old catalgues or new library

5:13 p.m. on December 14, 2008 (EST)
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would it be possible for trailspace to open a library? what a great service this would be if we could scan our old catalogues and enter them into a libary where they would be available to us all. it would be helpful before we purchase something to check the original specifications of that gear.
on the internet you can find most all of the old bicycle catalogues, if you want to know the original parts that came on your 87 trek of 65 gitane you can get that info. if i were buying a used kelty b4 and wanted to know the volume, total weight, and correct size for me i would have to buy an old catalogue on ebay or send alan an email. the prices that some of these catalogues bring on ebay put them out of my reach. maybe more people would be interested in used gear if they knew a little more of what they are getting.

8:51 p.m. on December 14, 2008 (EST)
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lazya4, while that is a great idea, there may be a slight problem, namely the one Google has run into. Google and a couple of universities wanted to scan in "all the world's books" for purposes of preservation and accessibility. The scanned books would be available on the web (maybe free, maybe for a fee, depending on several things to be decided). But the book and magazine publishers and descendants of the original authors have a series of lawsuits to stop the availability of the books, even in cases where the copyrights had long expired. Some settlements have been reached, in which "excerpts" can be viewed, with the question of how large an "excerpt" and how many excerpts from a given publication would be acceptable. At this point, a large number of long out of copyright books have been scanned and are available.

So the potential problem is that currently existing companies might object or demand a fee, as well as the heirs or owners of tradenames. I know of a case where the catalog of a person I knew who is now deceased got scanned and posted on the web in a discussion forum, and the current owner of the trade name objected, with the result that the post has been deleted.

Remember that copyrights last for potentially up to 95 years after publication. Under some circumstances, it can be 70 years, or in some cases the publication might have gone into public domain immediately. Here is a chart of the very complex copyright duration rules http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/

As an example, my photographs that appear in the News reports here on Trailspace are copyrighted by me until 70 years after my death. That means that no one can reproduce them, whether for profit or just to hang on their wall, without my permission or my heirs for 70 years after I die. In the case of the catalogs, you would need written permission from the company to be legal. If they or their successor company objected, whoever did the scanning and the website owner could end up owing a lot of money. Same goes for your photos of that fabulous trip you took last summer that you posted on Picassa or wherever - you own all rights to those photos, and to the contents of your web posts for the rest of your life, and your heirs do until 70 years after you die. Now I'm not sure that anyone would get rich off copying my photos or writings, but some people do make a living off their creative works. So if you sell copies of my photos for millions of dollars, you owe me at least 90% of the sales (there are lawyers, by the way, who make lots of money pursuing such suits).

There is such a thing as "Fair Use Doctrine", but I doubt that publication on a popular web site would be considered such.

2:10 p.m. on December 15, 2008 (EST)
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bill thanks for the feedback. i did go and check a few of my favorite bicycle "catalogue" sites and there was the thank you to the corportations that owned the copyrights. thanking them for their permission to reprint the catalogue. i would bet that most of the companies that are still in business would be willing to do something like that. after all it is still advertising for them.
do you think trailspace would have the storage space and interest for something like that? let me know, i would be willing to put some personal time into this project.

9:30 p.m. on December 15, 2008 (EST)
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I think this is a very interesting idea. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, lazya4.

Bill raises a lot of valid legal concerns, but it's still something I want to think about. It would be cool to have as much of that archival info available in PDF or other formats. I'd need to know more about obtaining the necessary (and lasting) permission.

Any lawyers out there are welcome to chime in.

6:05 p.m. on December 17, 2008 (EST)
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Re: old cataloges or new library

I say just scan them in. It is for a purpose of nostalgia not profit. There are a number of guitar sites that do this and it is quite useful. We need to stop living in fear or litigation that will probably never happen

7:14 p.m. on December 17, 2008 (EST)
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I've slowly been scanning my backpacking catalog collection from the 70's to the present, but am only able to do so when I get them out of storage. With over several hundred catalogs (700) it will take several years, hopefully by then any legal issues can be resolved and I can share them.
What about companies that are no longer around, can those old catalogs be scanned and shared?

9:49 a.m. on December 18, 2008 (EST)
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700 catalogs - you are my idol. I'm hoping to get my collection sorted and filed and cataloged this winter, but I don't have anything approaching 700.

I've got a handful of catalogs scanned, it does take a bit of time to do each one.

Alicia, you may try contacting the person who set up this website on vintage cannondale catalogs. He has quite a few scanned completely. I don't know what he did in relation to legal issues.

My guess is companies still around would view this as free advertising and companies long since gone, likely due to bankruptcy, it's probably not an issue. You could always easily delete the catalog if someone objected.

1:39 p.m. on December 18, 2008 (EST)
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Thanks for the link, Alan. I'll check it out.

We've got a few ideas about how to go about this and really do want to pursue it. I agree that it can be an opportunity for many manufacturers and will get in contact with a few reps to start, when I have some free time.

The obsessive compulsive part of me thinks it would be great to have all of this info organized for gear afficionados.

2:41 p.m. on December 18, 2008 (EST)
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alica here is site that has permission from the company
it would seem to me that the companies that aren't around would be the most diffucult. somebody does own the rights and free advertising is not necessarily a benift to them. as bill noted a case where the owner had part of a catalogue removed from a website. the hardest part about the decessed companies is going to be finding who does own the rights. some of these people might even make themselves know and offer their permission if we get this thing going.

8:05 p.m. on December 18, 2008 (EST)
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To folow up on what Alicia said: we're already working on some functionality to allow members to upload and manage photos, which should also work fine for catalog scans. We'll hopefully have that up and running early in the new year. Then we can build on that to provide a more centralized way to browse all catalogs and maybe even tie them into the relevant brand and product pages in the gear reviews section of the site.

July 30, 2014
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