Friday, September 01, 2006

Sharing the e-book "The Master Key System"

I downloaded (legally) and have begun to read The Master Key System, a book published in 1916 and now being offered by The second page of the book states the following:

The original text is now in the public domain.

However, this free e-book edition is not in the public domain. It cannot
be shared, distributed or reproduced in whole or in part.

If you would like to share this e-book with others please direct
them to our web site
where a legitimate copy can be downloaded for free.

What is different from this e-book than the original?
  • It has been digitized
  • It has a new front cover
  • There is a new preface
Indeed the people from have created a derivative work. In fact, they did what many digitization projects do -- took something in that is in the public domain and made it available to a new audience by creating an electronic copy. Having done that work, they ask that people register (free) with them to receive a copy, rather than getting a copy from someone else. However, they've done nothing to prevent people from sharing copies. And no parts of the e-book contain a copyright statement (although copyright on the preface would be implied).

I wish the people from had thought more about how they were sharing the book. For example:
  • Why should people go to their web site to obtain a copy? If you want me to go to your web site to do something, tell me why there is a benefit to doing so. Why should I take the extra steps? What's in it for me?
  • Why shouldn't people share their copies? What's in it for them if they don't share the e-book?
  • Can you make it easy for people to share a link or recommend the e-book?
  • What does it mean that this e-book isn't in the public domain? Does that mean that it is copyrighted (which they never state)? Can this be explained better so it makes sense to users?
If you have read this far, think about the things on your web site -- perhaps as part of your digitization program -- that you want people to use.
  • Have you made it clear what they can do with the materials and how?
  • Have you made using the materials easy?
  • If you don't want people to share the materials, have you explained that in a way that makes sense to them? Have you given them easy options for sharing pointers or links to the materials?
We tend to shy away from the explicit, yet it clears up doubts when we say what we really mean. And it helps those around us when we not only say what we mean, but then give them tools to easy comply with our wishes. (I'm thinking of how easy it is to e-mail blog post link from Bloglines.) If we do those things, our users will thank us.


TOR Hershman said...

You make a most solid point, Mrs. Hurst-Wahl.

John Mark Ockerbloom said...

Well, if the note *were* clear, they'd just say "The cover and preface are copyrighted. Our annotations [if they've made any] are copyrighted. The digitized 1916 text isn't." (Unless they did something other than create a straight transcription of the text.)

Copyright requires originality, and literal digitization of public domain text doesn't create a new copyright (see Feist v. Rural Telephone, Bridgman v. Corel.) Because digitization can require a fair bit of effort, book digitizers are sometimes reluctant to let others free-ride on it. But they can't honestly claim copyright on what they've done, at least not under US law.

Anonymous said...

There is on page 158 the term "VCR" in the text the "Secret" site is offering. They clearly modified the original text.To what degree, I do not know or care. I appreciate their clarity about what works for them.

InspiredMind said...

Is that, by any chance, a book by Wallace Wattles? I am aware that much of The Secret is directly based on the content of his book (from around the early 1900's) called The Science of Getting Rich. I am wondering if this Master Key System is by the same guy.


Jonathan Evatt

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Jonathan, if you run the title of the book in Google or Amazon, you'll see that it was written by Charles F. Haanel.

Anonymous said...

But it is throught that both book ressemble alot to each other. I read them both I adored them both. The Science of Getting Rich (SoGR) written by Wallace Wattles explain how to get rich, and how you should act and think, it really concentrate on the practical aspect of getting what you want, and not Why. On the other The Master Key system (MK) written by Charles F. Haanel is a more complete book, that talks about how to get rich, and why it works ? what are the principle behind it. I strongly suggest that you read both, and maybe SOgR in first. Since they are not the same, they explain it in different terms which helps you to get a more complete understand of the principles, since you have different point of view to look at it.

bkinash said...

Great discussion, Haanels work is wonderful, The Master Key System is very straight forward in 24 parts - in a don't read this like a novel setup, the original was a mail out 24 part self study, with various publications following.
There is a site The Master Key System Community that is focused on studying the Master Key System, providing Audio for some parts (more coming) and an open forum for discussion, it's all free - but registration is required for forum posting.

Anonymous said...

Actually, those "The Secret" folks are being a little less than honest.

The "VCR" reference exists because the original guy who digitized the text decided to take it upon himself to update some of the old 1912 text and make it more relevant to the modern world.

I made a copy of that scanned pdf that he uploaded and put it on my own site - I was ranking number 1 in Google for "The Master Key System" at the time - and took out a lot of those references and put most of the language back to the original...otherwise I would have had to scan the entire thing again myself.

Unfortunately, the VCR reference was one I missed and there are a few others too.

"The Secret" folks just took a copy of that now doubly-amended work and claimed it was their own - and placed this silly ban about others copying it.

The original intent of the original scanner, and myself, was to ensure that the work reached as many people as possible.

It is a rather sad reflection on how money-driven these "The Secret" folks are.

Whether they will be honest enough to disclose the origin of their "copyrighted work" remains to be seen. It has been a few years now (I did the modifications in 2002) and nothing has been admitted yet.

Anonymous said...

Where can I obtain the Master Key System with the complete original text?

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

I would check Google Book Search to see if an original version is there for you to read. If you are looking for something hardbound, you might check Amazon (used books).