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Online Book Buying Can Violate Copyright Law
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Buying a book online is often cheaper but it can violate copyright law, according to the Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau.

More merchants are selling books online simply by downloading digital editions and printing them. Most of the digital information is provided by the online community for file sharing.

Many buyers like the low cost of such books, but experts said it violates intellectual property rights law.

"It is legal for people to download books from Websites for reading or research, but it violates the author's rights if they are downloading a book to make money," said Gu Changsheng, a lawyer. "But people who spread novels unattributed on the Internet without approval, even if they do not intend to make money, also violate the copyright."

Copyright law stipulates that any person or organization using the work of others on the Internet should obtain permission from the owner and pay an agreed amount.

Online books not only include published novels, but also class notes for students.

"Merchants also violate the law if they print the notes and sell them without permission," said an official of the Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau.

Nonetheless, the bureau did not express serious concern about the problem.

"Though we haven't cracked down on online merchants, we will investigate if there is a lawsuit about this," the bureau said.

The books are popular with students.

"We prefer the online books because they are very cheap," said a college student surnamed Chen. "For example, it costs me more than 20 yuan (US$2.5) to buy a novel in a bookstore, but for the same amount I can buy four online printed novels."

Other students said they will resort to printed books online only when they can't find a certain title in stores.

"The online option is useful because we can even find textbooks no longer published," said Li Renbin, a freshman majoring in finance.

(Shanghai Daily April 17, 2007)

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