Thursday, August 23, 2012

Digitise Your Books For Chump Change

Sometimes we all miss the launch of something and its only when someone discovers it do some of the ramifications come home and the service become ‘news’. We were alerted to a piece in Publishers Weekly ‘1DollarScan Takes Service to Cloud, Authors Guild Worried’
So who and what is 1DollarScan?
The company is based in San Jose and operates under a Japanese company Bookscan. The object of its service is to offer consumers the ability to digitise their books for a 'cent a page' making a 200 page book digital for just 2 dollars, or less than the cost of the postage to 1DollarScan. The book is destroyed in the process, which first cuts the spine, then using high-speed Canon scanners, with optical-character recognition, scans and OCRs the content turning it into a PDF file, which can be read on literally a host of devices.
So what’s the difference with scanning your own books using standard off the shelf equipment and software and creating digital copies using1DollarScan? What’s the difference between copying a CD to create a MP3 file or taping a TV programme to create a digital copy? The reality is that the day is fast approaching when everyone will be able to do it themselves effectively at home and this service is just offering the economies of scale and scope. If the consumer only uses the files for their own use it is ‘fair use.’
The service may be taken up by many people wanting to clear their shelves, or it may fail just as other smart ideas, which no one really wanted. However, the challenge is how we would regulate such a service? 1DollarScan claim that they will ensure consumer self validate their usage and that they will also provide an opt in/out service for the owner of the copyright. From the outside and without the detail it is hard to say how this will work, but given that they will know nothing about the copyright against the titles they are scanning, it would appear half baked and some would suggest 'aiding and abetting' potential infringement.
Do 1DollarScan retain an archive of the files and if so, are these fair use or an infringement?
If 100 requests for the same title are scanned, they will distributed the 100 PDF files to 100 people with little or no control over their future use. They will be effectively 'open files' which would be relatively easy to covert to other formats and trade. The files will once again fall under DMCA Safe habour protection for any trading services that  unwittingly got involved and the owner of the copyright will have to search, and issue take down notices.
When Google scanned books the process was restricted to one body. With this service there could be literally hundreds of the same files in circulation and onus is on the owner to ensure that they are not being traded and infringing copyright.
The challenge is that 1DollarScan will not be the first nor will they be the last service offer and the digitisation cost is going only one way. Without a rights registry we remain a rights industry that some would say is walking backwards into a digital world.
Related :
Publishers Weekly ‘1DollarScan Takes Service to Cloud, Authors Guild Worried’

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