I have a scan machine at my home so i have scanned a lot of school textbooks to create ebooks. I am wondering if it possible for someone to buy an ebook from me in this manner and for it to be legal.

What i want to do is to create a website that sells ebooks (since some people prefer them to actual books) You'd still need to pay as much as for an original book and I would buy the actual book and scan it for people and then send them the file.
I wonder if that is breaking any laws since they technically do own the book but they might not have the equipment necessarily to create an ebook.

Do you guys have any idea about laws concerning this kind of business?

  • 1
    Interesting blog here that suggests it may be legal if you are simply scanning a book that someone already owns: teleread.com/ebooks/… If two people wanted the same book scanned, you'd likely need both of those people to each buy a hard copy.
    – Jason Down
    Jan 26, 2014 at 22:56
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    Also note that this question may be off-topic for this site.
    – Jason Down
    Jan 26, 2014 at 22:57
  • Thanks Jason, but why would it be off topic. Is it because it deals with the legal aspects of ebooks?
    – Xitcod13
    Jan 26, 2014 at 23:25
  • Yes, legal advice is a grey area for all stackexchange sites. Of course, we'll let the community decide if it is off-topic or not.
    – Jason Down
    Jan 26, 2014 at 23:38
  • How would you enforce that they own the book? Sorry, but photocopying the book is illegal without consent from the publisher.
    – Gaʀʀʏ
    Feb 4, 2014 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


This is not legal advice, but the answer to your question is almost always no.

In general, it is illegal to sell a copy (physical or electronic) of a book if you are also keeping a copy. Say you own a physical copy of a book. You can sell that copy, but you generally cannot sell an electronic copy, regardless of whether you keep the physical copy. This is also generally true even if the buyer owns a physical or electronic copy of the book already. This is because copyright protects the copyright owner's exclusive right to make or distribute copies in the first place.

If you are even thinking of doing this, you absolutely must consult a copyright lawyer. There are very large potential penalties for copyright infringement, regardless of the amount of money changing hands. For example, one person was ordered to pay $1.5 million for sharing 24 mp3s.

So, the answer is: probably not. Tread with extreme care and consult a lawyer.

  • Thanks Ed. Would you happen to know if it still be legal to create an ebook copy of a book for someone if they brought their own book?
    – Xitcod13
    Jan 30, 2014 at 0:58
  • Glad to help. That is definitely an area where you should talk to a lawyer. This is an area that is changing quickly, and not one in which I am an expert.
    – elixenide
    Jan 30, 2014 at 1:51

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