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Copyfraud: Poisoning the public domain

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Creating books from Project Gutenberg

" I can borrow a public domain book from any library and scan it, or I could download the text from Project Gutenberg. I reformat it as a PDF, mark it with a copyright date, register it as a new book with an ISBN, then submit it to Amazon.com for sale. I may not even need to print and bind any books, I can offer it through Amazon's Booksurge print-on-demand service, or as an ebook on Kindle. Once the book is listed for sale, I can submit it to Google Books for inclusion in its index. I could easily publish thousands of books; most would never sell, but with zero up-front cost, any sale is pure profit."

OK, this is something I have actually done several times - taken a text from Project Gutenberg or archive.org and formatted it to read on my Sony Reader (I have never shared or tried to sell any of them). I can categorically assure the author of this article that this was not a zero up-front cost exercise, it takes roughly the same amount of time to format into an aesthetically pleasing readable form as it does to actually read the book - about two to four hours.

I don't even attempt to correct most OCR spelling mistakes (Gutenberg and archive never check) unless they are glaringly obvious and I'm working on that bit of text anyway. The spelling mistakes are annoying but I can re-interpret as I read. To correct them and prepare it for sale would be a much bigger job than what I do and I don't begrudge any publisher the few dollars they may charge to do the job properly.

Oh, and just in case anybody is thinking of doing this - please, please, don't format it as PDF as the author of this article suggests. PDF just doesn't reflow onto ereader devices very well. Create an ePub - that will cover most requirements - but it will only take a few minutes longer to create an LRF for the Sony, a MOBI for the Kindle and a LIT for everyone else. And, if you must, you can then create a PDF. End Rant.

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