Espresso Book Machine raises copyright issues

The machine allows patrons to create their own books from PDF files.

Used textbooks line the shelves of the University Bookstore. The new Espresso Book Machine, though providing an inexpensive alternative to buying books, might infringe on copyright laws.

As of Sept. 23, the Espresso Book Machine is installed and operating, but the legal implications of this machine are still being sorted through.

The machine, which is not yet open to the public, is capable of printing any PDF file provided by the customer. This enables customers to print anything they desire, regardless of whether it is copyrighted. But there are parameters in place to avoid copyright infringement.

"We will check everything submitted," University Bookstore spokeswoman Michelle Froese said. "The staff will physically go through every submission."

Regarding the machine, copyright is actually very straightforward, said Heather Tearney, Mizzou Media coordinator in University Bookstore.

If a customer wishes to include copyrighted material in a book, permission from the original publisher must be obtained.

"For example, we understand that people will see a picture of Britney Spears and want to put it in their book," Tearney said.

Customers are required to sign a waiver that all materials are their own or they have secured permission to use it in their book. The waiver holds the customer responsible for any copyright laws they might violate.

"Copyright laws are a big deal," Tearney said. "It has especially been a touchy subject since Napster. Publishers have become more and more strict. Those who do get caught tend to be made examples of with huge fines, jail time or a slap on the wrist. It just depends."

Mizzou Media has published a copyright guide to inform people of copyright laws.

Mizzou Media is also in the process of printing its own line of books called University Classics. University Classics is made up of public domain books, which means either the copyright has expired or the book was written before copyright law. Some of these books are "Huckleberry Finn," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Great Expectations."

Graduate student Aimee Wachtel is the graphic designer for Mizzou Media and is helping design the University Classics series.

"I came up with the unifying elements on the front covers of the book and found art for some of the covers," Wachtel said. "I also designed the interior of the books, the typeface and layout."

Much of the cover art comes from the original books and is public domain, such as that of "Huckleberry Finn."

Wachtel is not limited to the design of the University Classics series though.

"As a graphic artist, I am excited to focus on photo books," Wachtel said.

Photo books will be in the works once additional paper selections are available.

It costs 6 cents per page to print a book on the machine, but improved paper quality and different paper options will eventually be available for an additional fee, Froese said.

The first original book being published on the machine is a piece by Jennie McAfee, an 83-year-old Columbia resident. McAfee said she has been working on her book for most of her lifetime.

"I spent 18 years making a chronological mural of Adam and Eve to present time," McAfee said. "When I finished, I saw much needed to be explained, so I began writing my book. Most of it was done without computers."

Froese said University Bookstore would hold a grand opening event for the Espresso Book Machine in November.

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