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How to access 100,000+ free books online (and not get into trouble for illegal downloading)

October 1, 2019

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

It might be available, but a lot of the content you consume online isn’t free, or even legal.

We’re not just talking about getting one month free of Netflix with each new email signup (they’ve figured that one out) or memes of your best friend’s hair on the finsta  account y’all made her for her birthday, which she actually loves. We’re talking stuff you download on the internet that is of dubious origin and uncertain ownership. Or – AHEM – the stuff you upload

Anyone who’s had their hilarious home-video edits of famous footage “disappeared” from YouTube might relate  (even if it’s not necessarily justified). There are rules around content and ownership online, whether it started there or not, whether it’s moving images or static text. Much of the English-language content is created in America, and platforms based there have guides about it, like this one from YouTube:

 

 

Even if it’s only your conscience that’s costing you and you don’t get caught, the growth of Artificial Intelligence means there are more and more eyes on you online , so there’s every reason to stay within the confines of law.

But free stuff is always in fashion. So how about 100,000 books that weren’t (technically) free before? A retro fix might be all you need to address your screen time restlessness.

The New York Public Library recently found that “80 percent of books published between 1924 and 1963 are (or should be) in the public domain”. This means they belong to the public as a whole and are not copyrighted. In its foresight and filial spirit, the Library scanned many of these of books and put them on the World Wide Web.

If you know the title or author of a book that was published in America between these years, you can look for it on the Hathi Trust and it might be there (they aren’t all uploaded). If you don’t feel like searching for a specific title, let this bot suggest a new one to you every few hours.

Thank you, NY Public Library. We’ve definitely got time for that.

Sources

  • https://thenextweb.com/tech/2019/08/07/100000s-books-free-thanks-confusing-copyright-law/

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