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Watch Out The Next Time You Digitally Record Your Notes!

May 12th, 2007 by Wai Loong (Add Your Comment)

Your PDA or mobile phone could be the bane of your day!

Read on to find out why…

Have you ever gone into a bookstore and start picking up a book for reading?

I bet you have or else you can stop reading here. 😉

Actually, I was pretty disturbed today at a book store and it lead me into writing this post to get it off my chest.

Having attended a forum today in the afternoon and thinking there was enough time before hitting for home in the evening, I was inspired to drop by a bookstore today near City Hall MRT (Singapore).

I’m more of a geek so naturally, I’ll pick up a few programming related books. 😉

Today is a quite different. I picked up a book using PHP to do some amazing SEO tricks so I paused at a very interesting chapter. I was quite interested to improve the user experience here so I was naturally excited to know if I can pick up a few useful tips there.

I know I don’t have a super good memory and I don’t have a pen with me so I have no idea how I can remember the gold nuggets.

You see, the gold nuggets I’m talking about, are useful web resources commonly found on many books, especially particular to IT related books. How on earth do you possibly remember such a long URL (20+ characters)?

I checked the price and it was priced at over $60!

If you’ve ever bought any IT related books in the past, you will know my concern. These types of books get obsoleted so fast that it doesn’t usually justify buying just for 1 or 2 chapters that you find useful.

Furthermore, you will usually find this type of IT book in the Singapore National Library in about 6 to 8 months from publication. Therefore, it doesn’t make financial sense to buy such an expensive reference book.

Suddenly, a little ingenious bulb lit and I whipped out my trusted Nokia 6610 (camera-less) phone and began taking about 4 URLs that was very interesting.

Well, actually I’m lousy with texting and you can visualize me standing next to the bookshelf, painstakingly writing for about 5 minutes.


Never did I expect myself to be accused of stealing information from the book, or taking anything out from the book, if I was not ready to pay for it!

I was utterly embarrassed so I quickly and profusely apologized and returned the book back on its display window.

Two thoughts raced across my mind at that moment:

1. Leave the store quickly for the fear of guilt, as would any person would…

2. Find something to buy that “compensates” for the intangible “losses” incurred by my folly.

I was actually quite upset by my enthusiasm when I was reading the book, that I did not catch myself for setting up into that situation. I wasn’t intending to steal anything there because I was thinking that it was really a pretty harmless thing to do by taking a few notes, as anyone in the situation would do if a piece of paper and pen is within reach.

Furthermore, I debated internally with myself that the local law does allow anyone to photocopy no more than 10% of a book, or 1 chapter of a book whichever is less. So it make perfect sense and at least legal to freely take a few notes. After all, how much can an average person type on a mobile phone without getting disgusted?

I know that it is common knowledge in America and in some countries, filming or photo taking is not allowed within the premises of retail stores . Had I carry a camera phone, I might have committed an unforgivable mistake!

So a very important lesson to learn here:
“Watch what you do with your camera enabled devices or it might get you into serious trouble one day!”

Eventually, I picked option #2 and made a purchase ($52) before the store closes for the day… and I was quite happy (and a lot more at peace!) at the outcome for the following reasons:

1. The burden of guilt was lifted like magic as I pay for something else in the store.
2. The book I buy is most likely not going to hit the national library shelf for the next 2 years (not an IT, but a rare business related book) and it is very useful for my current research work.

I reflected over the incident and concluded that I was rational and big enough to accept my own mistake and took action to treated the business fairly. I figured out that it was a win-win for both the store and myself.

Had I thought small, I would have left the store, feeling guilty and losing the opportunity to find a wonderful book I was searching for on a topic I am currently passionate about. Furthermore, the business might have lost on a customer as a result. I don’t know the figures, but I have to let you know that I have bought a lot of books from this store in the past and I will most probably continue patron the store well into the future.


That left me some unanswered, important and relevant question:
“The web is a vast media of information, comprising largely of multimedia content. How on earth can an average blogger navigate around intellectual properties without infringing trademarks and copyrights?”

Even Google is facing this major lawsuits after several months since the acquisition of YouTube(TM) .

I feel that the Internet is the last known channel of freedom so people should be treated fairly when it comes to content sharing. Fair use of content should be freely distributed, as long as they are not used 100% copied for group/personal profit, or by causing financial losses to the affected group of people.

Leave me your thoughts (click the comment link) if this discussion relates with you as I love to constantly learn from the wisdom of others.


Live life abundantly and you will be discover how amazing your quality of life will be! 😉

Have a wonderful day ahead!

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About Insights, Inspirations, Tranquility, Peace and Harmony

Ng Wai Loong

Wai Loong is an electronics engineer by profession. He currently resides in Singapore, a thriving hub at the heart of South-East Asia. When he is not so stress out on the computers or laboratory, he enjoys value reading, jogging at his own pace and blogging in his spare time. Other times, he likes to catch up with some close friends over a cup of latte or teh tarik. As a gift from this friend, you are invited to interact freely with him on his personal blog.

PS: May the person reading this blog transforms his/her businesses, finances, relationships and life for ALL to WIN!