A Thriving Used Book Market

Included in a used copy of a book I just bought is my receipt for the purchase and serendipitously, a receipt for when the seller of my used book bought the book herself, used. Pleasant happenstance like this makes me happy.

The two receipts

Unfortunately, no price was listed on my seller’s purchase receipt, so I do not know if she made a profit or loss in her transaction with me. In any case, I hope to not receive a copyright claim demanding $300 if I ever choose to resell the book myself. That, surely would not be a serendipitous inclusion.

And while we’re on the subject of publishers imposing in-perpetuity conditions on buyers, check out Oxford University Press’s language (found in Victoria Braithwaite’s book Do Fish Feel Pain?)

“You must impose the same conditions on any acquirer.”

Is this akin to Creative Commons’ ShareAlike license term under which, “if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one”? Although the aims of the two organizations are very different — Creative Commons wants to provide “everyone [with] simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work” while OUP means to limit blanket grants of copyright permissions as much as possible (“no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, with the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press”) — both organizations employ “in perpetuity” language that ensure their conditions bind all future users. Control, it seems, is something that many an authors — from the traditionally published to the more copyleft-minded — want to hang on to. (This one included.)

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2 Responses to A Thriving Used Book Market

  1. Tourism Oxford says:

    This comment was in an actual hard copy text? You’re not thinking of an ebook here? If it’s hardcopy, I don’t get what they’re trying to do.

    • The OUP statement was found in the electronic version of the book. My guess is that OUP adopted the language wholesale from the print version. Moreover, it seems like they adopted those statements from a UK version of the book (which is funny since the work is originally published in the US). The reason I think that the book displays UK-origins is that there are restrictions about book covers that seem to attach to works released in the UK, but most books that carry that statement explicitly exempt those published in the US. Not this one, which also claims author’s moral rights and database right — two other legal concepts that are not recognized in the US. This whole thing looks a bit like OUP didn’t exercise the most care in releasing an e-version.

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