about it. Many of the publishers are long gone with the CEO's long gone as well. I doubt many courts would even hear a case when the material is 15 years or older unless you were mass producing a entire book or something.

Check out the website ioffer.com and click Movies and television to see how lax the copyright laws are concerning old video. You probably have over 100,000 old movies being copied (as homemade DVD-R'S) and sold by everyone and their mother yet this website has been around for at least 5 years.
 

MCtrlSys

New Member
The material Newton K Gregg used was published in the first half of the 20th century. Why not round up some Car Builder Cyclopedias old railroad drawings etc, edit and self publish your own books?
Nah, I already have enough on my plate now. I was really just asking around to see and maybe to inspire some people to make sure that information doesn't get lost to the march of time. For me I already am in the middle of a project online. Working on a site. I figure I have worked in the IT industry for 10+ years and should use my web design skill to make a decent railfan site for my area. So in that respect I have been spending alot of time digging up history on the Sacramento Northern, Northern Electric, Tidewater Southern and so on. I need a few first articles for the site. Later maybe I might write something like what you are talking about.

As for everyone else, I really appreciate all of the info. I will have to post more questions on this board. I forgot how mellow and knowledgable railfans can be. I have been out of the loop for 7 years because I was running an RC Car group in the area. I quit because they tend to have a bit too much ego and aren't really the listening or cooperative type. I will really enjoy being back into railfanning. I will soon dig the huge box of Kodachrome and Ectachrome slides out of storage so I can digitize them and put em online. I have the California San Joaquin Valley railroad action from 1987 -1999 on those. Mostly Southern Pacific and Modesto & Empire Traction. Looks like I will be bantering back and forth with you all for some time to come.

It is really nice to be in a place where I don't have to worry about forum trolls or hyper competative types. :)
 




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