There is a number of digital libraries such as Europeana, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Kramerius, Polona and so forth. Each offers a large colletion of digitized books. Many of these books are available in Public Domain, meaning I can do almost anything with them.
But while some libraries allow unrestricted use of their Public Domain content, others do not and limit the use of their copies to Non-Commercial use. It is my understanding that NC only applies to the digital copy, not the work itself.
Now, the copy o a book is a collection of images. Let's say I want to use these publicly available NC images to restore the original value of the PD work (i.e. use OCR to obtain text of a book), and then use that extracted data (i.e. PD text) commercially, for instance I want to sell my clean text copies as ebooks. What I would end up in the end is my textual reproduction of a Public Domain work, which I can use. But it would be derived from a Non-Commercial copy.
Is that breach of NC licence, if I am profiting from a reproduction of PD text I extracted myself, but using NC digital copy (scanned images) of that book to retrieve it?
I personally considered the following line of reasoning in favor of an individual being able to use the end result commercially, i.e. for selling ebooks of Public Domain works:
- The photographer has copyright in the photograph itself, not in the items photographed.
- A “slavish copy” of a work would not qualify for protection if there is no creativity involved.
- Copyright protects literary and artistic expression, not facts.
I am interested in how this works globally, but mostly within the EU.