Thank you, CeJay
. I can absolutely see where that phrasing would be perfect in front of a "Download" button. It serves as a little barrier, and the language says effectively, "By crossing this barrier, you take this responsibility..."
Having covered the software industry in my job, I've come across a treasure trove of EULAs with language that assumes the existence of a barrier where there isn't one. "By your having read this sentence, you acknowledge ZapphCo as the creator of everything about this software, and you forfeit the right to take legal action against ZapphCo..." etc. That's a thinner barrier than even a "Spoiler Alert."
Anyway, I'm thinking that on a PDF, there needs to be something (perhaps on the footer of every page) that says, "For free distribution only" but in a way that can't be legally implied to mean, "I give up any claims I have to copyright." Remember, even fan fiction that's about characters and situations that other people created and hold exclusive rights to, for purposes of commercial distribution, can be copyrighted so that their authors can claim ownership of their stories.
So I'm thinking something like this:
The story contained herein is copyright 2013 [author's name]. Story is based on characters copyright 2013 CBS Studios, and on "Star Trek," created by Gene Roddenberry...