Book People Archive

Re: World eBook Fair: 12 million downloads. Anyone notice?

Jon Noring wrote:

> Both Catherine and I are perplexed by the lack of public discussion
> about the WeBF on the various ebook-related forums such as this one.
> What are your thoughts?

I see that several people have already responded to your question. 
Looking over the World eBook Fair website, my biggest problem with it 
is some rather blatant copyright infringement.

If you click on the "Browse Collections" link on the main page:

you'll see the long list of collections. Two of them quickly caught my 

Project Gutenberg of Australia

eBooks @[redacted] Adelaide Collection

If you click on the first link, you'll see a "Page under construction" 
screen with a warning about "Australian copyright law."

If you click on the second link, however, you'll get a long 
alphabetical list of authors, and you'll also see a paragraph above 
the list showing that this is Steve Thomas' collection from the 
University of Adelaide Library. The problem is that a number of the 
ebooks are famous works that are still very much under copyright in 
the United States, and they're being distributed from servers in the 
U.S. Here are some examples:

Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir (1859-1930)

"The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes"

Dreiser, Theodore (1871-1945)

"An American Tragedy"

Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1896-1940)

"The Great Gatsby"

"Tender is the Night"

Lawrence, T. E. (1888-1935)

"Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

Lewis, Sinclair (1885-1951)


"Elmer Gantry"


"It Can't Happen Here"

"The Prodigal Parents"

"World So Wide"

Orwell, George (1903-1950)

"Down and Out in Paris and London"

"Burmese Days"

"Animal Farm"

"Nineteen eighty-four"

(In case anyone's worried about clicking on the ebook links above, 
they only lead to the tables of contents for each ebook. Steve made 
each chapter a separate HTML file.)

Now, let me be clear. I'm not saying that Steve Thomas did anything 
illegal. He had every right to put these ebooks on the University of 
Adelaide's server, because it's located in *Australia* where all of 
these works are in the public domain. But the World eBook Library 
people have copied the files and are distributing them from servers in 
the U.S. That isn't legal without permission of the U.S. copyright 
holders. And does anyone here believe for a moment that the copyright 
owners of "The Great Gatsby" and "Nineteen eighty-four" gave 
permission for that?

Now, some might say that instead of posting this on the BP List, I 
should have just contacted Michael Hart or John Guagliardo of the 
World eBook Library privately. Well, I might have done just that if 
Michael hadn't posted these two "press releases" on this list:

Press Release: 2 Months To 1/3 Million eBooks,2

9 Weeks to 1/3 million ebooks,2

In them, he wrote:

"We hope you enjoy some of your favorite books in the
editions presented here and that you will pass those
on to others we hope will enjoy them as much as you."

If people in the U.S. downloaded the ebooks listed above and passed 
them on as Michael encouraged, they could get into legal trouble. So I 
want to make sure the word gets out not to distribute them in the U.S.

Jose Menendez

P.S. The list above isn't complete. I only listed some examples 
written by some of the more famous authors. Also, some of those ebooks 
are included in other World eBook Fair collections as well. For 
example, the Coradella Collegiate Bookshelf collection

also includes

"The Great Gatsby"