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Author: Subject: more changes for sciencemadness
Polverone
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[*] posted on 9-4-2003 at 12:22
more changes for sciencemadness


As many of you know, the current sciencemadness library is paltry. As many of you also know, I have made available various materials on a separate website (http://bcis.pacificu.edu/~polverone/) that really could go into a Library.

I am reviewing the copyright status of various works that I have come across and have sometimes posted privately out of fear over copyright concerns. Copyright law is rather confusing. However, to make a long story short, works copyrighted before 1964 and not renewed after 28 years are now in the public domain. This is the situation for the United States, anyway, and it is presumably the law of the US that I must follow as I am a US citizen and my server is located within the US.

One rather troublesome thing is that while the US Copyright Office maintains an online database of works registered as copyrighted - and this would presumably include works that were renewed after the database's creation - it seems to have relatively few works within it.

One interesting but confusing thing is that works produced by the US Federal Government cannot be copyrighted, but works produced by independent contractors can have their copyrights assigned to the Federal Government. I have not yet determined by who exactly the "Federal Government" is for purposes of this discussion. Are publications of Federal research labs copyright-free?

The more relevant question: was the copyright of PATR 2700, aka The Encyclopedia of Explosives and Related Items, renewed in 1988 (it was published in 1960)? If not, I would be perfectly free to openly host a scanned copy of this massive reference... and the thought practically makes me drool.

Anyway, here's a preliminary list of documents that I plan to host in the Sciencemadness library:

James Sheridan Muspratt's Chemistry as Applied to the Arts and Manufactures (PDF or DjVu).

Ernest J. Parry's The Chemistry of Essential Oils and Artificial Perfumes.

Thomas Anderson Henry's The Plant Alkaloids.

Arthur I. Vogel's A Textbook of Practical Organic Chemistry (cleaned up and with OCR applied).

Tenney L. Davis's The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives.

Fundamental processes of dye chemistry, by Hans Eduard Fierz-David and Louis Blangey. Tr. from the 5th Austrian ed., by Paul W. Vittum.

Mario Sartori, The war gases, chemistry and analysis (English translation).

Bernard Charles Saunders, Some Aspects of the Chemistry and Toxic Action of Organic Compounds Containing Fluorine and Phosphorus.

The Encyclopedia of Explosives and Related Items (don't have author info handy) (assuming copyright was not renewed).

I won't have the luxury of storing everything in multiple formats like I do on the bcis server. I will have to go for compact (DjVu or JBIG2-PDF) documents in all cases.

Also, I realize that my public hosting of some files may peeve certain parties. Whoever scanned The War Gases might be annoyed that I am sharing it with the world. But I have been studying communication law this semester and I believe that since The War Gases is itself now in the public domain, so too is the electronic version, since the electronic version is a straightforward duplication of the paper one (it does not have enough of a creative element to be a new copyrighted work in its own right).

Are there any other books I should add to this list? I am always on the prowl for new books to scan, but at this point I would prefer being alerted to works already in electronic format that are derived from books copyrighted earlier than 1964.

I am thinking at this point that things like the Making of America books that a_bab ripped could also be publicly hosted, or those from bnf.fr. However, I do have a limited amount of space available and would prefer to host materials that aren't already widely distributed.

Plus, while I think I might prevail in court against the Making of America people with regard to copyrights on their old works, I certainly can't afford legal trouble and would have to cave in without a fight if someone seriously threatened me with legal action.

I hope that this action will help to increase the visibility and credibility of sciencemadness as a source of technical information.

A long-shot project, if anyone has a lot of time on their hands: I think it would be great if sciencemadness could host a database of chemical and physical properties like one finds in the CRC handbook or Lange's handbook. Facts aren't copyrightable, although their arrangement is, so if there were volunteers to transcribe data from multiple references we could build a very nice database indeed. If you already have reference books, OCR may be able to help you if you are working with multiple pages of similar entries.

And then... do you know what I could do? I could integrate some libraries I've found for computational chemistry and thermodynamics, so that one could simulate various reactions, selecting reactants through a Web interface to the database and also receiving results via the Web :o .

It's pie in the sky stuff, I know, but I want to make it happen eventually. I have bold dreams, oh yes I do...:D
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Cappy
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[*] posted on 9-4-2003 at 17:22


Stop, you're making me drool too! :P

I especially think the simulated reactions would be cool. It would be a very novel and unique feature.
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Organikum
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[*] posted on 10-4-2003 at 02:26


The big drawback is the included autodestroy feature. Autodestroy if successful.

I think the biggest legal problem is in the accessability for everbody. If restricted somehow and for educational, scientific and non profit uses it will be hard for the big ones to fuck you.
But anyway I fear you misinterpret the copyright laws. Not to forget the DRMA...

advocatus diaboli
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Polverone
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[*] posted on 10-4-2003 at 09:41


I am not misinterpreting copyright. Under US law, works originally copyrighted earlier than 1964 must be renewed by the copyright holders at the end of 28 years or the works fall into the public domain. My only uncertainty is over whether or not certain works have indeed had their copyrights renewed. In many cases I believe it is safe to say "no," given the fact that the works do not appear in the Copyright Office database and have not been sold for decades.

As far as the electronic-format documents that others have prepared, I admit this is a little murkier. The US Supreme Court has ruled that the mere act of photographing/videotaping sporting or news events is itself "creative" enough to make those pictures and videos copyrightable - so it might seem like plain scans of a book are also copyrightable. On the other hand, news and sporting events are not themselves copyrighted, while books are. And the Supreme Court has also ruled that parodies without much creativity are too close to the original works to avoid infringing copyright. By the same token, if a scan of a book is close enough to the original that it would be guilty of infringing the copyright while the copyright was still in effect, it must fall into the public domain when the original work falls into the public domain. Or so I believe.

The DMCA does not affect me because paper books are not protected with technological measures and few of the e-books I have seen have been encrypted or otherwise protected. Also, as a general rule, the copyrights of fictional works are more highly regarded and defended in the US than those of non-fiction works.

I would prefer to make the Library accessible to all both because I like to share information and because if it ever did get in hot water, a private file-sharing site would look sneakier and I would have a hard time arguing that it was a public service.
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Organikum
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[*] posted on 10-4-2003 at 19:46


I just thought to remember that copyright was more complicated, but I gladly stand corrected on this.

You can believe me that free information is one of my highest ideals. I have an idea how the physical/chemical properties database problem could be solved without too much work and circumventing legal problems. I´ll PM you on this later.

ORG
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