Put simply, Copyright is a form of legal protection supported by law: it gives an author the right to control how their material is used. Anything you wish to do with a free or retail ebook, other than read it, requires the author's written permission; via personal correspondence or a printed statement within the book.
Copyright is automatic: it belongs to the author as soon as a work is created. There is no legal requirement to register, although an author may register their work voluntarily via the Copyright Office in the United States for public filing. E-books will usually have a Copyright Notice: the © copyright symbol (a letter C in inside a circle) alongside the author's name and the year the work was created; although this is not strictly required because a book is still protected without a notice of Copyright.
As a general rule, in the U.K. and Europe, Copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. In the U.S. however, books published before 1922 are now in the Public Domain along with others created in later years prior to 1976. Further reading: U.S. Copyright Office Copyright Basics and from Cornell University: Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States.
If you download a Copyright protected book from a website that is not an official distributor or retailer you will be supporting digital piracy so always check the site's credentials.
At obooko we support, abide by and comply with Copyright legislation so you can be confident the books you download from this site are distributed legally.
THIS IS LEGAL:
Writing about and providing a link from your blog, website or social network to any page on obooko.com
THIS IS ILLEGAL (forbidden by law:)
Downloading a Copyright protected ebook from obooko, uploading the digital file to your server and making it available from your website for direct download. It is also an offence, punishable by law, to offer free ebooks for sale.
You will find three 'usage' types on obooko:
Standard Copyright: the majority of free e-books on obooko are strictly Copyright protected works. The main acts that offer legal protection of an author's intellectual property rights are the The Copyright Act of 1976 in the United States of America, and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in the United Kingdom. To do anything with an author's work other than read it, you need the author's written permission to do so; otherwise, you commit an illegal act. In general, you must not copy or reproduce; alter; transmit; distribute free or for sale, any work without written permission from the Copyright holder.
Creative Commons licensed ebooks are more accommodating. They are published under a specific licence, which is a set of conditions which may allow you to copy, share, remix and make derivative works. However, some of the author's legal rights as Copyright holder still apply and you must read and abide by the terms of the actual Creative Commons licence appearing inside each work. Please note that while the text of a book may be licensed this way, the book's cover art and any added illustrations or photographs may be protected separately by the creator/s under Copyright law. Always check.
Public Domain books have no restrictions. If no laws establish proprietary rights over a work to restrict its use by the public at large; typically when Copyright has lapsed or has deliberately been waived by the author, it is deemed to be in the Public Domain. However, while the text may be in the Public Domain, cover art and design features may be protected separately by Copyright law so ensure you contact the publisher if you wish to copy or distribute a specific Public Domain book.