Technically this is copyright infringement, because you are making a copy of the text, or a significant part of it. Or more exactly it would be in soem countries, but not others.
In some countries "personal use" is an exception to copyright, and in those countries making such a copy for your own use would be lawful and not infringement. The US does not have such an exception, and I think neither does the UK.
In the US the primary exception to copyright is fair use. Fair use is complicated, and intentionally vague. There is no clear line between what is fair use and what is not. But in this case, it seems that you will be copying a substantial part of the book, and that doing so will permit you not to purchase a copy, which you otherwise might do. Those things will tend to weigh against a claim ofm fair use.
Legally, taking pictures is no different than using a photocopier to make copies on paper, or indeed copying the text by hand. In each case one is making a copy without permission.
Of course, if this is strictly for personal use, it is unlikely that the copyright owner would ever learn of it, or would choose to sue. But that does not affect whether something is copyright infringement or not.
Note that it is not infringement for someone to loan you a copy of the book, and for you to read it and study it before returning it. That you did not pay for the text is not the determining factor.
Copyright is literally the right to make copies. Making a copy without permission is infringement unless an exception to copyright applies.
Personal Use exemptions
Sections 5.2(a) and 5.2(b) of the EU's Information Society Directive provide such exceptions in some cases. According to the Wikipedia article:
- art. 5.2(a) paper reproductions by photocopying or similar methods, except of sheet music, if there is compensation for rightsholders;
- art. 5.2(b) reproductions made for private and non-commercial use if there is compensation for rightholders;
In addition, I believe that some EU countries have more extensive personal use exemptions dating from before this directive which remain in place.
According to the UK's official page "Exceptions to Copyright":
You are allowed to copy limited extracts of works when the use is non-commercial research or private study, but you must be genuinely studying (like you would if you were taking a college course). Such use is only permitted when it is ‘fair dealing’ and copying the whole work would not generally be considered fair dealing.
The purpose of this exception is to allow students and researchers to make limited copies of all types of copyright works for non-commercial research or private study. In assessing whether your use of the work is permitted or not you must assess if there is any financial impact on the copyright owner because of your use. Where the impact is not significant, the use may be acceptable.
Section 52 of the Copyright Act of India provides in relevant part:
- Certain acts not to be infringement of copyright. —
(1) The following acts shall not constitute an infringement of copyright, namely, —
[(a) a fair dealing with any work, not being a computer programme, for the purposes of—
(i) private or personal use, including research;
Section 52 (1) lists more than 30 separate exceptions to copyright, but none of the othes seem relevant here.
In "Exceptions and Limits to Copyright and Neighboring Rights" by Pierre Sirinelli, Professor Paris I University (Part of a WIPO workshop), it is said on page 12 that:
At first glance, the exception applicable to private copies appears to be a universal
solution. Many different forms of private copying are, however, accepted and a certain
number of questions remain unanswered.
The principle of freedom to make private copies appears in almost all régimes, but in
very different forms or stated in very different ways.
It may apply implicitly as a result of the author’s monopoly and “acts subject to
restriction”. The requirement on reproduction for public use (to be found in almost every law, see for example Article L.122-3 of the French Intellectual Property Code), on the other hand, leads to the conclusion that private copies are not subject to the author’s authorization.
In other countries, the freedom stems quite simply from the acceptance of a general
The solution adopted in other countries regarding this freedom is expressly set out by the legislators in the list of exceptions to copyright. (In France, for example, Article L.122-5 of the Intellectual Property Code; Germany, Article 53.1 of the Law of September 9, 1965; Portugal, Article 81b) of the code of September 17, 1985; and Tunisia. ...
Lastly, in some countries it can be inferred from somewhat more specific exceptions. These can include “fair dealing” (for example, copies for individual study purposes or research, see below) present in some copyright laws (Article 29.2 a) of the Canadian Act, Article 29.1 of the British Act – see below – for the moment Article 40 of the Australian Act).
In Canada, for example, a private copy can be made both of a work already existing on a
material medium and a work not yet fixed on such a support (a broadcast is one example). A private copy means one single reproduction of the work (uniqueness of the copy made) and
genuinely private use (which excludes any reproduction for the purposes of distribution or communication to the public or for profit)
On page 10 of the same paper it is said:
... For example, some Member States (UK and Ireland) provide in their legislation a general ‘fair dealing’ exception for the purposes of research, private study, criticism and review and reporting of current events. Exceptions for these purposes
also exist in other Member States, but are more narrowly defined there (such as in Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Greece). Exceptions for educational and scientific purposes form another important category set out in most Member States’ legislation, whereas the scope of such exception differs widely. (Emphasis added)