Good day everyone. Today's era allows us to download an ebook of some books easily using a search engine such as google.

I just need your help about the question: Is it okay to print an ebook downloaded online for reference purposes?

Thanks for your help.

  • 5
    If you are allowed to download the book, then you are also allowed to print it (as long as it is for personal use and you are not publishing it or anything). If you downloaded the ebook illegally, then printing it is just as illegal. So either way: I don't see why printing it should make any difference.
    – Dirk
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 11:43
  • Thanks @Bemte for your direct to the point answer. With that, I have another question: when can we say that an ebook was downloaded illegally? I know, that downloading the book via google is legal, Am I right?
    – Jr Antalan
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 11:45
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about academia.
    – Cape Code
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 12:08
  • A large amount of the content found on Google is pirated material produced without the copyright owners' consent; so, an ebook isn't necessarily legally acquired just because you found it via Google. If you do legally acquire an ebook, it often comes with a license or terms of service that specifies stuff like printing. Further legal factors, such as fair use or archiving laws, vary from place to place. Anyway, this seems like a question for SE.Law, not SE.Academics.
    – Nat
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 12:13
  • Ah, I see. It is clear to me now. Thanks @Nat
    – Jr Antalan
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


There are two cases here:

  1. You bought and downloaded the ebook legally. In this case it most likely came with a license, stating exactly what you are allowed to do with it. Most of the time you will be allowed to print it for personal use. However, there are also ebooks available by library services, which you only get for a certain amount of time (e.g. two weeks). In this case, printing it would be just as illegal as going into a library, getting a book, go to a copy shop, print the whole thing and then return it. In most cases, such library services will have a way to prevent or at least hinder printing, so if you need special software and some "hacks" you found online to print the book, you have to be careful.
  2. You downloaded the ebook for free. In this case the question at hand is not if you can print it or not, it is if the download was legal or not. There are books available online for free, but many of them are not legal. If in doubt, contact the original author. I would say that if you downloaded an ebook and then print it out, the printing itself doesn't make a potential illegal download any worse - unless of course you distribute the book - but I'm no expert for copyright, so I can't give a definitive answer on that.

I will furthermore not comment on "how bad" an illegal download of an ebook is, depending on who you ask it might differ from "who cares?" to "you are going to jail!".

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