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It's legal to download The Great Gatsby in most of the world (go-to-hellman.blogspot.com)
82 points by gluejar 347 days ago | comments


shmageggy 347 days ago | link

These laws seem so arcane in a modern, globalized world. I'm assuming that one's jurisdiction is determined by citizenship? Or is it geographical location? If I'm a US citizen visiting Canada, can I legally download it there? What if I've lived there for years, or my whole life? What if I'm a hold a dual citizenship? What if I'm Canadian and visiting the US? If I legally download it in Canada, can I bring it across the border? What if I use a backup service that has servers in the US? What if it's a Canadian company that is managing them? What if the servers are in Canada but it's a US corporation that manages them? What if I'm a dual citizen who is physically straddling the border? What if I copy the file onto a flash drive that's taped to a boomerang and hurl it across the border before it comes back?

You know you have shitty laws when you can apply a reductio ad absurdum.

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ma2rten 347 days ago | link

In my limited understanding jurisdiction is generally determined based on where the act takes place. So if a US citizen kills another US citizen in New Zealand, New Zealand has jurisdiction.

In this case we are talking about the act of copying a document. So if you download a book in Canada from a Canadian server Canadian copyright applies. Imo, that is regardless of where that book was written or if you later take that copy over the border or not.

However, I also think this is just a "rule of thumb" and can be overwritten by any country as it pleases, e.g. US tax law applies to all income of US citizen around the world, subject only to international treaties.

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shmageggy 347 days ago | link

Ok interesting. So if this interpretation is correct, what happens if I'm in the US, but I log into a Canadian server and download the document remotely? I've initiated the act of copying in the US but the bits never enter the US (Or do they? What if the IP route goes through US internet backbones? And what if they get cached somewhere along the way, in the US? Is the ISP infringing?)

If that's ok, what if I then view the Canadian server's downloaded document on my local machine without explicitly downloading it (via remote desktop or even cat'ing a text file in an SSH session). I've not explicitly copied anything, but the very act of interacting with it remotely necessarily copies it to local memory.

What about the reverse situation, where a Canadian downloads Gatsby while logged into a US server?

(Note I'm not trying to heckle you or demean your answer. I actually very much appreciate the info, but I'm just trying to point out that even simple notions such as "copying a document" aren't necessarily coherent in a modern, digital context)

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tobiasu 347 days ago | link

Laws are not rules written in a programming language. Exploiting logic errors and corner cases does not work the same way. Don't make this mistake.

Whether a court will let your clever workaround pass or not is up to them. If what you do is not in their interest (or there are other forces present, like the government or lobbyists), you may find that the law is _very_ flexible in its application.

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infinite8s 347 days ago | link

This is one of hthose thorny edges of copyright, where plaintiffs have successfully argued that the act of moving the data from disk to memory constitutes a 'copy'.

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DanBC 347 days ago | link

> In my limited understanding jurisdiction is generally determined based on where the act takes place. So if a US citizen kills another US citizen in New Zealand, New Zealand has jurisdiction.

We've seen the US happily grab jurisdiction for many things that have at best a tenuous connection to the US. (.com tld? That's US, even if nothing is hosted or served in the US or used by US citizens)

There are important exceptions for some sex crimes. If it's a crime in the US then it doesn't matter if a man commits that crime abroad, he'll be arrested and brought back to the US and tried as if he had committed that offence in the US.

(England has similar laws too.)

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bigiain 347 days ago | link

"There are important exceptions for some sex crimes. If it's a crime in the US then it doesn't matter if a man commits that crime abroad, he'll be arrested and brought back to the US and tried as if he had committed that offence in the US."

Even if it happened in Sweden, between a Swedish citizen and an Australian, and it probably wasn't even a crime, and the "perpetrator" is in London.

Somehow out of the countries Sweden, The UK, The US, Australia, and Ecuador - only Ecuador seems to have a sane grasp on reality...

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corin_ 347 days ago | link

No, that's completely unrelated. In that case, the alleged crime took place in Sweden, so the Swedish courts are attempting to prosecute him. London's involvement is merely that countries have international extradition agreements, to prevent all criminals from being able to avoid the law by moving country. The US' involvement in purely speculation - maybe they're pulling the strings, but they're not officially involved.

So unless you think all extradition should be avoided (and whatever you think about the Assange case, would you be happy if somebody who lived near you murdered your family, moved to a neighboring country and you were told "well we can't do anything any more"?), the case has been handled perfectly from the point of view of which countries should do what.

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anonymfus 347 days ago | link

But usually crime must be crime in both countries for extradition. The problem is that it is not required for extradition between member states of EU in case of rape, but definition of rape is still very different between countries.

