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I am in Canada and wanted to get a bound copy of someone's doctoral thesis in Sweden. The thesis is fully available online in PDF form for free from the library/publisher, but since there is a copyright on it printing services won't print and bind it for me without proof of printing permissions. The library does not seem to offer a service and does not seem to understand what it is I want since they keep directing me to the online PDF, while the author doesn't seem to be responding (probably ended up in his junk mail).

Does anyone know how one would go about this?

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    What is it that a bound version would do that a PDF won't let you do? Also, is the PDF "secured" so you can't print it out on your own shiny laser printer? I would be surprised rather than annoyed if somebody wanted a hard copy of my thesis. It's boring even to me. – puppetsock Dec 16 '19 at 18:44
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    @puppetsockreinstateMonica This is actually a request from a 70-year coworker I work with. He wants a bound hardcopy to add it as a reference to his library and also prefers to study from them rather than a computer screen. I'm sure the author wouldn't mind helping out if I actually had a way to get ahold of him. I've just been firing request left and right over different sites but unless one of them is his actual e-mail or phone number I doubt he will ever see them. – DKNguyen Dec 16 '19 at 18:52
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    And your printer is out of paper? – puppetsock Dec 16 '19 at 18:54
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    Not ideal, but 3-hole punch it and put it in a properly sized binder. – mkennedy Dec 16 '19 at 19:31
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    As @mkennedy suggested, why not print it, punch holes in the paper, and put it in 2 or 3 notebook binders? That's what I've done with my dissertation, which is on a bookshelf in another room. In fact, I have photocopies of many thousands of pages of papers in similar topic-labeled notebook binders. Also, you could have it coil-bound at a printing store, something I've done with several of my longer personal manuscripts. – Dave L Renfro Dec 16 '19 at 19:39
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Print the paper yourself, three-hole-punch (or buy pre-punched paper), and use a three-ring binder. For 200 pages, it might be easier to do this at an office/print shop (search "print shop" or "printing" on Google Maps or something to find one near you). Sometimes these shops will do this sort of thing for you, and often they have self-service machines which can get you around wariness that employees may be trained in as far as printing work they are not confident they are allowed to print. As a comment mentioned, these shops can also sometimes do coil binding, which would hold together better on a shelf. Nicer binders would do okay on a shelf, though they would be best held page-side-down in a file drawer or horizontal rather than vertical.

It's not normal to bind someone else's work in a proper book, and theses are not typically printed as books for resale. Printing a PDF of a copyrighted work that you have digital access to for personal use is typically completely legal, and practically never going to be an issue even in some odd context where it isn't.


@cbeleitessupportsMonica also suggests a "springback binder" which I have never used personally but it looks like they might be ideal for this purpose.

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    The printing services are a real stickler (i.e. they don't know what they're doing so they don't do anything). They wouldn't even print a public domain book because it had a copyright stamp on it from 1908. – DKNguyen Dec 16 '19 at 20:07
  • @DKNguyen I'm suggesting a copy shop, not a book bindery. – Bryan Krause Dec 16 '19 at 20:09
  • I am talking about a copy shop. Staples. – DKNguyen Dec 16 '19 at 20:10
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    @DKNguyen Have you tried walking in with a stack of paper already printed and ask if they can punch it for you? or try another shop? or buy pre-punched paper? It's pretty different printing a thesis which has likely been bound only for personal use versus a book that's sold in circulation. – Bryan Krause Dec 16 '19 at 20:13
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    Over here (Germany) springback binders are fequently used for theses. There are also products that don't need a machine to open the spring. Also, I'd ask departments around: in many places where I've been someone (secretary) somewhere had a plastic binder or a thermo binder. – cbeleites supports Monica Dec 16 '19 at 21:07
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Talk to your university’s legal department, and ask them what to do.

Most universities will have legal teams, and in many cases, those legal teams will have quite a bit of experience with IP law. Talking to them about actions you could take seems like a good idea; it’s very possible that a good solution for your problem might be as simple as your university’s legal team drafting a letter to their university’s legal team asking for written permission to print a copy of the thesis paper for non commercial use.

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    This sounds like way more work than necessary to get a single copy of a thesis into a format that is readable to someone averse to reading on screens. – Bryan Krause Dec 16 '19 at 23:41
  • @BrianKrause Probably still less work than printing it out and manually punching holes in 200 pages yourself. – nick012000 Dec 17 '19 at 0:33
  • @BrianKrause: less work than printing it out and manually punching holes in 200 pages --- nick012000, I'm not sure I follow. Printing may take a few minutes, but you do something else after you click "print", and even with my hole puncher (does only 20-30 pages at a time), I could get this taken care of in less than 2 minutes, and this is at home. For most every department I've taught at, the process would be to send it to the printer, go to the department workroom to pick up the output, and spend less than a minute punching holes in it using the better hole puncher in the workroom. – Dave L Renfro Dec 17 '19 at 13:24
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    @DaveLRenfro round here, just print it on the photocopier (MFD ) and it will punch the holes for you – Chris H Dec 17 '19 at 16:05
  • @DaveLRenfro If he’s going to Staples to get it done, he probably doesn’t have a fancy hole puncher available that can do a lot of pages at once. – nick012000 Dec 17 '19 at 21:22

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