April 23, 2003 3:50 PM   Subscribe

BookShare is a napster-like service that relies on volunteers to share e-books with as many people as possible, and it's completely legal. The reason? Thanks to a special carve-out in copyright law which states "if such copies ... are reproduced or distributed in specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities."
posted by mathowie (15 comments total)
Importantly, they require signed certification of disability to download the texts.
posted by jamespake at 4:05 PM on April 23, 2003

oh. i was quite excited there at the thought i could download loads of books for free. that would be cool. although unethical, obviously.
posted by mokey at 4:08 PM on April 23, 2003

Well, I was curious if they relied and on trust and if people would respect such trust. I can't say I would but I'd like to think I would.
posted by jamespake at 4:25 PM on April 23, 2003

MP3s seem like a pretty blind-friendly format.
posted by Witty at 4:48 PM on April 23, 2003

There are a number of volunteer-operated radio reading services that broadcast copyrighted material - including books and newspapers - for the blind and print-impaired.

Because of copyright laws, they generally require a special radio to access the broadcasts. If you or someone you know could benefit from the service, you should check with your local public radio station for more information.
posted by stefanie at 4:54 PM on April 23, 2003

Erm, there's also a clause in the home-recording act that said you could legaly make copies of music for you friends....
posted by delmoi at 5:10 PM on April 23, 2003

Not three hours ago I paid 10 USD for Ian McEwan's Atonement as an ebook.

I will continue to pay for books. Unlike record companies that get 80% of the net, writers get substantially more. As much as I kazaa music, software, etc., it is my belief that this does harm an already small market.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:44 PM on April 23, 2003

pay for your books, people. i'm guessing most of you read decent authors (see The Jesse Helms above)--if so, they need every damn royalty cent. napsterizing literature is like trading in ivory.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 7:01 PM on April 23, 2003

I probably shouldn't have spun this site/service in just a jokey napster way. I pay for all my books and I think it's an ambitious and amazing service.
posted by mathowie at 7:41 PM on April 23, 2003

There's a place in my town you can get books for free.
posted by smackfu at 8:59 PM on April 23, 2003

Project Gutenberg
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:59 PM on April 23, 2003

smackfu, I heard about places like that. I think they are called 'libraries'. Not really free, but pretty cheap anyway.
posted by sebas at 12:17 AM on April 24, 2003

I searched for a few of my favorite authors (Pynchon, Wallace, and Borges), just to see if they had 'em available, out of a morbid sort of curiosity about what I would be able to read if I suddenly became blind. None of their books/short stories are available.

But, "The bible of the racist right," The Turner Diaries, IS available.
posted by LimePi at 1:21 AM on April 24, 2003

I volunteer for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, but we mainly record textbooks for people, as popular fiction tends to have commercial audio versions before we can get them out (and there's always a need for more textbooks to be recorded.)

Our Read-A-Thon is coming up next week, and if you've got some specialized academic knowledge (math, chemistry, foreign languages, law, medicine, etc.) you might consider volunteering; here in NYC, we get lots of grad school/professional school books to record. Recently I've been reading a Numerical Analysis text and one on Riemannian geometry.
posted by meep at 2:54 AM on April 24, 2003

I searched for a few of my favorite authors (Pynchon, Wallace, and Borges), just to see if they had 'em available,

It says quite clearly on the site mathowie links to, does it not, that the books included for public use are in the public domain? Which is why I linked to Gutenberg, you see.

Anything copyrighted is of little use to the non-disabled :

"Copyrighted books are only available for download in the specialized formats of digital Braille (BRF) and the digital talking book format (DAISY), and are only available to people with disabilities who have provided certification of disability."
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:39 PM on April 24, 2003

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