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sliverstorm 347 days ago | link

In my limited understanding jurisdiction is generally determined based on where the act takes place

Which is generally how it has to be. Otherwise the USA could legalize murder, thus allowing US citizens to legally murder New Zealanders in New Zealand with impunity.

Naturally an extreme example, but the understanding here is as old as time. "My roof, my rules".

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darkhorn 347 days ago | link

What if a Turkish citizen says bad words (swears) to Turkish people while he is abroad? Then the penalty increases 2 times. The interesting part here is that the laws of Turkey work even if you are not in Turkey.

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GigabyteCoin 347 days ago | link

Please just answer all of those questions above for us on the form, sir.

If you answer correctly, we will grant you access to the internet.

-SOPA/CISPA/ETC

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bigiain 347 days ago | link

I've made a point of never looking up what an "act of moral turpitude" is, which is something the US always asks me to attest that I've never committed every time I fill out their visa waiver form.

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GigabyteCoin 347 days ago | link

Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States and some other countries that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals." -Wikipedia

Looks like they don't want anything but "good american boys" entering the country.

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nealabq 347 days ago | link

You know, if one person, just one person clicks on that link, they may think he's really sick and they won't arrest him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both trollin and they won't hassle either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people clickin on the link. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day clickin, downloadin, and readin. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is , the Aussie download anti-massacre movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar.

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IbJacked 347 days ago | link

Nice Alice's Restaurant adaptation :) Funny that my internal voice started sounding like Guthrie several seconds before I got the reference.

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asveikau 347 days ago | link

> they may think they're both trollin

I can understand wanting to avoid the homophobic slur in the original, but trollin'? Bit of a stretch.

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gluejar 347 days ago | link

your version is better than mine. But I didn't have a guitar.

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nealabq 347 days ago | link

Your blog post is better than any comment of mine. And I stole your idea. And I haven't rehabilitated myself. I ain't moral enough to post on HN.

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Svip 347 days ago | link

I think he fails to answer whether it is legal to download it in say... my country, Denmark. And I am not even sure, but I think it might be.

Still, going through every copyright jurisdiction might be a bit over the top. But reminding ourselves that it is possible in Australia and Canada are a bit of a few choices. Oh and; his third option doesn't really seem to be much value to me either; I know which jurisdiction I am subject to, just not its exact rules.

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ernesth 347 days ago | link

The Great Gatsby is in the public domain in all countries but 7: the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Samoa, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, and Ivory Coast.

All countries except the USA apply a law that states that books enter the public domain a given number of years after the death of the author. In Europe, it is 70 years, in Canada 50, in Mexico 100. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_copyright_len...

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dwild 347 days ago | link

Is-it that simple? Chronicle of Narnia is from C.S. Lewis and he died the 22 November 1963, which mean that it will be legal to download it in Canada after November 22? J. R. R. Tolkien died 10 years later, which mean that we should be able to download Lord of the ring legally in 10 years?

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ernesth 346 days ago | link

In fact, you will have to wait until the first of january following the 50th anniversary of the death of the authors for the book to get into the public domain (that's what the "until year end" means), but yes it is that simple.

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gluejar 347 days ago | link

The Public Domain Calculator may be of use to you: http://outofcopyright.eu/ but there were a lot of acronyms I didn't know.

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brandon_wirtz 347 days ago | link

The author doesn't understand copyright. There is a difference between Legal, and beyond prosecution.

You as an individual living in a far off land (Australia) can't be prosecuted in Australia for copying a copy you legally obtained in the US. There is no extradition that will allow for the US to come get you in Australia. So if you copied, and you never visited the US you would be Safe from prosecution. You would not be legal. (There is a difference)

If you were Amazon. You have locations in the US and Australia. You are an international entity. You can not distribute Gatsby in Australia, because you are violating the copyright of the country of the original copyright, and you have presence in that country.

So the author's headline is wrong. You aren't "Legal" you are just beyond prosecution.

This isn't to say that I think Gatsby shouldn't be public domain... Just that the author is wrong.

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mekoka 347 days ago | link

It's my understanding that The Great Gatsby is already in the public domain in some countries (Canada, Australia), hence legal to distribute (and obtain for free), if one is subject to their copyright laws. Unless there's something that I missed, the author is not wrong.

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tjmc 347 days ago | link

You are correct. Australian copyright law used to be 50 years after the death of the author until the Australia-US free trade agreement a few years back. Now, thanks to our good friends at Disney it's 70 years like the US. However, stuff that had already passed into the public domain (Eg George Orwell) at the time of the agreement stayed public.

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btilly 347 days ago | link

I was going to correct you, spent time going through the Berne Convention to be able to say why you are wrong.

Then I read http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/03/15/more-foreigners-find-them... which let me know that you are right.

