Legalities Question

Ok, this might be a silly question, but I’m not sure if something I want to do is legal or illegal.

So, I’ve got some books in pdf format that are obtained legally (ie, EGA as downloaded from Numdam) which are rather out of print. I’d like to have nice copies of them to keep on my shelf and use as references…I don’t have an ebook reader, so I still prefer dead tree format. Now, there are companies like Lulu which will essentially take a PDF and convert it into an actual book, and are able to do print runs of 1, or 5, or however small. (At least, that’s my understanding)

So my question is: is it legal to have a company like Lulu print a copy of EGA (or similar out of print book) for personal use, with it not being set up to sell it to anyone else or to make a profit for me in any way?
If anyone out there actually knows what the laws on matters like this are, please help out and let me know if I’m allowed to do this.


About Charles Siegel

Charles Siegel is currently a postdoc at Kavli IPMU in Japan. He works on the geometry of the moduli space of curves.
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3 Responses to Legalities Question

  1. Isabel says:

    For what it’s worth, I have on occasion printed out books from on printers and had the resulting pile of paper bound at a copy shop. The result doesn’t look that nice, but is clearly legal — you have the right to print out the files you have, and getting it bound is just a matter of punching some holes or doing some gluing or some other purely physical operation.

  2. eliza says:

    Is Isabel even correct about being allowed to print the entire book? Most libraries would consider printing or copying a chapter or article for academic purposes as fair use, but not an entire book.

    Even if she is right, you’d likely not be able to meet Lulu’s stated terms of use.

  3. eliza, I believe it’s ok to print out a whole book when the book is available for free download on the internet (legal free download, in fact). In Isabel’s case, she could well be referring to A=B or generatingfunctionology, whereas I’m more concerned with EGA, all of which are available legally and freely online.

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