Hypothetical facts

  1. Alice buys a hardback book from the publisher for $70.

  2. Alice makes a digital copy of the book and posts it online to an account only Alice can access.

  3. For one week, Alice rents exclusive access to the online file for one day each to Melanie, Tanya, Wanda, Tammy, Francis, Sam and Serena for $10/day per person.


Have any copyright laws been broken? If so, which ones, specifically?



  1. So far so good.
  2. This is a copyright violation but it is probably fair use - certainly there is case law permitting a copy of a backup digital asset to be made so I don’t see why a similar argument wouldn’t work with backing up a physical book.
  3. Clear copyright violation. Alice can rent out the original under the first sale doctrine but the ‘backup’ is not so protected. It’s not fair use because it’s use is commercial, the work is a type of work the author expects to profit from, the entire work has been copied and the use is deleterious to the market i.e. the renters are less likely to buy an original - it falls foul of all four factors of the fair use test.
  • 1
    Yep, yep, yep. Commenting just to answer the OP's question about which specific law is broken: 17 U.S. Code § 106.
    – bdb484
    Sep 9 '19 at 17:37
  • Follow up question Sep 9 '19 at 22:22

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