France: All your books are belong to us
Pirate Party, Free Software bods, authors in IP land-grab fight
If the phrase "digital pirate" conjures up a lone socially challenged male with a large collection of Manga comics and Cory Doctorow ravings, think again. Some of the biggest "pirates" in the world are nation states.
Last week France passed a law that permits the state to seize authors' rights on out-of-print books published before 2001. Scribes have just six months to opt-out, or lose their moral rights and the ability to determine a price for their work.
It's essentially a Compulsory Purchase Order for intellectual property - the author's work is no longer their own. Ownership is instead transferred to a quango answering to the French Ministry of Culture, which is authorised to make it digitally available. Publishers are the big beneficiaries.
The law has united copyright groups with the free software movement and Pirate Party in opposition.
Since the law applies to British authors and illustrators who have been published in France, it's likely to draw fierce protest. Ironically France prides itself as the home of creators' rights - and pioneered moral rights - or droit d'auteur as they call them.
The land grab is so brazen that even the French Pirate Party has come out fighting against it.
"We are all united with the authors, artists and all those who are regularly ripped off by middlemen," he added.
The state, of course, is a middleman with unique characteristics: it can enforce its seizures of individual property with its monopoly on violence. Which makes it a uniquely powerful foe. And the French Free Software movement, recognising the freedoms of software libre depend on strong copyright, has called it "legalised piracy".
A law that provokes a blowback so strong it unites authors and the Pirate Party is very unusual indeed. Expect this to get even feistier. ®
Hasn't anyone told Sarkozy...
... that standing on e-books will not make him look taller.
Here we go again
As a published author, I have been fighting for the past many years against this and that company or organisation who think that they should have control and rights over my work (and indeed, own my work). If I were making shoes or cars, no one would think they could just help themselves to my product and that, indeed, it was a right ('cars want to be free'). Yet music and writing, because of their nature, are somehow different and up for grabs. They must have some value, or all these organisations and companies wouldn't be seeking to control them. I just wish i could capitalise on this value, but I am the last to see a penny.
So thanks, France...
France is just getting crazier and craizer.