Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, February 23, 2008

When compliance with copyright law undermines the purpose of copyright law

In his February 24 ethics column for the New York Times, Randy Cohen argues that it's illegal but "not always unethical" to copy and share the full text of a book which is out of print but still under copyright.  In fact, this kind of sharing promotes the purpose of copyright law (in the US, "to promote the progress of science and useful arts"), while letting the book's ideas "slip into darkness" would "undermine its purpose".

Cohen was responding to a reader's question about a particular book on aviation by Richard Coffey.  When Cohen contacted Coffey, Coffey said, "I'm pleased [readers] still find it useful. They're welcome to post it and make copies."