If the courts can identify some connection between the infringing act and the USA, then you can be sued by the USA. And the kinds of connections that have been deemed sufficient are pretty tenuous. For instance uploading to a website that - entirely unbeknown to you - automatically backs up to a US server suffices for US law to apply to you.

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gluejar 347 days ago | link

The author understands copyright enough to know that a full understanding of copyright is not compatible with sanity.

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kleiba 347 days ago | link

What if I fly to Australia, download the Great Gatsby there, put it on my Kindle and fly back to the states -- is it legal to bring my copy into the country?

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holloway 347 days ago | link

Legal. No copies were made in a jurisdiction in which it was illegal. Selling it may be another matter though

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shmageggy 347 days ago | link

What about giving it away? What about making personal backup copies?

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bigiain 347 days ago | link

I'm in Australia, and I downloaded it this morning.

What if I put my copy in Dropbox so I can read it on my phone/iPad? What's the legal status of the copy Dropbox have?

Dropbox say they encrypt my data when they store it on Amazon, what's the legal status of the encrypted copy on Amazon, and who'd be held responsible for that if it happens in a different jurisdiction to me and my original copy? What if Dropbox already has a copy and uses de-dupe to not bother storing my copy? What if I try-but-don't-end-up-uploading-thanks-to-dedup my legal-in-Australia copy from my laptop, then download a copy-of-something-I-never-uploaded to my iPad? What if that happened via WiFi sync instead of downloading the files from Dropbox/Amazon? Are the hashes of the files somehow "THE PROPERTY" of the author of the book they identify?

What If I'd dropped the Gatsby .mobi file into my BoxCryptor(EncFS) folder inside my Dropbox folder? Without my key, it's just random data that happens to be called "TheGreatGatsby.mobi". What if I'd saved in in a PGPDisk image stored in Dropbox - then it's just random data without even a questionable filename - it;s mathematically no different to /dev/random, somebody's encrypted pron collection, or wikileaks upcoming nations-state-embarrassing-drop.

What if I travel through the US with encrypted copies of Gatsby but don't decrypt them while I'm there? What if I "delete" any copies from devices I travel to the US with, but my OS leaves all the data on my disk and just removed the filesystem pointers? What if I did a dd bit-for-bit copy of that disk-with-deleted-but-still-recoverable copyright-in-the-US data? What if someone else who never knew the disk contained possibly-recoverable copyright encumbered data bit-for-bit copied the disk?

If the answers to the above depend on some status or location of the passwords or decryption keys, what are the further implications of that - does storing my keys/passwords in Dropbox put them and the encrypted data the protect into some particular jurisdiction? What if I store my 1Password encrypted password file on Dropbox? Does having my head cross the border into the US with the passwords/key inside it make a difference? Does it matter whether I'm carrying a device or memorycard/stick with the encrypted potentially copyrighted data on it, or does have the encryption key in my head to data stored "in the cloud" somehow matter?

Copyright law, at least as it's developed/evolved since Gutenberg, really wasn't written with the capabilities and edgecases of modern technology in mind. Judges are called upon to interpret century-old artistic-expression-as-a-physical-object copyright laws to modern sync and cache enabled technology much of which is considered obsolete withing half a decade - and they don't always have sane/sensible interpretations available to them. They've got an army of oblivious/self-entitled Game Of Thrones torrenting kiddies on one side, and an army of Prenda Law style vexatious litigants on the other.

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gluejar 347 days ago | link

It's pretty clear that you would not be able to legally sell your Kindle with the imported copy- that was discussed in the Kirtsaeng decision, but I'm not sure if importing the copy for your personal use would be technically legal.

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sage_joch 347 days ago | link

This inspired a submission to /r/firstworldanarchists on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/firstworldanarchists/comments/1dzhw4...

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kyt 347 days ago | link

What is the difference between inheriting money and inheriting copyrighted works? One is a lump sum payment and the other is an annuity. They're viewed vastly differently, but they're essentially both just winning the lottery.

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lmm 347 days ago | link

Does copyright inheritance get taxed like money?

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ajuc 347 days ago | link

In my country it's legal to download ANYTHING. It's only illegal to share and distribute copyrighted data. So if you torrent you can be persecuted because it's P2P and you distribute it, but if you download it without sharing you're OK.

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slygent 347 days ago | link

Heck, it's legal to download "1984" by George Orwell in much of the world, and that was published in 1949.

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summerdown2 345 days ago | link

Not in the US from Amazon, though:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18ama...

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kaushikt 347 days ago | link

haha true that !

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kaushikt 347 days ago | link

you really should not be saying 'Dont click on this link'. What do you think people are gonna do ? Evil you !

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